I’ve been much more attuned to bet-timing tells lately, just going out of my way to study it more. I think bet-timing tells are responsible for a lot of the more subtle reads of situations that experienced players can get. I also think a lot of the time this stuff can be analyzed in an instinctual way by experienced players. For instance, in the hand I’m going to describe, I think a lot of experienced players would have had a similar read on the situation without necessarily realizing a lot of it had to do with bet-timing tells.
This is from a $2-5 NL game. A good older player (GOP) raised from UTG+1 to $20. He got 3 players behind calling, so the pot is $87. Flop comes 568, rainbow. The GOP bets $65. The player right behind him, a decent kid, calls immediately. The immediate call, which I’ve talked about a lot lately, made me quite certain he was on something like an overpair, or at the very best, A8. If he had a set or a straight, or even something like 78, it’s very unlikely he would call immediately; he would want to think for a couple seconds about the best way to get value from the hand. So I put him on something like 99-QQ.
Another player calls behind, making the pot $282. The turn comes a 3, I think, or maybe a 2. Something inconsequential. The GOP almost immediately bets $200. His immediate bet here makes me quite certain he’s actually got a big overpair at the very least, maybe stronger. He’s definitely a good enough player to be capable of making this bet on the turn as a bluff, but in my opinion he would be very unlikely to bluff the turn immediately; rather, he’d probably take a few seconds to think whether bluffing was the right decision, and/or to think about how the turn card may have changed anything.
It’s also unlikely, though possible, he bets quickly with an overpair as low as JJ or TT or so. He might decide to bet those pairs, but it’s likely he would think for a few seconds before making the bet. The fact that he bet so quickly made me think he had QQ+, at the very least.
The decent kid behind him thinks for a few seconds. With my initial flop read on him for an overpair, I’m thinking it’s quite probable he’s thinking of pushing if he thinks his overpair is good. Considering that he’s thinking here so much, I think it’s quite probable he has JJ or QQ. With 99 or TT I think he gives it up more easily. After about 20 seconds he pushes all-in for another $200 on top of the $200 bet.
The third player folds and the GOP calls. The GOP has KK and the kid has QQ.
If these players had paused a few seconds before acting in both spots; both the kid’s flop call and the GOP’s turn bet, I would not have been nearly as certain about their range as I was. This shows the importance of pausing, however slightly, before making important decisions.
These are the kinds of tells that are rampant in cash games but which you hardly ever see in tournaments, just because tournament players, even bad ones, think much more about every decision. You can still see immediate bets and calls in tournaments; it’s just much less common.