Originally Posted by arbinator
Ive been playing for a while and i still find it hard to spot tells, you get the obvious ones every now and then when someone gets all excited when a card comes over. But has anyone got any ideas on what to look for. One thing i do try to follow is to watch the players rather than the cards as the flop, turn and river come out.
Also how do you know if you have any recurring tells - and does anyone make up tells to try and through the other players off?
Also you see lots of people playing with sun glassess any preference, do you really think your eyes give that much away?
Not sure if I can answer all of your questions here (there's a lot!) since if I do, it'll be very long. So I'll briefly write out my thoughts right now.
Spotting tells aren't easy, so try not to get frustrated just because you're not picking up on anything. In fact, sometimes tells that you think you have on someone is actually a false positive - that is, it's not a tell but you may have picked up on a certain behavior given the circumstances and thought it was a tell.
Reading behavior comes with patience and being careful in your observations (trust me, as a psychology grad student, there's a lot of behavioral observation that goes on but that still doesn't make us experts!). There's no one specific thing you should look for because basing your decision on a single behavior can get you in big trouble. Humans are complex beings and we can't simply infer on a player's strength or weakness of hands based on one or two behaviors. Certain types of recurring behaviors may be an indication of something though. Keep in mind that we're "creatures of habit" (ugh, I hate that phrase) and those who aren't very self-aware at the poker table may show habitual responses (e.g., how you throw your chips in when you bet).
Watching the players is a good start but you might want to develop a more structured method. You can't watch everyone all at once, so pick certain people and then expand the people you observe gradually. For instance, players who would have the most immediate impact on your game (those to your left and right) might be a place to start.
You'll notice that I haven't mentioned what to look for because in all honesty I don't want to lead you down the wrong path. But here's what I
do - I tend to look at the player's hands and below (if I can see) to see if there are any consistent behaviors. I avoid basing tells just on facial expressions because the face can be deceptive - after all, haven't we all learned to mask our emotions at one point or another - not just in poker but in real life?
About recurring tells - I'd say this is a self-awareness issue. Chances are you won't notice your tells immediately so practicing playing poker in front of a mirror, videotaping your game, or having a friend observe you is a good way to see if you might be giving off tells. Also, yes, people do try to give off false tells - I don't think I can answer this question right here without writing a couple of paragraphs so I would suggest picking up a book or two about poker tells (e.g., Caro's Book of Poker Tells, Navarro's Read'em and Reap).
As for sunglasses, there are some benefits. One of the most commonly cited reasons is that wearing sunglasses prevents others from knowing that you're looking at them. But there's also another reason - a less commonly cited reason that has to do with giving away tells - I'll hold off on writing about that for now. Lets see what others have to say about your question before I keep on rambling on and on and boring the heck out of you all!
One last caution: Tells are not absolute, so be careful of how much stock you place on certain types of behaviors.