Spotting and correctly interpreting poker tells at the tables is more of an art than an exact science, and it’s a skill that most poker players acquire only after years of live play. However, thanks to people like Mike Caro and Joe Navarro, this crucial ability can be yours in a relatively short amount of time.
Mike Caro’s Top 10 Poker Tells & Entire Video Series
Start with the video playlist above. It’s a bit ’70s but a great overview of many of the key tells you’ll definitely see at the live casinos from novice and even advanced players! Click the icon box at the top left of the video screen above, and you can click through to the other tutorials on poker tells and reads in this very comprehensive video series, which in addition to Texas Hold ’em, also covers tells pertaining to 7-Card Stud, 5-Card Poker and Omaha.
Expert poker players use their knowledge of tells in combination with general player profiling, bet types and bet sizes, betting frequencies as a function of position and estimated/adjusted ranges in order to deduce their opponents’ actual holding or a set of most-probable holdings. With extensive practice and a lot of live-playing experience, you might amaze yourself at how exactly you will be able to determine your opponents’ hands. Once you have a general idea of their holdings, be sure to chat with them and use other “poker interrogation” techniques to see if they’ll provide you with a confirmation of your read.
If you’re mathematically inclined and/or use online poker-tracking software such as Holdem Manager (our personal favorite program for Texas Hold ’em), be sure to check out the printable overview (click the button above) of the most-important stats that correspond to the different player types both preflop and postflop.
Serious live poker players should definitely also purchase Mike Caro’s book, Caro’s Book of Poker Tells as well as Joe Navarro’s, 200 Poker Tells. These are must reads for everyone looking to markedly improve his or her game in the shortest amount of time. Many of the articles at Caro’s website are also very useful (and free): Mike Caro’s Tells and Poker Psychology Articles. Enjoy!
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Scroll down to watch additional FREE videos on how to become an expert in the subtle art of poker tells and properly perceiving and interpreting your opponents’ mannerisms and/or lack thereof, both on and off the felt!
Joe Navarro’s Poker Tells Courses
Just go wild searching for anything and everything you can find from this guy on YouTube. Here are just a few (and probably more than enough to be way ahead of all of your competition in almost all live games when combined with Mike Caro’s videos) to get you started.
Art of Influence
Facial Poker Tells
Poker Secrets 1
Protecting Against Exhibiting Tells
Daniel Negreanu on Reading Opponents
Arguably one of the best players at “reading” opponents is Daniel Negreanu. The following clip is good general advice pertaining to reads from Daniel himself. Please take his last comment to heart about being able to fold based on reads that indicate you’re beat. If you “know they’ve got it,” only call if the pot-odds you’re getting justify making a crying call based on the probability that you’re call is a positive expected-value move in the long run (i.e. based on knowledge of your opponent’s bluff frequencies on the river and how often you have to catch him to break even in the long run, calling as a long-term deterrent to future bluffs when you do have show-down value, etc.).
In the following video, I really like Doyle Brunson’s comment after he bets just under pot size on the flop and Daniel calls after having correctly put Doyle on a set. Note: If you truly believe you’re facing a better hand, get out as soon as you can without the proper odds or (especially when super deep stacked) the implied odds to play on; the flop in Texas Hold ’em is a good place to fold and save a lot of money if you don’t plan on taking your top pair or overpair to the river. Always remember the adage, “a chip saved is a chip earned.”
The hand above is a good example of advanced deep-stack play at a table that is relatively loose pre-flop: Daniel’s open-limp with a suited Ace (can win huge pots and isn’t fatal if you’re able to fold after having paired your ace), Doyle’s over-limp with 33 (“set-mining”), Barry Greenstein’s over-limp with T7o (extreme speculation), Sammy Farha’s isolation raise with a suited T9 (expanding his raising range with a hand that can win big pots and generally only loses in small ones), and finally Daniel’s “flush-mining” cold-call and Doyle’s over-cold-call for set value. Daniel check/calls Doyle’s flop bet and check/folds to his turn “over-bet” to protect against the flush and other (less likely) straight draws, and potentially also for value if he thinks Daniel could call with top pair, two pair or a strong draw. [Brief side-note here: do not falsely interpret this type of preflop play and the out-of-position flop check/call as optimal for a normal small to middle stakes game with effective stack sizes of around 100 big blinds or fewer.]
Stan B. Walter “The Lie Guy”
Although the videos published by “the lie guy” come from the perspective of criminal interrogation, the information he shares is very impressive and definitely useful for your “reading skills” … both at the tables and in daily life. His debunking of “interpreting eye movement” as a proper means to determine whether the person is lying or telling the truth is also very useful in shedding light on a lot of commonly held misconceptions on this topic.
Identifying if People Are Being Truthful or Deceptive
Eye Contact and Lying: Facts & Fiction
Eye Movement and Lying: The Myth
If you would like to view other videos we’ve compiled on this and numerous other advanced poker-strategy topics, visit our YouTube channel today.