There is one KEY PRINCIPLE to keep in mind when deciding if
someone is BLUFFING or has a GREAT HAND…
Here it is:
If a player acts STRONG, he is probably WEAK.
If a player acts WEAK, he is probably STRONG.
It’s simple human nature.
This is NOT an original idea… Mike Caro was the first to
put this amazing insight into words many years ago.
And after I had heard this wisdom, my poker winnings soared
to a NEW LEVEL.
Because every poker TELL boils down to this fundamental
Now, the UNFORTUNATE thing about this advice is that even
though it is SO SIMPLE, most card players just don’t “get
it”, or don’t apply it properly.
So let’s discuss how you can use this concept to spot bluffs
QUICKLY, EASILY, and CONSISTENTLY…
First off, it’s important to remember that in order to spot
BLUFFS, you must be tuned into signs of STRENGTH as well.
For example… if you only look for “tells” that suggest a
player is BLUFFING, you’re only getting half the picture…
When trying to get an accurate read on an opponent, you must
be looking for both signs of strength AND weakness.
Let’s go back to our main “rule” again and look at the first
“If a player acts STRONG, he is probably WEAK.”
This means that when a player does something that makes it
LOOK like he’s got a monster hand, he’s probably bluffing.
The CRUCIAL point to keep in mind is that most players don’t
TRY to act strong. They just do it unconsciously…
I know that sounds strange, but think about it.
Let’s say you’ve got 9d-2s and you decide to make a bold
bluff by going all-in pre-flop (which I don’t recommend, by
Anyway… in your mind, you’re thinking, “Damn I sure hope
no one calls!”… but when someone starts contemplating a
decision, you REALLY start to get worried.
So what do you do?
Well, the NATURAL thing to do… the thing that MOST players
do… is to act like you’re NOT afraid.
Obviously you don’t want someone to know that you’re SCARED
of getting called, right?
So you sit up straight, your hands don’t tremble, your voice
has a little “arrogance” to it…
And ultimately, all of those things are signs that you’re
But you didn’t MEAN to act that way… it just kind of came
naturally. You didn’t think, “Oh, I don’t want him to know
that I’m scared, so I’m going to sit up straight and act
smooth and talk with arrogance.”
It just kind of HAPPENS…
Still with me?
Ultimately, a BLUFF is a LIE.
That’s right… just a plain old lie.
So when someone is bluffing by betting, they’re simply LYING
about what they have in their hand.
Which means technically, the real skill is not the ability
to spot a bluff… it’s the ability to spot a LIE.
But anyway… back to my point…
When the player acts strong, he’s probably weak. But he
didn’t really CHOOSE to act strong… this is just a
“mechanism” inside of him that turns on, simply because he’s
LYING to you about his hand.
Let me show you a few practical examples. Here are THREE
valuable “tells” to look for:
- When a player “flicks” his chips in the middle with extra
OOMPH or tosses them in aggressively…
What’s going on there?
I’ll tell you what:
The player is ACTING strong… which means he probably
doesn’t have a very good hand.
- When a player speaks aggressively and talks a lot…
Once again, this is usually a sign of weakness, since the
player is “covering up” his bad hand by acting like he’s got
BUT… this poker tell is very easy to confuse and get
COMPLETELY WRONG, and here’s why:
There is a major difference between SPEAKING AGGRESSIVELY
and DEMONSTRATING CONFIDENCE.
Here’s what I mean…
If a player talks a lot in a manner that’s NOT normal for
him, it’s usually a sign of WEAKNESS.
The way to sense this is to look for any signs of
DESPERATION with his voice…
But if the player is chatting along, having a good time, and
seems quite CONFIDENT in general, it usually means he has a
It’s a very subtle difference, and takes time to learn.
- When a player looks you dead in the eye…
This usually means the player does not have a strong hand.
The “death stare” is simply an ACT of strength, but what it
really means is WEAKNESS.
Let’s flip this over and look at poker tells that will show
you when a player is sitting on a monster hand…
Because knowing when to FOLD is often times MORE IMPORTANT
than just knowing when someone’s bluffing you.
So, repeating the second part of our mantra:
“If a player acts WEAK, he is probably STRONG.”
ACTING WEAK is usually more subtle than acting strong…
it’s usually demonstrated in a way that is more like
And once again, the player doesn’t usually MEAN to act
weak… it’s simply a NATURAL MECHANISM. Of course,
sometimes a player will INTENTIONALLY ACT WEAK, but the
meaning behind it is still the same:
He’s got a strong hand.
Here are three poker tells when a player is acting WEAK, but
has a really great hand:
- Looking AWAY and acting disinterested… and NOT making
eye contact with you…
This is the opposite of STARING YOU DOWN, which is a sign of
This poker tell is ESPECIALLY apparent when the flop hits…
if the flop REALLY helped a player, he’ll usually just
glance at it for a brief moment and then look away.
(On the other hand, if a player stares at the cards on the
flop for a long period of time, that usually means the flop
did NOT help him.)
- Being very quiet…
When a player is PRAYING to himself that you’re going to
call his bet, he usually stays very quiet and to himself…
If everyone at the table is laughing at something and a
player suddenly gets QUIET… or kind of “forces” his
laugh… then that’s a sign he just picked up a monster
- Getting shaky…
When a player’s hands get very shaky, watch out.
Some people think it’s a sign of BLUFFING, but I sure hope
you’re not one of those people. Shaky hands is almost always
a sign of a MONSTER HAND.
Also… I might add here… that after someone WINS a really
big pot, sometimes they get shaky as an “after effect”.
Honestly, I have no idea why. But I do know that it happens.
So if someone just won a huge pot and is looking kind of
shaky, that’s probably why.
Knowing about poker tells like these… both signs of
WEAKNESS and signs of STRENGTH… is a very important part
of WINNING POKER.