Poker Strategy: The Fake Tell

Poker Strategy: The Fake Tell

With over 80% of our communication being non-verbal it is important for the poker player to understand that players are constantly offering clues about their hand strength. Body language poker tells are everywhere. As observant poker players, we can and should use this information to our advantage.

Building your observation skills to notice the things that swing the pendulum in your favour and supercharge your poker playing abilities. Learning good poker strategy is essential to becoming a poker expert but becoming a skilled poker tell detective can take your game to the next level.

Know What a Tell Is and How to Identify One

When a player, either consciously or not, gives information about their hand in a consistent way this is known as a ‘tell’. In live poker there are a number of common poker tells to be aware of. Here is a list of a few of the most common poker tells.

  • Covering hole cards with a chip only when strong before it is their turn to act.
  • Acting impatiently. This usually indicates strength.
  • Suddenly appearing fearless, even in pressure situations
  • Bet sizing changes.
  • Changes in breathing patterns or physical actions, e.g. suddenly becoming very still.
  • Voice changes, including gulping and swallowing.

It is not always immediately clear what a tell means. Only by observing your opponents can you make that distinction so remain flexible before concluding a tell is valid. One instance where you spot something is not necessarily a tell you can rely on. The key point is to always be watching and assessing your opponents for clues. Also remember not to overly rely on tells, this is a mistake many poker players make and live to regret.

Online poker tells are a little harder to identify and obviously it is not possible to pick up on physical tells but bet sizing tells are among the most common online poker tells. Many players play multiple tables and play a very basic ABC style of poker and they do not care that they have these tells. They bank on their small edge and play high volume to make up for spots where they can be exploited. So keep your eyes open for easy opportunities, even against professional poker players.

Before we get too carried away and think we have discovered poker’s silver bullet, remember that information can also be used to deceive you. This is known as a ‘fake tell’.

What are Fake Tells?

Fake tells are actions taken to induce an opponent to make a play because of trust in the observed action that the player making the action knows to be fake. Fake tells acknowledge the fact that verbal and non-verbal tells are available to observant opponents and seek to redress the balance by exercising control over what the opponent observes. It can be a very powerful tactic in winning in marginal situations.

How to Fake a Tell

Before executing a fake tell you must profile your opponent. Are they capable of picking up on the information you are falsely providing to them? A weak opponent has enough to worry about trying to survive and will be unlikely to spot a subtle false tell. The opportunity and the danger in fake tells is that only good players will be susceptible to them.

You must not oversell. You are treading a fine line because in our list of likely tells we know that “weak can mean strong” and often open attempted deception can be a transparent tactic that quickly backfires. Only fake a tell once as a repeated fake tells can be noticed, logged and used against you by a quality opponent! Don’t overuse fake tells, combine them with well-timed poker bluffs to keep your opponents guessing.

Fake Fold

In the big blind you often have to wait sometime until the action comes around to you. Often a player will appear disinterested in a hand and then fold without drama. You can initiate a fake fold by appearing disinterested in a hand and then raising at the last minute. An observant opponent hopefully saw your initial apparent weakness and sensed your raise was not consistent with your apparently weak behaviour and to take advantage they re-raise your bluff. As you only fake fold with a big hand you can potentially win a large pot because you then re-raise with the goods.

c-Bet Fake Tell

Early poker strategy says to raise pre-flop then make a bet on the flop, which is known as a continuation bet or ‘c-bet’. A c-bet fake tell is where a player raises pre-flop and then hesitates a moment before the predictable c-bet, seemingly reluctant to make another bet on the flop. They hope the opponent senses weakness and attempts to take control of the hand by betting. This is a strategy best used against aggressive players who need little encouragement to bet. You then come over the top with a strong re-raise.

Identifying Fake Tells

Identifying fake tells is very difficult. What you perceive as a tell may simply be your opponent reacting to a hand or being themselves. It may simply be a genuine tell that you can use in your decision-making without suspicion. You must be observant, sceptical and careful.

Only practice will help you learn and yes, you will make mistakes. But over time you will make fewer mistakes but thankfully there are many poker sites to play on where you can play hands and gain invaluable knowledge and experience. Remember to use fake tells as part of your poker strategy and remember to watch for them being used on you.

Practice Harnessing the Online Poker Tell

Now you have some more knowledge on what to look out for at the Poker Table with regards to Poker Tells it’s only going to be worthwhile if you put in the practice to hone your suspicions into potentially money-making Poker tactics.

Attempting this in live cash games at the local casino could prove a lot of fun but also might be super costly with set buy-ins and increasing cash limits – not to mention potentially ungodly social hours lost to smoky rooms and intimidating atmospheres. But let’s be honest that is where you will see most of this kind of action go down. Personalities and physical presence are the two elements of a Poker Tell that are impossible to properly recreate when playing online, although many of our suggested Poker operators will allow live player chat during online games which is a brilliant addition to the online Poker space.

This gives the chance to interact positively or negatively with the players at the same virtual table – the best thing about that is you can choose to participate or not, which you can’t do when all the players are sat around the same symmetrical poker table and the cards are coming thick and fast from a flustered dealer.

