I’ve seen a few posts about the differences of online poker and live poker and I was amused to see a lot of the posters say that it is much harder to read people in online poker, and that is the key difference. Well, in short, they’re completely wrong. If anything online poker strips poker bare and allows for cleaner reads. You don’t have to worry about talking, voice inflection, pulse, all that nonsense that movies love to elaborate on. Where do all the pros get there tells from?
That’s right, it has nothing to do with the person’s stance, posture, voice, whatever. I’m not saying that these can’t be some help, but what it comes down to usually is the main questions: Why did he bet that / Why would I bet that? With those questions in mind you can get into your opponents mind and try to determine the hand they’re holding.
This is why it should be so easy to fold to a check raise on the turn; they must have slowplayed a big hand on the flop. It is also the reason that a bluff using the very same move is very useful. They can’t see your face and how nervous you are, but they do see that you just check raised on the turn after a blank fell…
The most common thing I see in tournaments is the continuation bet. When a player raises preflop they are more than likely going to bet on the flop, and they should. If their opponent missed the flop it will be very hard for them to call.
However, if I do catch a piece, say middle pair, on a flop of 8 7 4 (you hold 97 we’ll say) and they bet, it isn’t a hard bet to call, especially if you know they like to continuation bet. Although they say that the real decision making is on the flop, a large part comes on the turn as well. One of the most common tells a player can do is to incrementaly increase their bets on every street. Let’s imagine you called a raise from the big blind with 97 after the small blind doubled the big blind.
After the flop (let’s say the pot was $200 after the preflop betting), your opponent bets out 150. You call, and on the turn (pot $450) he bets out $350. You call again, and on the river he bets $800. What does this betting tell you? He does not want to get called. Every bet he’s made has been bigger and bigger, trying to get you to leave him alone. Of course don’t come running to me about how I cost you a tournament when you did this and he ended up having aces. It’s a fairly rookie tell, so don’t expect experienced players to make this mistake.
One more I love to late in tournaments is the big blind’s all in when several players have limped. This is a good play on most cases for the big blind. With 6 limpers the big blind can push with most anything and as long as no one has a big hand he can pick up the decent sized pot preflop.
Though people are willing to pay the big blind to see a hand they aren’t willing to call an all in with their mediocre hands. However if the big blind is a semi-decent player and you think they might be making a move here I might call with a hand like KQ or A9 and take a shot. The average hand that the big blind moves with here is usually KJ, A6, Q10 and hands like that.
Betting patterns are even more ovbious in limit ring games, specifically in multi-way pots where you can watch how an opponent bets with two or more opponents against him. In the lower limit games it is a bet-fest though and you are probably better off simply playing your hand and not your opponent. In the end though don’t believe that online poker has less tells than live poker, if anything it only makes the tells more obvious.