Some players will tend to immediately glance away from cards that have helped them.

When new cards come that help their hand, some opponents react with an immediate involuntary movement of their eyes away from those cards.

Ever see the movie Blood Diamond? There’s a scene where the African guy who’s been forced to mine diamonds suddenly spots a huge diamond in the river, right there at his feet. He knows that everyone around him would want to have that diamond, and he wants to get it for himself. What would be your first instinct in a situation like that if you were him? Your first instinct is to look away from the diamond in the hopes that nobody’s attention is drawn to where you’re looking. It’s a natural instinct to hide your interest when your interest will make your enemies interested. So it’s understandable that players instinctually try to conceal that they have gotten help from the board.

Board cards

Some players will immediately look away from a good board, but then make an effort to look back at it. Sometimes you will notice that these players have a kind of distant, unfocused expression when they look at the board, kind of like they were looking past it. This is because they are only pretending to look at the flop, while their actual attention is elsewhere, possibly on you or another opponent, hoping you’ll bet.

Hole cards

As mentioned in a previous chapter, the same tell can be true for hole cards. Sometimes, bad players will put their hole cards down very quickly (as in a fraction of a second) when they see a strong hand. This tell is true generally for very weak players. Even when present it can be quite subtle, and might only be the difference of a few fractions of a second. (Conversely, players who stare at their cards for a second or two are likely to be weak, and that is a far more powerful indicator than this tell is. See ‘Staring at weak hole cards’ for more information.)


Players will often show their honest intention to bet or raise pre-flop and in multi-way pots.

Just like some players give away their honest intention to fold, some players give away their intention to bet or raise. When the action is multi-way, especially pre-flop, and when the pot is small, mediocre players are not as careful about concealing their intention to bet or raise, because there is not much direct benefit to hiding that information.

You can usually spot this tell by pausing a second or so before acting and watching the player or players immediately behind you. If you see someone stacking up their chips in a subtle way, and you have already correlated this player’s behavior in such a situation to mean he is readying a bet, you can take that into account.

It’s important to keep in mind that this tell is more likely to be displayed in multi-way pots. With heads-up or even three-way pots, players will be less likely to reveal this information, because players typically give away less information in short-handed situations. In heads-up or three-way pots, if you see someone grabbing their chips out of turn, it is more likely they are grabbing chips defensively, and giving away their weakness (see ‘Grabbing chips defensively’ for more information). The more multi-way the pot is (especially pre-flop, because that is the most multi-way street), the more likely it is that a player is giving away his true intentions to participate in the pot. There will usually be a difference of subtlety between the two types of actions; the defensive chip- grabbing will be more ostentatious, whereas the pre-loading of a bet will be more subtle and less obvious.

I don’t think many people truly take advantage of this information. By taking a couple extra seconds, and by paying full attention to situations when the players around you are giving away their intention to play, you can gain valuable information.


A player who is feeling uncomfortable will not usually smile genuinely.

If you’re in a significant pot, and a player isn’t afraid of your bet, he will be more likely to exhibit a real smile. Go to ‘Fake smiles’ for more about differentiating between real and fake smiles.

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