The Online Tells That Are Most Telling

Written by Jennifear and Posted by Henry Jacobson, Bear Hug Poker

Jennifear was my poker coach from April, 2008 until Black Friday, April 15, 2011. I remember driving to the Bellagio from my home in Henderson, Nevada on the night of April 15, 2011, and thinking, “what the fuck am I going to do now”. Jennifear became an instant casualty of Black Friday. She was a 4’8”, 26 year-old female with a severe hearing disability. I never heard her voice or saw her face and believe me I tried. She handled all of her communication through email and instant messaging. She did a lot of writing for various poker outlets including Pocket 5’s, Card Player Magazine, Poker News, 2+2 and many others. She was whip smart and made a nice living beating the games online when they were legal in the United States. Together with her coaching business, she had it made and was in demand. When you have a chance, check out her MTT and SNG graphs on Stars or FTP under the screen name PunkinBear. She was a monster and she taught me how to play poker. Even though Jennifear became a casualty of Black Friday, I know she hasn’t given up on the dream of legalized, real money games, being spread again online in the United States. Jennifear was my mentor and to this day, even though I never heard her speak a word or saw her face, her voice is always in my head. I grew incredibly close to Jennifear because she was so generous to me with her time and her desire to see me make it as a professional player. She was always there to answer an email or go over a hand or a whole week’s worth of hands. I miss her more than I can say.
Jennifear was an amazingly observant and perceptive human being. I believed that because she had a hearing disability, her other senses of observation were sharply elevated. That is why I like the article I am going to share with you so much. This is Jennifear talking about the abundance of online tells that exist if we just pay attention and observe. 

The Online Tells That Are Most Telling by Jennifear   

The perception of online poker is that it is a game of mathematics, and that people skills are not involved. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Next time you are in your favorite live place to play you won’t find any of these things. The people aspect of the game is more apparent online with every feature added to our online cardrooms, and furthermore, unlike live play, where the players take great pains to disguise their actions and try to act the same every time, online these players often let their guard down, figuring that this “people aspect” has been eliminated from the game. If you are attentive, you can crush these folks, and I’m here to tell you how!

Betting speed tells:

– The Instant Call After a Bet
Your opponent is trying to convey strength by calling quickly, but in reality, likely does not have the goods….yet. Your opponent is more than likely on a draw, and beware of any turn card that might complete his hand.
– The Instant Raise After a Bet
Your opponent has the goods this time and was looking to raise no matter what you did. If you have queens preflop in position after a raise and a reraise that fit this category, strongly consider laying them down.
– The Quick River or Turn Bet
Your opponent hasn’t given much thought to whether he wants to bet his hand, because he is strong and does want to bet. Most bluffs or plays take at least a half-second to develop in the brain, and if this time isn’t being used, it’s likely a good hand.
– Pre-action Check/Fold Button
Your lazy opponent who uses this is almost certainly weak. You will see him instantly check, and you’d better believe that you can bet the next street.
– Pause, then Bet
By pausing, your opponent is subconsciously trying to get you to believe that he is just thinking about betting before deciding to make a borderline bet. Don’t be fooled, he has the goods.
– Pause, then Check
By pausing, your opponent is subconsciously trying to get you to believe that he is just thinking about betting before deciding to make a borderline check. He is trying to scare you into checking behind. Don’t be fooled, bet right now!
– The Quick Check
An instantaneous check also indicates weakness, but if followed by a raise, it’s deception. Bet at will, but be prepared to fold to a check-raise.

Table Chat Tells:

– “I’m Allin, It’s Bedtime!”
He has the goods. Call with the strongest hands only.
– “Let’s Party!!!” (allin first hand of MTT or SNG)
He has the goods. Fold anything less than KK.
– “Next Time You Raise My Blind, You Are Allin!” or “Just Wait Until I Have a Hand, Sucker!”
He doesn’t know how to combat your aggressive style, so rather than fighting you on the table, he is trying to scare you into changing the way you do business. Continue putting the heat on this guy until he proves he can play back.
– Idle chatter by the person in the Big Blind
This guy has nothing, as someone with a real hand will prepare themselves for their action, watching intently. Raise this blind at will with anything.
– Chatterbox Who gets quiet….all of a sudden
This guy may very well have the goods, use some of your time bank to see if he resumes chatting, and if not, proceed with caution.
– “You Guys Are a Bunch of Donkeyfish! I Haven’t Won a Race All Day!!!”
He may as well wear a sign that says “I AM ON TILT!”
– “How Can You Play That Crap!”
This player plays the “right way”.. and in his mind, the right way is weak-tight.
– A player who comments on a hand he wasn’t involved in
…is paying attention to the game when he’s not in a hand. Same player who gives his opinion is the old “professor” type. Chat this guy up, and tell him how super-awesome he is at poker and ask him if you did the right thing on several plays. He will proceed to drop his entire strategy in your lap.
– “Call me You Chicken!” or “It’s Time For You to Fold!”
If an opponent is trying to influence your decision in the chatbox, whether he is trying to get you to call, raise or fold, he likely has the goods. A bluffer will not say anything in the chatbox for fear of giving someone a clue, and although you can’t see it, a bluffer is silent behind the computer screen, frozen solid, and won’t answer his wife’s question until the hand is over, or breathe for that matter. He certainly isn’t typing.

Cash Game Tells:

– Failure to Wait For the Big Blind
Your opponent is careless enough that he doesn’t realize the value of half of a big bet. He is impatient. Stick around and take his cash.
– Failure to Auto-Post in a Game With Antes
Your opponent is likely new to this specific game or just wants to play one or two hands. Most likely a fish.
– Buying In With a Weird Amount Like $40.98
It’s probably his entire bankroll. He is playing over his head. Fish.

Name/Avatar Tells:

– Child as an Avatar
It’s probably really your opponent’s child, and you can deduce his age within a few years by the age of the child.
– 420 Inside Name
Your opponent smokes pot and is proud of it.
– Avatar of a Lesser Known Poker Pro
Your opponent follows the game and probably has more than a clue.
– Avatar of a Grizzly Bear, Shark, Fisherman, or Mean Dog
Your opponent sees himself as a predator.
– Avatar of Opponent Wearing Sunglasses or Staring You Down
Your opponent is paying attention to his reputation and will avoid looking stupid. He thinks he is good.
– Birthyear in Name
Chances are that Johnny1975 was born in 1975. Older players are generally tighter, less aggressive, and less prone to overvaluing a hand. Younger players are often playing by the seat of their pants.
– Recent Year in Name
Chances are Johnny04 created his account in 2004, and he has some experience.
– Name in All Capital Letters
Chances are that your opponent, YOUAREDINNER, is aggressive.
– Picture of Girlfriend
Your opponent is likely about the age of the girlfriend.
– A Trick in a Name
“Time 11 Secs,” “Seat Empty,” or “Screen Name” are most likely tricky players at heart.
– Rude Name
Most likely, IOwnYourA$$ is a young, immature player, without any true skills.

Weird Bet Amounts:
– Bets 999.

Your opponent is trying to make his bet “look” big, because the stack will look large. Don’t be fooled. He doesn’t have much. Someone with AA preflop, or the nuts, will try to not look deceptive in any way.

I hope this gives you all insight into the heads of your opponents. Remember that the ability to fake tells is out there as well, and many of these tells aren’t 100% reliable. People with poor connections and multi-tablers may give off a false alarm. Be sure to not give off these tells, and have a screen name and an avatar that tells people nothing about your true self and isn’t likely to irritate others.
Be observant, and you can pick up a whole heck of a lot!
Hope this helps!