“Therefore taking the time to test your Poker Tells at the online poker table makes a lot of sense – bet size tells are the key ingredient here and with small stakes via sensible cash limit tables or low entry tournament poker you can get in many hours of play from the comfort of home and assess multiple playing styles that really do base themselves on utilising the online Poker tells and strategy we have discussed.”

This will allow you to form your own style and master the art of spotting others on the bluff whilst executing potentially lucrative fake tell moves of your own.

Check out our suggested operators that cater to just this type of play and see what you can pick up.

Recommended Poker Sites

shield of trust Secure trusted partners Trusted star verified Verified
Affiliate Disclosure: At Gambling.com, we want to ensure that players are matched with the right casino and sportsbook offers for them. For this reason, some of the recommended site links are affiliate links. This means that if you visit a website through our link and make a deposit, Gambling.com will receive a commission payment at no extra cost to you. At Gambling.com, we want to ensure that players are matched with the right casino and sportsbook offers for them. For this reason, some of the recommended site links are affiliate links. More
  1. 1
    PartyPoker
    Established 1997
    More info
    Deposit £10, receive up to £40 in Free Play
    Official Partner of F1 McLaren Racing Team
    Poker Ambassadors Kevin Hart & Carl Froch
    Earn up to 40% Cashback Every Week
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    No
    One of the pioneers of online poker, PartyPoker was once the world’s biggest poker site and they still host huge online tournaments such as the prestigious MILLIONS series - with a $1million guaranteed main event, plus satellites to PartyPoker live events.
  2. 2
    888 Poker
    Established 1997
    More info
    100% Welcome Bonus up to $888 + £20 Free Bonus
    'Online Poker Operator of the Year' 2022
    Unique BLAST & SNAP Fast-Fold Games
    Satellites to Exclusive Online XL Series
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    NEW888
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    Yes
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    Yes
    With over 10 million registered members, 888poker is one of the world’s largest poker networks and they also have their own live circuit featuring some of the most prestigious poker events in the world, with destinations such as London, Barcelona and Bucharest.
  3. 3
    Double Bubble Poker
    Established 2021
    More info
    Play £10, Get 50 Extra Spins
    Exclusive 'Wild Seat Poker' Texas Hold'em
    Instant Play Software (No Download Required)
    Poker Tutorial Videos to Improve Your Play
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    No
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    No
    Double Bubble Poker is a fun place for beginners with a friendly interface, welcoming hosts and pocket-friendly tournament entry fees starting at just £0.01.
  4. 4
    GG Poker
    Established 2014
    More info
    Deposit £10, Claim £40
    Largest Online Poker Site in the World
    World Series of Poker™ Official Partner
    External Tools & Tracking Software Blocked
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    Yes
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    No
    GG Poker offers award winning features include EV Cashout, Snap Cam, NFT Avatars and Squeeze Cards. You can also play online with GGTeam Pro Players Daniel Negreanu, 'ElkY' Grospellier and Jason Kroon.
  5. 5
    PokerStars Poker
    Established 2015
    More info
    Bet £10 Get £40 Free Play
    Owner & Sponsor of the European Poker Tour
    Official Partner of the Red Bull F1 Racing Team
    Signed Neymar Jr as 'Cultural Ambassador'
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    FORTY
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    Yes
    PokerStars host some of the biggest online poker tournaments including the famous Sunday Million which has a $1million guaranteed prize pool, plus exclusive satellites to the European Poker Tour.
  6. 6
    Coral Poker
    Established 2002
    More info
    Deposit £20, receive up to $30 in Tournament Tickets
    Sit & Go Leaderboards with Daily Prizes
    MyGame Whiz - Personal Poker Coach
    Up To 40% Automated Weekly Cashback
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    No
    At Coral Poker you can qualify for big online and live poker tournaments, including the Irish Open and UK Grand Prix, plus the high roller MILLIONS tournament series.
  7. 7
    Bet365 Poker
    Established 2001
    More info
    bet365 Poker - Welcome Package of up to €365
    63 Million Customers in Over 150 Countries
    Regular Tournament Series Events
    Twister Sit & Go's with Jackpot Prize-Pools
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    No
    Bet365 Poker offer regular Cash Games, Sit & Gos & Tournaments, plus premium tables where you'll play exclusively against Bet365 players only. They also provide 24/7 customer support.
  8. 8
    Paddy Power Poker
    Established 2004
    More info
    Bet £20, receive up to £50 in Tournament Tickets
    Sponsors of the Irish Poker Tour & Championship
    Daily & Weekly Freerolls with Big Rewards
    £12.5K of Prizes in Weekly Twister Races
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    Yes
    Paddy Power Poker have a 'Twitch Team' of poker ambassadors, who you can enjoy live interaction with as they broadcast MTTs & Cash Games via their Twitch channels.
  9. 9
    Grosvenor Poker
    Established 2007
    More info
    Earn up to 40% Rakeback
    Online Home of the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour
    Qualify for 'National Poker League' Events
    'Loyalty Club' - Earn Up To 40% Rakeback
    Bonus Code
    The code required to claim this sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    Yes
    WSOP Satellites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Home Games
    Can you set up private online poker games with friends?
    Yes
    Grosvenor Poker can reasonably be called the home of UK poker, with exclusive satellites to live events taking place at Grosvenor Casinos across the England, Scotland & Wales, including the GUKPT and the biggest live poker tournament in Europe - the Goliath.
×