Besides having a factor of luck as all casino games do, poker is primarily a game of skill. And where there’s skill involved there is a chance to get better at it. One of the most important skills you can hope to perfect if you want to become a professional player is the ability to read body language. Body language might even be a more accurate indicator as to what cards your opponent is holding than seeing them with your own eyes. And this article is here to provide you with a few tips on how to use that information to your advantage.
What is a Tell?
The first thing to consider when trying to read into people’s body language is the so-called tell. By tell we imply a conscious or unconscious action of a player that provides you with information about either the strength of their hands or their future decisions. It usually manifests in the form of a noticeable body language change in one’s behavior or demeanor. Let’s go through some common body language tells to help you recognize them next time you sit at the poker table.
The face is the most obvious tell to start from because it’s the first thing to come to your attention. Keep track of any change in facial expressions, such as twitches, biting and licking the lips, or stroking the chin. Twitches are most difficult to control for even the most skilled players so try to catch them at crucial turns in the game. Licking and biting the lips indicates dryness of the mouth which itself is a sign of anxiety. The same can be said about face touching such as beard-stroking which is an exercise meant to help one relax. So, if you notice an unusual amount of these practices in other players, know that it may be a coping mechanism to deal with their weak hands.
The Hands & Legs
The second thing to pay attention to when playing poker with other players is the position of their hands. And that position can tell you quite a lot about the strength of their hand. Most body language experts will tell you that the more pronounced the hand movements gets the more stuff the player tries to hide. Cracking the knuckles, running fingers through the hair, pulling at the sleeves and fidgeting are all signs of nervousness. And if you see they keep them under the table all the time, they probably have a stress overflow. The same can be said about the legs if you get the chance to notice them of course. Constantly crossing and uncrossing legs or wrapping a foot around the ankle usually means they have a weak hand. And that’s your chance to capitalize on.
“The eyes, chico. They never lie.” In the sea of overused phrases from the Scarface movie, this one will never get old. The eyes are the most powerful conveyor of emotion and simultaneously type of body language that’s most difficult to hide. That’s why you see professional players putting on the shades when you know it’s not the Sun they’re hiding from. What they are trying to hide is their true intentions. But if you’re up against more inexperienced players try to observe whether their pupils dilate or the direction of their gaze. Studies suggest that people tend to look to their right when they want to hide something, and if you catch them doing it you might be onto something too.
Poker is a game that can be played without a single utterance, by using simple gestures to further the game. And that’s how most professional players usually tend to play. But there are instances where they can use it as a tool to talk you down. Those instances are a rare occurrence and trying to strike up a conversation is usually more revealing than concealing. Nervous players try to cover up their nervousness by chatting with their opponents. But it will almost unmistakably be followed by the shakiness of the voice interrupted with moments of awkward silence. Also, beware of the players who are usually talkative and suddenly go silent and vice versa. This is without fail a tell-tale sign of hidden agenda.
What About Online Poker?
You might think body language is completely out of the picture when playing online poker which isn’t far from the truth because you cannot see opponents when playing, but there are other tells that can help you achieve similar results. Some of them are the timing of the play, betting patterns, and the number of chips one is ready to use which can reveal a lot. But online poker is also a great way to practice until your confidence level raises to the level that makes you ready to deal with the pressure of live versions. Mr. Yabby’s crypto casino has a lot of online poker games to offer you, including the live dealer ones, so go out and check them, and you’ll be good to go in no time!