Playing live poker is quite a bit different from the online experience. Even if you’ve been playing online for a long time, your first visit to a live casino or poker room can be an overwhelming experience. There will be so much happening around you and it takes a little while to get used to it all.
One of the biggest things that online players need to get accustomed to as soon as possible is the fact you’re actually sitting face to face with your opponents. They get to see you as you look at your cards, count out those calling or betting chips, and react to their bets.
Every action you make at a table could possibly give away some tell – a tiny piece of information that your opponent could use against you. So, hiding those live tells as best as you can becomes a big priority and we’re bringing you a few useful tips on how to go about it.
1. Try to be as relaxed as possible
As already mentioned, the atmosphere in a live poker room can be a bit overwhelming but you can’t let it get to you. If you want to keep your emotions in check and stay in control, you need to get used to your environment as soon as possible.
So, let things sink in before you even sit down to play. Try to clear your head as much as you can and keep in mind that you’re there to play poker first and foremost. Getting in the right frame of mind will help you calm your nerves. That, in turn, will help you avoid many involuntary actions at the tables that could be potential tells.
2. Wear a hat and (maybe) sunglasses
When it comes to physical tells, the less your opponents can see of you, the better. Obviously, you can’t make yourself invisible at the tables but you can take certain measures to take cover in plain sight.
Wearing a baseball hat, for example, can be quite helpful and it’s not uncommon to see at the tables so no one will make anything out of it. If you’re really afraid of giving away tells, you can also go with sunglasses, although these might attract a few strange looks and can make it a bit difficult to correctly see all the cards, suits, and chip colors.
The idea behind these “props” is to hide your eyes and face during important moments. If your opponents don’t have a clear view of it, they’ll have a much harder time picking up any reads. So, if you think you might have a hard time concealing your emotions, it’s better to use these than to lose money.
3. Don’t engage in conversation during hands
More experienced players will often try to get you talking during a hand to try and pick up any tells. If you’re new to live poker, I’d suggest you try avoiding this type of table talk as much as possible. You may think you aren’t giving away anything but a good player can pick up a lot of information even from the color of your voice.
Additionally, you could give away a lot of information by answering their questions even if you’re trying to be clever about it. What you say and what they hear can be two completely different things and until you know exactly what you’re doing, you’re probably best off keeping quiet and letting them make up their mind on their own.
4. Don’t look at your cards until it’s your turn to act
You don’t want the players who are to act before you to have any information about your hand. If you look at your hole cards as soon as you get them, you might give away some small tell that will let them know you have a strong hand or that you’re not interested.
Either way, you’ll be making their lives easier, which is not what you want.
Instead, sit patiently until it’s your turn to act and only look at your cards then. While you might still give away some tells, at least those who have already acted won’t get to benefit from them or at least not as much.
5. Try to maintain the same posture at all times
One of the ways experienced players will get a read on you is by looking at the way you sit and behave during a hand. Are you leaning back in your chair? Are you maybe looking around or staring intently into the pot?
All of these can be tells and you might not even be aware of some of them. So, the best way to avoid them altogether is by having the same posture every time you’re involved in a hand. As long as you sit the same every time, with your body and your hands in the same exact position, you’ll make it very hard for anyone to pick up a read.
So, find a comfortable position and make it a point to always take the same posture whenever you’re involved in any relevant pots. If someone tries to joke about it or get under your skin, just ignore it. They’re just trying to rattle you and pick up some free information.
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