Live tells

The differences between online and live poker have been discussed at length especially over the past three or four years...

Posted Apr 14, 2013


Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

The differences between online and live poker have been discussed at length especially over the past three or four years after Black Friday. In general, online games are tougher, more aggressive, and contain more fundamentally sound players. There are some people that can win live that would never be able to turn a profit online. These are so called live "live pros". How do they do it? They pay attention to small intangibles like observing how their opponents act and what they give away in certain situations.

Live tells, of course, are the signals that people give off when they are playing a hand. It can be trembling fingers or the way someone's eyes dart around when they look at their cards. I think that a lot of younger players dismiss these signals and pay more attention to betting patterns. Although these mathematical cues are very important if you can notice both you can add a ton to your live game.

One of the most obviously tells that you can pick up on if you are a newbie to physical reading is the way someone holds and looks at their cards preflop. A lot of nitty players make it really obvious when they are going to fold and especially if they are to your left effectively make your position one closer to the button. So,
if you notice this you can open a wider range. David Chan, an accomplished Los Angeles "live pro", also mentioned while on my podcast, Seat Open Poker, that you can tell when a guy is going for a limp reraise when he goes to grab multiple chips from early position then only grabs one and casually limps. 

David is also a habitual three bettor in live games and, unlike other aggressive math based players, leans on his ability to read his opponents when determining to 3 bet bluff. If you pay attention you will start to detect patterns not just with the preflop sizing amounts but the way someone physically enters the pot. If you get really good at this skill you can see how much extra money you can pick through squeezing when you detect that others are weak.

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