Common Poker Tells To Look For at the 2021 WSOP
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The 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) commences on September 30, which marks the return of the world's longest-running live poker festival. Thousands of poker players from around the world will descend on Las Vegas, sharing a common goal: to win a coveted WSOP bracelet.
Those bracelet hopefuls will do everything in their power and within the rules of the game to get their hands on poker's most sought-after piece of poker jewelry. Picking up on their opponents' poker tells is one way of increasing their chances of WSOP glory.
Poker is a game played with incomplete information; that is, we only ever find out our opponents' holdings if the hand gets to showdown or our opponent decided to reveal their hole cards. As poker players, we base our decision-making on several factors, including bet sizes, our opponents' playing styles, stack sizes, and everyone's position at the table. The more advanced live poker players use tells as an additional source of information, but what is a poker tell?
Poker tells refer to physical or verbal actions that players make at the table, which often give away crucial information about their hands. Most physical tells are involuntary, and players are not aware they are making them; wilier opponents give off fake tells as a way of creating the outcome they want; more on that later.
Look Into The Eyes
Some say that people's eyes are a gateway into the soul. That is a little deep, but watching players' eyes when playing poker is definitely something you should incorporate into your game. The eyes give away much information; it is no coincidence that many poker players wear sunglasses when playing poker!
Players who look you directly in the eyes tend to have a strong hand. Them looking squarely into your hand conveys strength because they are confident in their hand. Conversely, those who are weak or even bluffing often struggle to maintain eye contact. This is because they are less comfortable in the current situations and are essentially lying to you. How often have you not told the truth and struggled to maintain eye contact? There you go.
Watch Your Opponent's Hands
A player's hands and how they handle their chips can be a strong tell of how strong or weak their holding is. Watching an opponent handle their chips and cards sometimes reveals hands that are trembling. This tends to happen with the more inexperienced players than seasoned pros.
It is almost impossible to fake trembling hands convincingly, so it is a rather reliable poker tell. Shaking hands is a sign of nervousness in most people but can also show strength in the right circumstances. When deep into a large pot, someone with trembling hands is often holding an extremely strong hand. They are so excited about winning many chips that their hands shake due to the shot of adrenaline their body just gave them.
Furthermore, watch for when and how a player grabs their chips. Those players with stronger hands tend to reach and grab for their chips before the action reaches them. They simply cannot wait to commit more chips into the pot because of their strong holding. The opposite runs true, in that players with weaker holdings leave their stacks untouched.
Card protectors are common at the WSOP, so watch how your opponents use theirs. For example, they may immediately place their card protector on their hole cards after peaking at those cards or neglect to do so—the former hints at a playable hand, the latter not so much.
Timing Tells Can Be Reliable Too
How long a player takes to act is one of the most common poker tells you will experience at the WSOP. Seasoned players try to take the same amount of time to act regardless of checking, calling, or raising; you should do the same because your quickness, or lack of it, gives away a ton of information.
Taking longer than usual to check usually means the player had an actual decision to make between checking or betting. This is an indication that they have some sort of playable hand. Typically, this is a drawing hand that they are contemplating semi-bluffing with or a medium-strength hand, such as an underpair or middle pair.
A quick check indicates a weak hand because they did not require much thinking time to conclude they were not putting more chips in the pot. Thinking players may check super-quick to lure you into a false sense of security before check-raising when you inevitably take the bait.
Anyone who calls a bet quickly usually has some sort of worthwhile hand, but not one they are too happy with. These tend to be mid-strength hands or drawing hands where they want to see the next street or get to showdown without bloating the pot.
When it comes to betting, someone beating you into the pot with a quick bet is often has a weaker hand. Their fast actions are designed to intimidate you and encourage you to fold. However, be wary of anyone taking their time before betting or raising because this can be a sign of significant strength. They are pondering the exact amount to bet to extract the most value from their hand.
You need to be an observant person to pick up on poker tells. Furthermore, you need to use poker tells as part of your information gathering and not as the only component of it. Pay particular attention to the hands your opponents show down after acting a certain way. What did they do before and during a hand where they showed a strong holding. What about when they were caught bluffing? Build a mental database into your opponents' tendencies.
Also, be aware some players are incredibly clever and will act weak when strong and vice-versa.
Finally, do not only observe these tells in your opponents but be aware you may be giving off similar tells. Keep your actions uniform regardless of what you plan to do in the hand, and prevent opponents from picking up information about you and your holdings.
Continue your poker tells education with the selection of excellent strategy articles in the list below.