Home » How to Read Body Language During a Poker Game

How to Read Body Language During a Poker Game

Home » How to Read Body Language During a Poker Game

How to Read Body Language During a Poker Game

Poker player holding a pair of aces and money at a table with colorful lights in the background

No doubt about it, poker keeps getting more popular as time goes by. One of the reasons is that you play against other players, unlike most other casino games that pit you against a dealer or the house. It also seems we can’t get enough of watching the pros try to out-psych and outsmart each other in live and now increasingly, online poker sessions.   

If you ever intend to play live poker then to get the most out of your game, you’ll need to study your opponents’ tells and learn to get on top of your own. To get you started, we’re taking a look at how to read body language during a poker game, and remember that you can practice most of our advice when you play poker online. We’ll also explain how. Let’s get started. 

Movement of hands and feet 

Some of the most obvious poker tells involve hand movements. Body-language experts tell us that larger, more pronounced hand movements tend to either point to that person telling a lie or trying very hard to convince you of something. The same can be said for the feet and legs, although these movements are less obvious when you’re seated at a table. Crossing and uncrossing the legs or wrapping a foot around an ankle tend to point to tension, which could mean that that opponent has a weak hand.  

Keep in mind when deciphering hand and foot movements that an overly nervous player might be new to the game and giving away their status as a novice by unconsciously displaying anxious body language. If, on the other hand, you’re new to poker, one of the best ways you can avoid giving yourself away is by playing poker games online to get rid of the nervousness so when you finally play live, you’re feeling confident and won’t give off nervous vibes. Instead, you’ll relax and be in the zone.  

The eye test

A woman wearing a hoodie and sunglasses checks her cards at a poker table.

Most of us are pretty good at reading the expressions in another person’s eyes. This is because they tend to give away a lot. Ever noticed how many professional poker players wear sunglasses? That’s because even the pros have a hard time keeping the emotion from their eyes. So how can you use this to your advantage? 

Did you know that we tend to look left when remembering imagery or during internal dialogue, straight ahead when processing immediate sensory information, and to the right when constructing imagery or processing our feelings? Some studies suggest that when a person is telling a lie or trying to conceal something, they’ll tend to look to the right. 

Another tell that might suggest your opponent is bluffing is the eye blink. It’s thought that when the rate a person blinks slows down then suddenly speeds up, they’re not being entirely truthful. It’s thought this is due to an increase in heart rate – the result of stress when a person tells a lie.

Decoding micro expressions

According to the experts, there are seven universal expressions: fear, disgust, anger, sadness, happiness, surprise, and contempt. A bluff can often be spotted when a micro expression is followed by behavior that contradicts the expression. For example, a look of fear (usually only lasting a few seconds) followed by bravado. 

To pick up on micro expressions you’ll need to be super-alert and observant through a game, and get in a lot of practice. At first, you’ll need to work hard at decoding your opponents’ tells but it does get easier the longer you stick at it. (Of course, if you play poker with a regular group you’ll have an ongoing opportunity to finetune your knowledge of their micro expressions – but so will they!)

How to work on your own tells 

While you’re sizing up other players at the poker table, they’ll be doing the same to you. Playing poker at BetMGM, one of the best online poker sites in the USA, is a great way to work on your own tells. Since your opponents can’t see you, you can practice with no pressure at all. And you can go at your own pace without feeling rushed into anything.

Be aware of how you react as a game progresses and work on keeping control of your body language and micro expressions. You could even use a mirror to see what your face looks like while you play: Like all things in life, practice makes perfect! Taking part in online poker tournaments is one of the best ways to not only hone your online poker tournament strategy, it also gives you the chance to work on your tells (without “telling,” because you’re behind a screen.) 

It’s useful to keep in mind with body language that there can be a number of reasons why a person may use exaggerated hand movements or blink often. It could be that they’re in the habit of “talking with their hands,” have a naturally nervous temperament or their eyes are sensitive to artificial light. To accurately read other players in a poker game, you’ll need to take in all aspects of their body language and draw your conclusions from there. 

Get on top of your tells at BetMGM

Take advantage of some of the best online poker in the USA at our online casino. You can choose from a variety of tournaments and play wherever you happen to be. Our BetMGM site hosts over 70 tournaments daily as well as the Network Sunday $35,000 Tournament, when you have the opportunity to play in one of the biggest Sunday majors around. 

You can also access some of the best poker tournament tips on our site, whether you’re a novice learning the basics or want to brush up on your existing skills. It’s easy to register at BetMGM, and we offer an unbeatable poker experience, no matter what your choice might be!