ANNOUNCING A BET

The way a player announces his bet or raise may be correlated to his hand strength.

There are many ways to announce a bet or a raise. In most situations you can just stick the money in the pot and it will be obvious what you’re doing. In no-limit and pot-limit games, sometimes you need to announce the amount of your bet or raise to make things clear.

Some people, however, will announce “bet” or “raise” or “call”, or will announce the amount of their bet, even when it’s not necessary. In my experience, most people who announce their specific action in situations where it’s not necessary to do so are more likely to have strong hands. In other words, a player who puts in enough chips so that his action would obviously be a raise, but who says “raise” anyway; his hand is more likely to be strong than weak.

This can basically be considered a subset of the idea that players with vulnerable hands will be less vocal in general. Players who go out of their way to announce a raise or bet are just generally going to be more confident and less afraid of giving away information, and this is more likely to indicate someone with a decent hand.

Tones of voice

Some players, when holding a strong hand, will tend to announce their actions in sad tones of voice. This adheres to the general rule of “weak means strong”, although only the weakest players will display this in an obvious way.

It’s pretty common for mediocre players with good hands to announce their bets with a questioning vocal pattern – giving an upward inflection at the end of the amount, like, “Three hundred?” A questioning tone of voice implies uncertainty, which implies weakness: hence their instinctual use of this tone when they’re actually strong. (I will occasionally use a questioning inflection when I bluff, because this tell is well-known to many players.)

Poker Clack

In Mike Caro’s book, he describes a sound he calls poker clack. It’s the clacking, ‘tsk tsk’ sound you make by creating a vacuum behind your tongue and then moving your tongue quickly forward from the roof of your mouth. It’s the sound someone might make when commiserating with someone about a misfortune; it basically has the implied meaning of, “That’s too bad.”

Mike Caro describes this tell as pretty much universally meaning strength. In my experience, he is correct. I don’t hear it very often, just occasionally from extremely weak players. But once in a blue moon I will hear it in a higher-stakes game and it has never let me down.

MAKING SPEECHES

A player who talks before or during a bet is more likely to hold a strong hand.

As a general rule, someone who is willing to talk is more relaxed than someone who stays quiet. If you’re up against a usually quiet opponent who starts to explain why he’s making a bet as he pushes his chips in, that should set off some warning bells, no matter what the content of his speech seems to be.

Go to the Post-bet chapter ‘Talking’ for more about talking as an indication of a strong hand. Go to General Verbal Tells for more about analyzing statements.

SHRUGGING AND UNCERTAINTY

Players who shrug while betting are often holding strong hands.

You will often see inexperienced players shrug when they put chips into the pot, almost as if to say, “Well, I guess I’ll bet, but I’m not too sure about it.” They’ll almost always have very strong hands.

This tell is well-known and most regular players are aware of it. Therefore, you won’t be seeing it when you’re playing with even slightly experienced players.

You might sometimes see shrug-like gestures, like when a player throws his chips in with his hand in a slightly palm-up gesture. When an average player displays any gesture that implies indecision or uncertainty, it will typically mean strength.

LOOKING AT THE DEALER

Players with strong hands will sometimes look directly at the dealer when betting.

You’ll often see a player who looks directly at the dealer when betting. Sometimes the player will announce the amount of his bet or raise directly to the dealer, clearly enunciating the action.

I don’t fully understand this one. I’ve just witnessed it a lot. I think in some cases the player just wants to make sure the dealer gets the action correct, because he might be afraid of having his intentions not made clear. Another theory is that the player, by talking directly to the dealer, is unconsciously announcing how serious he is with his bet.

Staring at the dealer while betting can look a little strange, and this is another reason why it’s usually a sign of strength; as you know, players with weak hands don’t like to do weird things that could attract attention.


The woman on the left is looking directly at the dealer as she puts out her bet. This is generally a sign of a strong hand.

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