The Art of Poker Tells: How to Spot the Signs

Learning to identify your opponents’ tells and being able to hide your own is crucial in poker.

When it comes to card games, poker is one of the most entertaining out there, and poker gaming itself has acquired lots of players. The skill and strategy needed to play a solid game of poker make it challenging, and the money you can win when you master the game makes it highly appealing. You don’t always have to play for money, of course, and poker has become a popular game at parties and social events. 

Of course, one of the challenges when playing poker is that of hiding your excitement or disappointment at a particular hand or how the game is going. Knowing how to do this is a crucial skill. Below is a look at how to spot some of the poker tells, the advantages of spotting them and how to hide your own poker tells.

What are poker tells?

Poker tells, to put it simply, are verbal or physical actions that give away how strong your hand is. It’s important, however, to be able to understand the fundamentals of the game and develop a solid strategy, rather than rely on reading the tells of players. It’s better to understand tells as an additional skill that can influence decision making at the table.

Learning poker tells and being able to spot them will give you more confidence at the table and help you to improve your game. Along with being able to hide tells,spotting them is one of the skills that sets experienced poker players apart from beginner ones and can help them gain an advantage. It’s important to realize that some players will fake tells to trick you into thinking certain things about their hand. For instance, they might act dramatic to create the illusion they have a weak hand when really they have a strong one.

Here are some common tells you may encounter at the poker table:

Defensive moments

The weaker a player’s hand is, the greater the probability they’ll make some move to stop you from betting. A subtle hand movement towards their chips as you’re about to bet, as if they’re about to call immediately, is one indication that they probably don’t have a fantastic hand. 

Pauses or hesitation before betting

If a player has a strong hand, they’re more likely to pause, whereas if they have a weak hand, they’re more likely to bet immediately. They want to seem confident, and they don’t want anyone to study their actions for any longer than necessary. Be aware that players who have strong hands might also use this tactic because it suits them to convey uncertainty.

Quick calls

This is one of the most useful tells. Quick calls suggest a weak or medium-strength hand. This is because a quick call means the player has ruled out a raise. Players who have strong hands want to maximize the value of the hand, so they’re unlikely to call immediately. 


If a player displays goading behavior, the chances are they have a strong hand. The direction of the goad doesn’t matter, but the player is trying to get you to do something. Beware of statements like “I know you’re going to fold” or “I dare you to call” from bettors. They’re likely to be relaxed bettors who have a strong hand.

Hiding poker tells

Fortunately, you can help to tip poker games in your favor by learning how to hide your own tells (not that this will always be possible). Maybe your mouth curls momentarily when a play goes against you. Maybe it’s hard not to swallow when performing a bluff. Unfortunately, all you can do is hope that the other players don’t notice. Here are a few tips on hiding tells:

Show consistent personality throughout the game.

Staying consistent with your personality during the game is important. Some players go still when they get a good hand. If you go still on every hand, however, no one can gain any information about how your hand might be, whether it’s a strong one or a weak one. 

Analyze your game.

Analyze your play constantly, whether you win or lose the hands. Are you placing bets so low that other players become suspicious? Are other players calling you every time you have a weak hand? What did you do differently when you won, and can you incorporate it into your game more? Are people folding constantly when you have major hands?

Learning to identify your opponents’ tells and being able to hide your own is crucial in poker. It can help you make decisions about how to play and prevent other people from guessing the strength of your hand. Get familiar with the different tells in poker so you can play more confidently at the table.