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Identify and Use Timing Tells in Poker

Home » Identify and Use Timing Tells in Poker

Identify and Use Timing Tells in Poker

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Timing tells are everything when it comes to reading your poker opponents. They can give you valuable information about the strength of their hands and how they’re likely to play them. Included in this guide are the most common poker tells and how you can use some of these to your advantage.

What Are Timing Tells?

Timing tells are poker patterns — physical or behavioral cues that players give off when they’re thinking about their hands. This often gives away the strength of their hand. These cues can be anything from the length of time they take to act to the way they fidget or look at their cards.

While the body language cues that are prevalent in live poker do not exist in online poker, there remain a number of clues that people give off which suggest what type of hand they’re holding. These are mostly related to their betting patterns and the timing of their actions.

Examples of Timing Tells

three men are playing poker at home in casual clothing, there are stacks of poker chips on the table and the two men are looking at the one whose turn it is

Taking a Long Time To Act

This can be a sign that a player has a strong hand and is trying to decide whether to bet or raise.

If an opponent thinks for an inordinate amount of time before making a call, this is known as “tanking.” If a player calls after taking a long time, it could be a sign that they were considering all of his options before making a decision. You can be pretty sure that their range won’t often hold a lot of marginal hands.

Anytime someone thinks (or pretends to think) for a very long time before acting and then raises, you can count on your opponent having a very good hand.

Acting Quickly

This can be a poker tell that a player has a weak hand and is trying to get rid of it as quickly as possible. When a player quickly checks and then instantly calls a bet, it often indicates that they have a hand of medium strength. They’re probably planning to call for one or two more rounds of betting, but if their hand doesn’t improve, they’re likely to give up and fold.

Hollywood Action

In live poker, this is when a player takes a long time to decide between calling and folding and then suddenly raises. This is a reliable tell that the player has a strong hand, especially if it’s someone who’s not regarded as a strong player.

The Auto Flop Bet

The auto flop CBet is often made by somebody who has a mediocre hand at best. In general, people are more likely to put some thought into what action they want to take if they have a big hand. The same goes for a total bluff. You should routinely raise these bets up.

The Donk Bet

A donk bet is when an out-of-position player leads into the person who was the aggressor on the prior street. This most often occurs on the flop and is one of the most annoying actions in poker. Even so, if you understand how poker players think, it can be used to your advantage. 

How To Identify Timing Tells

five people are sitting around a green felt poker table in a casino, one man sitting next to a smiling lady throws a handful of poker chips, a couple are looking at each other while the woman is standing holding a drink and the man on the end is looking to his side and smiling towards the camera

Timing tells can be difficult to identify, but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of spotting them. First, you need to establish a baseline for each player. This will help you to identify when a player’s timing is deviating from their normal pattern.

Pay Attention to How Long Your Opponents Take To Act

This is one of the most important things you can do to identify timing tells. If you notice that a player consistently takes a long time to act, it’s a good indication that they are trying to hide something.

Look for Physical Cues

Timing tells can also be displayed through physical cues, such as fidgeting or looking at their cards repeatedly. If you notice that a player is doing any of these things, it’s a good indication that they’re unsure about their hand.

Pay Attention to the Context

Timing tells can also be interpreted differently depending on the context. For example, if a player takes a long time to act on the river, it could be a sign that they have a strong hand. However, if they take a long time to act on the flop, it could be a sign that they are unsure about their hand.

Look for Regs

When a regular player (reg) is playing multiple tables, they’re likely seeking out tables with big hands and paying more attention to those. Here, the reg’s reaction time is expected to be quicker, because they are already focused on that particular table and know what actions to take. 

Conversely, if a reg takes a long time to make a decision, it’s speculated that they’re reviewing their Heads-Up Display (HUD) and analyzing various statistics to gather information for a potentially deceptive move, such as a light 3-bet or 4-bet.

How To Use Timing Tells to Your Advantage

If you know that a player is likely to have a strong hand, you can make a decision to fold your hand or to bet smaller. Or, if you know that a player is likely to fold if you take a long time to act, you can use this to your advantage by bluffing them.

By paying attention to timing tells over time, you can also start to build a profile of your opponents. 

Other common online poker tells you can use to your advantage include observing players who complain about how others play. This usually indicates that they’re level two players who play poker online in a rigid TAG (tight aggressive) style. If an overly talkative player suddenly goes quiet, they almost certainly have a monster hand. 

Play Online Poker at BetMGM

Timing tells can be a valuable tool for reading your opponents in poker. You can use these cues both in real life and when you register with BetMGM to play at a table online. By paying attention to how long your opponents take to act and to their physical cues, you can gain valuable insights into their hands. This information can help you make better decisions about your own play and to bluff your opponents more effectively.

Timing tells are essential for reading your opponents in poker. Here’s how you can identify them and use them to your advantage.