Poker tells, as shown in movies, are rather romanticized, conveying the idea that they can tell a player everything about his/her opponent’s hand. This need not always be true, but there are always tells that are very obvious. Here is a list of some of the most transparent tells shown on television.
The fortieth episode of the fourth season of Poker After Dark shows Dee Tiller, an entrepreneur, waiting for his opponent Eli Elezra to make a move. While waiting, Tiller checks his hole cards several times, puts on a disappointed look, shakes his head slightly, and even says “God durn, it’s a hard…” Whenever an opponent acts as if he/she is in great trouble, one should be cautious because they are obviously bluffing. There is no reason players should let their opponents know that they are in trouble.
The PokerStars’ Big Game showed a number of amateurs playing against pros, and David Fishman, who was playing against Phil Hellmuth, did something that should have alerted Hellmuth at once. He sighed as if he is in great trouble, shook his head, and said: “I’m not going to let you do this to me again, Phil.” After behaving in such a manner, Fishman hesitated and then bet all-in. Fishman was obviously bluffing because he has no need to let Hellmuth know that he is in trouble.
Matt Damon, the actor and poker player, was taking part in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2009. He limped into the small blind with a ten and a six and the flop showed a pair of tens and a six. Damon sat back in his chair and his opponent Norman Chad said: “Damon got a jolt from that flop.” Damon then acted least interested and used all his acting skills to make opponents feel that the game is not in his favor. The announcer even said, “A Hollywood star with some pretty bad acting.” His opponents were immediately alerted and Damon couldn’t force any more bets from them.
Another hand from WSOP 2007 showed recreational poker player Beth Shak making another poor attempt to bluff. She got pocket aces and began shrugging as if she was not at all sure what to do. She even said “um” before raising and finally bet all-in while shrugging and saying, “I guess I am all-in.”
Experienced poker players are not as obvious as the above-mentioned, but they do make subtle actions that can alert their opponents.