BLOG – Timing tells in the online game.

BLOG – Timing tells in the online game.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Before the Internet (yes, there was such a time, I've been told) poker was a game where your continuation bet frequency and VPIP/PFR meant nothing.

In those days of yore, when Hellmuth was king (and didn't just think he was), the strength of your opponent's hand was not weighted from a carefully analysed range based on statistical tendencies; it was judged from the way he smoked a cigarette, the uncomfortable fidget of fingers on felt, the twitch at the side of his set lips.

Caro's Book of Tells was the definitive poker volume before PokerTracker and online play came along. Most players now judge tells as relics of a bygone age - who needs nervous tics and subtle fluctations in body language when you have a 12,000 hand sample and extensive notes that tells you this turn check-raise is a semi-bluff?

Well, I'm not going to argue with that. However, tells are not dead - anyone who has ever played a live game is familiar with that gut feeling that you're up against a bluff or a monster. They're real, and just because your opponent is a faceless collection of pixels on a computer monitor doesn't mean you can't make a thin call or a massive bluff based on subconcious signals.

Caro says that the second a player sits down at the table you should judge his appearance to ascertain hints of his character. A smartly-dressed opponent will be tight, whereas someone who stacks their chips in unordered and huge piles or doesn't iron their shirt is likely to be loose.
Well, I don't know how true that theory is insofar as that I look like shite 87% of the time but I'm very OCD about my chip stacks. VPIP: 26 PFR: 24 - you be the judge.

Well, that aside, there's a man who knows a lot more about this online poker malarkey than I do. Actually there are several thousand, but this guy is one of the best ones.

Hunter Bick is a coach and CEO at highly recommended video training site Drag The Bar alongside such names as Dusty “leatherass” Schmidt.

Evidently, having an awesome name is a requirement to be a Drag The Bar coach. A heads-up specialist, Hunter has made more money from timing tells alone than many people can hope to see at a poker table.

You raise before the flop and a fish calls from the big blind, as fish do. The board is 7c-9d-2h and he checks. You fire out a decent sized continuation bet and he calls before your chips have reached the middle. What does this mean?

“This tell is fairly common, especially among weaker players who are not aware of it,” says Hunter. “Most decent players are more careful about it these days, but its useful nonetheless.  Basically it signifies that the player that insta-calls has a medium strength hand or a big draw, usually something decent but not great and is trying to get to showdown with.  Why he would hit the call button automatically without thinking about it? Basically he is somewhat nervous and very anxious to just see the next card as soon as possible.”

In this example it is likely that our opponent holds a hand like 76 or T8, maybe even something as weak as A2. If the turn and river cards are paint or aces then it’s a great spot to fire a second and third barrel to try and take down the pot.

The full article is in the latest issue of Bluff Europe magazine, available at your local cardroom – though you should really get a subscription and have it delivered to your door, right?
Yeah, ya should.

is a highly recommended video training site which currently offers 30 days free with purchase of Dusty Schmidt’s Treat Your Poker Like a Business available now.

Tags: Poker News, BLOG, , Timing, tells, in, the, online, game.