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The Tells of Poker

The Tells of Poker


Poker is a card game where players bet into the middle of the table, which is called the pot. The highest hand wins. The game can be played as a cash or tournament game.

Before betting starts, each player puts in an ante (amount varies by game). Players then receive two cards face-down and one face up. Then they can choose to raise, call or fold. Betting continues clockwise around the table until all players have called or folded and there is a winner.

The rank of standard poker hands is determined by their odds (probability). The best hand is a royal flush: Ace, king, queen, and jack all in the same suit. The second best hand is four of a kind. The third best hand is a straight. The fourth best hand is a full house. The fifth best hand is a pair.

Looking for tells is a big part of the game of poker. However, some people spend too much time searching for unconscious tells and over-estimate their importance. It is better to focus on the bigger picture. Putting players into broad categories that describe their playing style and tendencies will help far more than concentrating on small, unconscious tells.

Study your opponents. Watch how they handle their chips, if they fumble around or are careful with them. Also watch their breathing and expressions when they are putting money into the pot. These are all tells. But remember, you can’t read everyone and everything at once, so don’t try to learn all the tells at once.