Your Guide To Online Poker Tells

Learn which online poker tells to look out for, and therefore avoid making yourself, with our free guide.

Online poker tells are never going to be as reliable as live tells but you need to know about them. The best live poker players can get a tell off a player and use it to their advantage. This may be how they peeked at their cards to how they put their chips in the pot. Online poker players also pick up on tells, but they have to focus on different areas.

We’ll cover the most common online poker tells over the next few hundred words. It’s worth your time, especially if you’re new to online poker, to commit these to memory. Not only can knowing about them help you win pots, but they can also save you chips by making you aware of tells you may be giving off yourself.

Player Based Online Poker Tells

Online players are at a disadvantage in they don’t get to see their opponents. All they see is an alias and an avatar, yet you can use this to your advantage.

A player’s alias often reveals something about them. A name such as “Jimmy1980” suggests they are 40-years of age because the number could be their birth year. Likewise, “Jimmy2019” suggests they started playing poker, at least on this site, in 2019.

Be aware of players calling themselves poker terms, including “TightFish01” and “Loser79” because they are usually the opposite of what they’re trying to suggest. I know of a very solid player calling themselves “GolfPro72”. They chose this name to pretend they were a middle-aged man!

Always be aware a player may be trying to give you a false tell with their alias or avatar. Take notes on their playing styles until you have a solid picture of them.

Search for your opponents to see if they’re playing on multiple tables. Anyone playing four or more tables takes their game seriously.

Online Poker Tells Based on Timing

Most online poker tells revolve around timing. These are not 100% concrete, like most tells, but they give an indication of hand strength.

An instant check, for example, is a sign of weakness. Your opponent will fold to a bet or is trying to get to showdown cheaply. They’ve checked without any consideration for any other option. They’ve done with by clicking the checkbox most probably. Proceed with caution if an instant check is followed by a check-raise. Your opponent has feigned weakness to make you bet and you’ve taken the bait.

Instantly betting or raising is an indication of a strong hand for similar reasons as they instant check. Your opponent can’t wait to get some more chips into the middle of the table. Why would you do this if it was you? Because you’re super strong and can’t wait to win the hand, that’s why!

A quick call is often the sign of a marginal or weak hand. Players do this to show they’re not going anywhere, hoping you slow down on later streets. Expect them to be on a draw or middle pair.

The delayed check is another of the common online poker tells. Your opponent pauses for a few moments before checking. They’re trying to pretend they have a strong hand they’re considering betting, but have opted to check instead.

Another online poker tells to be aware of is the long pause before betting or raising. This is an indication of a strong hand. The long pause is them pretending to be weak only for them to bet or raise on a bluff.

Bet Sizing Tells

It used to be much easier to pick up on bet-size related online poker tells. Players tended to be straight forward with their bet sizes. They’d bet 66-75% of the pot with a strong hand, and half-pot with weaker hands or draws.

Modern poker players vary their bet sizes all the time. It’s not uncommon to see a continuation-bet of only 30% the size of the pot.

You need to look out for patterns in your opponents’ play. What hands did they showdown when they’d bet 30/50/75/100% of the pot? Did they bet whole amounts and have now bet $9.72? What hand did they show at the conclusion of the hand?

Always take notes to back up any potential online poker tells you think you may have. Only act on these tells once you have a high degree of certainty they are actually tells.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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