Many players study physical poker tells and don’t get me wrong because they do mean something. I am never going to stand here and tell you that physical tells don’t matter because they do. Some physical tells are so obvious that your opponent has virtually told you their composition or hand strength before they even do it.
Let us say that you are on the button with the Jc-8c and you want to raise a limper to 4bb but you see an opponent that is inexperienced to your left pick up 10USD to raise before it is their turn to act. Now you know that a player that has position on you has a hand that is worthy of a raise.
How Does Your Hand Fare
This puts a whole different perspective on your hand of J-8s. Now you know that you won’t have position in the hand and are likely facing a raise if you limp and a 3/bet if you raise or at least a caller in position. However this doesn’t alter the fact that the best way to find tells is through betting patterns and not physical tells.
This is because physical tells usually need numerous examples to show themselves as well as certain key situations. Let me explain….let us say for example that your opponent is fearful of being outdrawn in a big pot. Firstly to see this tell your opponent needs to be playing a big pot.
Secondly they also need to be playing a pot that they perceive to be big. Thirdly your opponent may not have this tell in smaller pots. However bet sizing often reveals the weak hand far sooner and in some cases immediately. For example in a USD50 pot a player may bluff for USD15 but not exhibit any physical tell because its’ only fifteen bucks.
What is The Tell
However the USD15 bet is the tell because the fear is present that this player doesn’t like the consequences of being called or raised and is therefore limiting their losses in such a situation. So an astute player can and should widen their calling range here and also their bluffing range as well.
In many situations a player can bluff raise the river with absolute zero equity if called simply because it is fairly certain that their opponent is bluffing. As long as the bet sizing is fine then the play shows a profit.