Playing the Player; Live Play Tells - 5K post
I figured I would do a special 5K post. I haven't done a lot of strategy posts, because frankly, there are much better players here at CC than me that have already made great strategy threads.. so, I figured I would post on something that I do know a little something about, and that's reading people at the live tables.
Why and how did I learn to read people?
I've always been interested in the human mind, and why people tick the way they do. My mom was a police officer for 12 years, and she would come home telling me all kinds of stories - from the funny stories, to the horror and gory stories, to the crazy stories - about her day at work. One thing she elaborated on was how she could tell when somebody was lying. The way they were standing, looking, stuttering, even blinking.. and her stories always interested me. Psychology also interested me in high school, which I took 2 years of, although I don't know how much it has really helped me in live poker; psychology is a beneficial subject for people to learn that may at least help understanding one's self, and give yourself a piece of mind (pun intended).
It's amazing what just paying attention to people and listening to what they have to say will do for you in life, and just learning about people in general. You can learn a lot by paying attention to one's reactions to your actions, and becoming more intuned with your reactions to other's actions as well.
Attitude at the Table
Something I was going to talk about in my 5K post was actually brought up a few weeks back by Grossberger
, so instead, I want to remind everyone about his post, Live Play Don'ts
This is a good read and very good advice, and others have added to the list as well. I recommend checking out his thread.
Playing the Player
Alright, now onto what this post is mainly about; reading your opponent. Now, I'll touch up on a few things here, but it's difficult to explain in text about reading players, because everybody is different and have different mannerisms.. but I'm going to do the best that I can.
Watch & Observe
For the first few rounds in live poker, I usually play really tight, only playing the best hands, as I'm watching my opponents. Who looks at their cards first, when they look at their cards, how they look at their cards, how they're sitting, the way their arms and hands move when they look at their cards...
stated in his thread, "Don't look at your cards until it is your turn".. you could miss some information that others give off when they look at their cards. When you are watching others, here are a few things that you should look out for:
Usually a sign of inexperienced players. The jittery-shaking hands/fingers are a sign that the player has a decent hand, and from what I've noticed, usually make a big bet from this. A lot of times when these players are all-in, their hands will shake due to nervousness. In this case, it may be best to get away from this hand, unless you have another read on him or her, have a monster hand, or are pot committed.
Also another sign of someone with a strong hand.. this comes along with the nervousness feeling that some inexperienced players get.
Scratching the ear
This is a tricky one, because it's an easy one to pick up and easy to manipulate. Originally, I found scratching the ear was a sign of a bluff.. but you have to pay attention if that player is intuned with what he/she is
doing, or if they are not even aware if they are doing it. If they are looking at your when they are scratching their ear, then they are usually trying to play a trick on you, thinking that you think they are bluffing, and may have a good starting hand.
Looking down at the table
This is usually a bluff, or are on a draw. When people look down (or look up for that matter).. it's a sign of thinking. In poker, they are probably thinking of their outs or their next move. Most of the time, I will reraise this player if they are looking down at the table.
Taking time to check
Players who take time to check are usually unsure of how strong their hand is. If you're going to bluff this player, bluff big.. because they won't fold a small bet. On the other hand, if you have a monster hand, it would be good to make a small bet and pull him/her along on the string.
These are just a few tells
that you can use at the table. The best experience to get tells from another player is by watching and observing your opponents yourself, though. An experienced player will change their tells up to confuse their opponents, or be able to not even give away a tell, or show very little of one.
Watch a change in people's posture and mannerisms when they have strong hands and when they are bluffing.. don't be afraid to pay someone off for some cheap information on how they handle themself on a bluff or a strong hand. It may help you in the long run.
Above all else.. enjoy yourself at the tables and have fun! Try not to give away too much information on your own habits, either.