4 Easy-to-Spot Physical Tells in Beginner Poker Players
We all know that often “strong means weak” and “weak means strong,” but spotting poker tells goes far beyond that.
Some will tell you that there are few “obvious” tells at the live poker table, but experienced players will confirm that low-stakes games are rife with players giving off physical tells without having a clue they are doing so.
Below are a few physical tells you will see given off by beginner poker players. While you won’t spot them in every game, spotting just one at the right time might save you from getting stacked.
1. Uncontrollable Shaking
Poker is an exciting game and, for some players, it's a level of excitement that their body isn’t used to. A new poker player’s hands may start to shake uncontrollably when they go to pull off a big bluff while others will do so when they have a big hand.
The shaking occurs as a result of the release of adrenalin into the player’s bloodstream. It is a reaction that they cannot control and will typically continue for a couple of minutes after the hand is over.
Watch anyone exhibiting this tell and see what, if anything, they show down. Continue watching to see if that tell continues for a bit after the hand or it stops as soon as the other player folds.
Anyone who stops “shaking” instantly is faking it to give off a false tell. Chances are they are not that new to the game.
2. Overly Calm or Stoic Movements
On the other end of the spectrum are players that give off what we call “tells of calm.” If a player suddenly becomes very calm and stoic in their movements, then chances are that they have a big hand.
This player may even noticeably sit up once they look at their cards or start eyeballing the game very intently.
T.J. Cloutier gave off a similar tell during a World Series of Poker broadcast a few years ago. Phil Hellmuth was commentating, picked up on the tell and predicted that Cloutier had just picked up pocket aces.
Sure enough, Cloutier showed down aces to take the pot and double-up. This tell is almost always a sign of strength.
3. Dinnertime Tell
For casinos that offer table-side food service, pay close attention to poker players that are eating while playing.
Since they are trying to satisfy their need for nourishment, this is often a good time to attack their blinds as they are going to become a folding machine.
However, if this hungry player stops eating to play a hand, it is probably time to get out of the hand. The same type of tell goes for anyone that suddenly stops most any non-poker related activity to play a hand.
If it's good enough to pull a player away from a $30 dinner, it might be time to fold.
4. Betting With Profit Chips
In many live casinos you'll encounter players that keep such a tight reign on their wins and losses that they even separate their stack into a profit and buy-in stack.
For example, a player buys-in for $100 and runs it up to $150. He then splits it into a $100 and $50 stack.
The $50 stack is the profit stack and you will notice he will only use his main buy-in stack for posting blinds, making bets, etc. When he wins a hand, he'll replenish the buy-in stack and add the overage to the profit stack.
The profit stack almost never gets touched unless he's all-in or in special circumstances. There is a psychological reason behind this profit stack. However, if you start seeing a player suddenly start to bet from it, be careful.
What has happened is that the player has a hand that they feel comfortable will win and they can bet their profit chips without any risk. Astute players will pick up on this and you may even hear some players needle him or her after the hand.
Tight players doing this will almost always have the nuts. This is a fold situation unless you’re the one actually holding the nuts.