I’m going to continue talking about betting motion tells in this post. I’m going to talk about a particular player I play with in a $15-30 limit Hold’em game. I think an analysis of his tendencies will be a really good demonstration of how you can take the more generic, basic concepts I talked about in my last post and apply them to a specific player.
Let’s call this player Lee, for future reference. He has a tendency of often throwing his chips into the pot very hard when he bets or raises. It would take the form of him looking like he was angry, upset, disgusted, or some combination thereof and shoving his chips forward in a messy pile. And he wouldn’t always push his chips in like that; sometimes he would do it calmly.
He was more likely to shove his chips forward like that when he was strong. Like a lot of players, he would act angry/emotional when he bet with a good hand. (Like I said in the last post, this could be for a few reasons; he could want to consciously arouse someone’s suspicions/emotions and get them to call, or he could be just an emotional player who feels free to express his general anger/aggression when he’s got the goods. We don’t really need to understand the reasons; it’s enough to recognize the physical behavior.)
But it wasn’t as simple as that. Sometimes he would shove his chips in aggressively when he was weak and bluffing, too. So that got me interested in trying to figure out what was happening with him, and see if I could figure out his secret.
Eventually I came to see that when he was bluffing, he might throw his chips in aggressively, but it would be in a much more cooler, controlled manner than when he was value-betting. For instance, he would sit in a confident, upright posture, and he would keep a cool, confident look on his face. Also, his betting movements would be more controlled; his chips would be pushed forward pretty hard, but it didn’t look haphazard.
Conversely, when he was value-betting, he would throw his chips in with the air of someone who thought he was going to lose (or at least who wants you to think that). His face would look reckless, and his body posture would be all over the place. He would sometimes throw himself backward in his chair, away from the table, after betting, almost like he was trying to look like someone who’d given up on the hand. Also, his chips would be pushed out much more recklessly, almost maniacally.
This shows a pretty important concept when it comes to tells; you usually can’t rely on a single tell to give you good reads. You have to combine several tells and also keep in mind the fundamentals of a player’s betting patterns, level of aggression, betting situation (before or after a bet), emotional state, etc.
You also just have to study a player and correlate their specific mannerisms with their hand strengths over a good amount of time. It definitely helps to have a fundamental knowledge of the general tendencies, but what really pays off is knowing how somebody manifests those tendencies in their own unique way.