TALKING YOU OUT OF CALLING

Sometimes a player will try to talk you out of calling when he has run out of other options.

This behavior occurs when a bluffer sees you getting ready to put chips into the pot and is sure he is doomed. He will then say something, anything, to try to get you to not make the call. It could be something like, “You sure you want to call that?”, or “Man, just fold. I’m telling you I got this.” This tell is especially significant when the opponent is usually quiet and his statement stands out as being out-of-the-ordinary.

This tell is just a verbal equivalent of the last tell I talked about, where a weak player attempts to dissuade you from calling by threatening to turn his hand over. You really can’t blame your opponent for trying to change your mind when he believes he’s out of options. This tell is pretty obvious when it occurs, but it’s of limited use because it usually only happens when you’re already in the act of putting your chips in the pot.

GRABBING CHIPS DEFENSIVELY

A player acting as if he’s ready to call a raise by defensively holding chips is probably weak.

This is the same tell described in the waiting-for-action section except that it takes place after someone has bet. I recommend going back and reading that chapter for more information.

Basically, the gist of the tell is that the player bets and then grabs chips threateningly, maybe holding them outstretched or maybe just clenching them, indicating that he is willing to engage in more betting. A player will do this when they are betting either a vulnerable hand or a bluff. Someone exhibiting this tell is hardly ever going to have a strong hand.

The post-bet version of this tell is much more rare than the waiting-for-action version.

GETTING FIDGETY

Some rare players will tend to get more animated when they are bluffing.

There are some players who get more fidgety and weirdly energetic when they bluff. They’re not common, but they’re out there. It pays to know that they exist so you can recognize this pattern if you spot it.

The thought process of these players probably goes something like, “Everyone knows that being still means you’re bluffing. I’ve got to do something to look relaxed.”

So they’ll start moving their hands or their face, or looking around, doing whatever they can do to appear physically relaxed. I’ve seen a couple players exhibit this tell so extremely they look like they have Tourette’s. They’ll be full of nervous energy after they’ve put out a bluff, but more silent and still after they’ve value bet.

I have an unresearched theory that you’re more likely to see this tell from very tight, ABC-strategy players. These are players who might be fairly experienced and know what the standard bluffing tells are, so they’re trying not to look like that. But they don’t bluff often enough to feel comfortable doing it, so they end up overdoing it and moving around too much.

HANDS NEAR MOUTH

A player who puts his hands near his mouth could be bluffing, but could just as easily be concealing a big hand.

Mike Caro talked about this tell. He said he’d found this tell had a greater correlation to bluffing than to value bets. His classification is the only reason I’m putting it in the weak category, because I think I see it displayed about equally between bluffs and big hands. I think the behavior is generally associated with lying, but in the context of poker, lying could just as easily mean someone’s trying to conceal the strength of a big hand as it could mean they’re bluffing you. Also, most people are aware that this posture has an association with weakness and discomfort, so people trying to feign weakness are capable of doing it.

I think this tell does have power once you have correlated it for a specific opponent and figured out what that player’s personal tendencies are. I’ve just seen too many players do it when they’re holding a strong hand for me to assign it any kind of general meaning. You just need to watch for this tell and correlate it, which is what you have to do with all tells.

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