Poker Strategy: The Fake Tell


Being able to observe and analyze your opponent’s behavior will give you an edge at the poker table. By being observant, you will able to identify tells and use them to your advantage. A 'tell' in poker refers to a particular behavior that a player displays unknowingly, giving away hints about his or her hand. But then, there are a few experienced poker players who can fake a tell, just to mislead their opponents and give them the wrong idea about their hand. Not only that, they can even use a player’s false tell against him or her, and make their way to the pot.

What are Fake Tells?

When a player fakes a tell, he is deliberately displaying it to get the attention of the observant opponents who are looking for tells. Fake tells are meant to mislead the opponents, and can be a great weapon in a poker player’s arsenal provided they are used the right way. A fake tell, also referred to as a reverse tell, can be used at any time during the game, whenever your opponents think that they have identified your tells.

How to Fake a Tell

Faking a tell would be useless when nobody is paying any attention to you. If you find any opponents who are observing you for tells, you can fake a tell to mislead them. Reverse tells intend to show the opponents exactly the opposite of what you have in hand. But that does not always mean you should stick to the “weak is strong and strong is weak” principle. That would only make it easier for opponents to identify your hand strength and turn your plans upside-down.

Like tells, reverse tells are also relative to an individual’s body language and mannerisms. That is why there aren’t any set rules or standards on how to fake a tell, and why very few players even attempt to use it. However, there are a few general behavioral tendencies which can be used to manipulate and mislead your opponents.

Fake Fold

A fake fold is a reverse tell that only a few experienced poker players tend to use, doing so when they have a strong hand. Players using this reverse tell would usually give the impression that they are going to fold, but raise the blinds by a huge margin when the others start folding to them. Considering that most players go with the weak-strong principle in tells, your opponents would get an impression that you have a weak hand, and can call your raise or even go all-in, leaving you a huge pot to win.

cBet Fake Tell

The way you handle your poker chips is a common tell, which most people look for. For instance, when you are constantly reaching out to the chips before your turn, it may indicate the strength of your hand to your opponents and show that you are eager to bet.

The cBet fake tell uses the same kind of behavior to send out the wrong message to the opponents. In this, a player gives the impression that he would be using the continuous bet or cBet poker strategy, where he raises pre-flop, and calls on the flop. However, the player hesitates a moment and checks instead of calling on the flop. This is to give the aggressive opponents an impression that he has a weaker hand, hence the hesitation. This will make them raise the pot or even go all-in in some cases.

This reverse tell can be great if you have a really strong hand and if you want your opponents to think that you are bluffing. Also, this technique should be aimed at players who are aggressive and tend to bet the most.

Identifying Fake Tells

Identifying a fake tell may not be always easy, as tells are relative to an individual’s behavior. Fake tells are almost always deliberate. Unless you are dealing with an expert poker player or if you are not observant, you may be able to identify them right away. However, what you may think as a reverse tell may simply be a natural mannerism of the player, who you know very little about. For instance, when you see a player’s hand shivering, you tend to assume that they are faking it to give the impression of a strong hand. This may not always be correct, as the player may simply be suffering from nervous disorder and not trying to fake a tell.

While you may not always be able to figure out a fake tell, the best way to try and identify them, is to stay alert and be watchful of players mannerisms. Most of the time the ‘actors’ who deliberately fake a tell tend to overdo it, thinking they cannot be read, which makes them easy to identify.

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