This article talks about a rare poker strategy calls reverse tells. Many poker players are good at reading tells, so in order to gain an advantage over them, it's a good strategy to understand what a tell is, and in some cases, show your opponent what you want them to see in you.
Playing poker for a living isn’t anything new. However, the times have changed, the game has changed and the way it is played now has changed completely. In order to compete and make a living, you as a poker player have to adjust your thinking and style of play.
Since the 15th of April, 2011 (known as the Black Friday of Poker), the ability to play poker online legally has ended for most United States based poker players. Big names such as Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey and others have been engulfed in scandal and government seizures and much more. Many players have lost thousands of dollars in confiscated funds. Fortunately, some of these players have gotten their money back, and others soon will receive some of their funds. But what does any of this have to do with playing poker today and making money doing it? Well, in short, plenty.
Playing poker online for high reward requires quite a bit of mathematical knowledge and of course knowledge of the rules and theories of poker. Coupled with being able to assume risk/reward of certain actions, and being able to ascertain your opponents standing in a given hand, you mostly took cues from basic human tendencies to try and “read” and opponent.
Now that online poker has widely gone away for the high risk and steady poker players, known as pros, many of them have moved into the offline tournaments and cash tables scattered throughout casinos, card rooms, private groups and home games. These players often bring with them the Internet Player mentality of being aggressive and always putting someone “to the test”. Often, with little to no experience reading physical body language, these players can be at a disadvantage. How do you exploit that disadvantage to put their money in your pocket? That is what we’re going to discuss going forward in this article.
For the purpose of this article, we will mostly be referring to current and standard poker tournament tactics and theories. While playing cash games in poker have the relative similar strategies, there are some differences and nuances that need to be considered to be successful in cash game poker. As we’ve discussed already, playing poker online and offline in person are two different animals. Once an online player has crossed over into the live cash game offline they have some disadvantage to the player who has been playing in the casinos and card rooms already. While usually an online player is fairly aggressive, many live game players are also aggressive. However, some are passive aggressive and will simply call every bet the aggressive player makes then scoops up the win at the end with the better hand.
A rare strategy employed against the online poker players is to exhibit a “tell” (a physical reaction from a player that another player believes indicates strength or weakness in a poker hand) for them to read and react to. This is a strategy I call “Employing a reverse tell” which requires two pieces of the strategy to exist: The player using the strategy fully understands the tell he/she is trying to exhibit and how to not be overt, so that the ploy isn’t obvious. The second piece that is as important as the first is that the mark (the other player you’re trying to win money from) also knows how to read and spot a tell. Sometimes the mark believes he spots a tell, but misinterprets that tell and ultimately beats you because of a mistake in understanding about what the tell actually means.
So how do you become proficient in reading poker tells, understanding how they impact the game of poker and how to use them to your advantage? Well of course reading poker strategy books, watching any one of the free online resources of videos showing poker tells and what they are supposed to mean. You’ll also want to go and find an inexpensive cash poker game such as $1-2 no limit or a limit game and just sit there, play some hands, watch how people react and try some of your gambits at a lower price level until you become proficient. You can also find a nice tournament for a $40-100 buy-in and practice your newfound poker strategy.
So let’s talk about an example of how one of these “reverse tell” strategies would work in a tournament. The scenario is this: You’re about average chip stack; you have an aggressive player in front of you playing lots of pots and generally trying to push people around. His chip stack is about the same as yours (be cautious if their chip stack is much bigger than yours, they may be loose enough to call your bluff, if you are bluffing). So you let that player lead the betting. You find yourself possibly behind in the hand, or at least suspect you both missed a flop. But you want him to bet then you want him to believe you have the best hand. Sometimes a simple check raise will do that here, but you really want to sell your bet or raise. So you might double check your hand or your hand shakes very slightly while counting out your bet or raising chips. You might even start bouncing your heel on the floor, all signs of someone who really likes their hand and is excited to get chips in. Now the trick here is, did your opponent read you as having a strong hand, as you wanted him to? Did he also have a strong hand and felt good enough to call? Was your hand really strong, or were there draws available to your opponent to entice him to call your bet for implied odds later?
As you can see, the strategy of using “reverse tells” can be tricky and in some cases, will get you into trouble. However, once you have become proficient in reading the tells that other players exhibit, and are reasonably comfortable that you’ve identified other players at your table playing conventional poker and reacting to tells, you can certainly exploit that weakness and rake in a big pot. Online players tend to not have as much experience in reading the body language that a live player has, so until they catch up they are at a disadvantage in the live games.
For further research and to get started on your path to this rare strategy, you can follow any of the links below for more information.