Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Saw That

Dudley Smith: Go back to Jersey, Sonny. This is the City of the Angels and you haven't got any wings.
”L.A. Confidential”

Wow, somebody from the address has been reading this here blog archives. It’s good to see they are finally learning something that will do them good.

Bad times lie ahead. Already this year I have had to knock back two live games for different reasons – and the one tonight was uber soft too. Damn it, why can’t they plan ahead and have the game on weekend or at least a reasonable hour during the week.

So the little plan to play more live games this year is already starting to go down hill. I might even have to go a an actual casino to play – SHOCK! HORROR! Well, if you knew what the casino here in Sydney is like, it would be a shock and a horror.

The real pity is, right now in Melbourne is the Australian Poker Championships. By all accounts, this thing is hitting the roof as per attendances and action – and not surprising really, being the first major poker tournament in Australia since Joe Hachem won the big thing. You bet your ass his name and likeness is posted all over this thing right now. By all accounts, some real big names have made the trek to Melbourne too, and the tournament will be televised at some stage, which can only be good for Australian poker.

On the back of my recent feeble attempt to post some actual thought provoking content, I’m going to add here some of the most obvious tells you will see in your homes games. This is by no mean revolutionary stuff, and you won’t see these simple tell by most pros or high level players. You’d only really see them in your average home game, or at the World Series Main Event.

That was a little cynical, even for me.

All these tells are really basic and most everyone knows about them. If I ever read Caro’s book of tells, I’m willing to bet all are covered in there much better than what I have here. Having said that, there was a time that you didn’t know about them, so there is a chance somebody reading doesn’t know about them, therefore I might be able to help 1 person give less money to me. Wait – what was the point of this again?

OR if you are really clever, you might be able to turn a few of these into fake tells at your next home game. Trust me, that really messes with those “experienced” players.

EASY TELL 1 – “Looking out the window”

If during a hand a player tries their absolute best to seem disinterested in the hand, there is a fair chance they have a monster. This is part of the golden rule of amateur tells – Strength=weakness and vice versa. The type of player who usually gives away this tell isn’t brand spanking new to poker, but they are not that experienced either.

EASY TELL 2 – “Where are my chips?”

If after the flop, turn or river a player instantly glances down at their chips, that card or cards probably helped them. It’s an involuntary action because they can’t wait to get their chips into the middle. If that card completes a draw that you already have beaten, then start thinking about cashing in. If it was the draw that you were fearing, then it might be a check/fold situation.

EASY TELL 3 – “Falling Stacks”

When you see a player think about the situation, and then go all in you should notice how they move their chips and control themselves. Usually this is a very stressful decision – you either really want everyone to go away or really want someone to call. The added stress will allow for a few extra tells to come through.

One interesting tell that I have noticed is when they reach for their chips fumble slightly, knocking over their stacks. This is a sign of nerves and I have found that it usually happens when they are desperately trying to NOT show any tells in their actions. If I see someone do this, I’m folding everything but the nuts! More often than not, it signifies a big hand.

EASY TELL 4 – “….”

You know how the usual banter at the table goes on and on, especially as the beers keep flowing. Then after a flop, all of a sudden one guy stops talking and drops all conversation. Then he tries to resume casually where he left off, but is more interested in where the current action on the hand is. Yep, he’s got something interesting and is going to take some good cards to beat him out of this hand.


So you have been put to the test by another player – he’s staring you down like Howard Lederer, asking you stupid questions because he thinks he will get something out of how you respond. More than likely in the low level games he has seen the pros do this on the WPT, and Mike Sexton is running through his head. He knows that how you respond can give away your thoughts, but he really doesn’t know what he is looking for.

I’d say you have two routes here. Firstly, you are under no obligation to respond – so if you don’t want to, then don’t.
You could try throwing out some fake tells, which can work but relies on three things - how much your oppenent knows, how much attention they are paying and how good (or subtle) an actor you are. All can be tricky and could get you in more trouble than it is worth - but I love throwing out fake tells to $5 pros.

Secondly, and here is how you can throw 99.99% of poker players at the low levels, in both cash games and tournaments.

Don’t lie.

Yep, you’d be amazed at how many of this $5 pros get fooled by a player telling the truth. Because they try to lie every time (like when they get bluffed off their straight by a possible flush, then the opponent shows two pair they say all they had was top pair) they expect everyone else to.

As always, this should be tailored to your audience, but I can nearly guarantee that these tells will work in most amateur home games around the world.


skitch said...

Hey Heafy,

Thanks for your comment. Somehow though, I don't think being able to spend 17 hours straight in a casino qualifies me and my wife as great role models. :)

The $5 pros provide much amusement... my wife loves to dig on them at the table when they stare you down or agonize over a call. "C'mon, this isn't the WPT... what? Are you trying to make a living at 3/6???"

Yes, the "Telling the Truth" thing really works well. Especially at a passive table when it gets checked around on the flop and you hit your draw or kicker on the Turn. If I'm first to act, I'll throw out a bet and say, "Sweet, I hit my kicker!" or "Nice, there's my flush!" It's a great way to get an extra caller or two who might have a piece and think you're BS'ing.

This also gives you some bluff equity later on... when the scare card falls on the Turn and you lead out with, "Have I lied to you yet?" they'll have reason to start believing you!

Heafy said...

Spending 17 hours in a casino is exactly why you are role models!