Poker is a game that has captivated millions of players worldwide. While many focus on mastering the game’s statistical and mathematical aspects, understanding the psychological component is equally crucial to success.

One of the most valuable skills in poker is the ability to read your opponents’ tells.

In this article, we’ll explore the art of poker tells and how to use them to your advantage at the table. Learn how to become a pro at reading your opponents and taking advantage of their weaknesses.

Understanding poker tells

Poker tells are physical or verbal cues that reveal information about a player’s hand. They can range from subtle changes in body language to outright declarations of strength or weakness. Professional poker players study tells in order to gain an edge over their opponents.

Types of poker tells

There are two main types of poker tells: involuntary and voluntary.

Involuntary tells are subconscious reactions that a player has no control over. These can include things like changes in breathing, eye movements, and posture.

Voluntary tells, on the other hand, are intentional actions that a player uses to deceive their opponents. These can include false betting patterns, fake facial expressions, and verbal statements meant to mislead.

Common poker tells

While every player is unique, there are some common poker tells that you can look for at the table.

Nervousness – A player who is nervous may fidget, scratch, or shake. This could indicate a weak hand or a bluff.

Eye contact – A player who avoids eye contact may be trying to hide something. Conversely, a player who maintains eye contact may be trying to intimidate their opponents.

Breathing patterns – A player who is holding their breath may be bluffing, while a player who is breathing heavily may have a strong hand.

Chip handling – A player who is constantly shuffling their chips may be nervous or indecisive.

Verbal statements – A player who says things like “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” may be trying to hide the strength of their hand.

Reading your opponents

While it’s important to understand poker tells, it’s even more important to know how to use that information to your advantage. Here are some tips for reading your opponents like a pro:

Pay attention to the big picture – Look for patterns in your opponents’ behavior over time. Are they consistently nervous when they have a weak hand? Do they always make the same hand gestures when they have a strong hand?

Look for clusters of tells – A single tell may not mean much, but a cluster of tells can be a strong indication of your opponent’s hand.

Consider the context – Is your opponent playing aggressively or passively? Are they in early or late position? The context of the game can help you interpret your opponent’s behavior.

Trust your instincts – Sometimes, your gut instinct can be your best guide. If something feels off about your opponent’s behavior, pay attention to that feeling.


Reading your opponents’ poker tells can be a valuable tool in your arsenal as a poker player. However, it’s important to remember that tells are not foolproof indicators of your opponent’s hand.

Always consider the big picture, look for clusters of tells, and trust your instincts. With practice, you can become a pro at reading your opponents and taking advantage of their weaknesses at the table.