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5 Common Tells to Spot a Bluff

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Hero calling and being right is one of the greatest feelings in poker. That’s why everyone hero calls too much. To avoid calling too much, we need call only when we observe common tells to spot a bluff.

Your opponents do not bluff enough. If you fold constantly to their postflop raises and river bets, you’ll be fine.

However, as you move up in stakes, you’re going to run into more experienced players. These players are more likely to try a bluff.

How do you spot their bluffs?

Here’s five common tells to spot a bluff in poker:

They Freak Out And Jam

You don’t have to look for bluffs. Fundamentals will take you a long way.

However, if you do want to spot a bluff, look for a player freaking out. This is one of the most common tells to spot a bluff.

Many people decide to bluff impulsively. They’re worried about the play not working, so they rush to get their nerve up. This causes them to suddenly put their chips in.

If your opponent has been taking five or ten seconds all day and now they’ve suddenly moved all-in on you, be suspicious. If they had the nuts, would they really suddenly shove on you? Some people do that, but this player has been taking their time all day.

Often, this is a player who thinks they have to bluff but is intimidated by the play. They’re forcing themselves to put their chips in before they chicken out.

There’s Multiple Missed Draws

People usually don’t get deep in a poker hand with nothing. They’ll fold their high cards by the flop or turn. If they get to the river, they either have a value hand or a draw.

If the draws miss, now their hand has been reduced to nothing. Now, they feel invested and there’s no way to win without bluffing.

If there is only one missed draw, that isn’t much to go off of. If there’s several missed draws, that gives your opponent more hands to bluff with. This is another one of the common tells to spot a bluff.

I once successfully called a river all-in with King high at the series. I’ve never done that before or since, but a ton of draws missed on the river. The opponent moved all-in suddenly. When I talked to him, he gave off another tell…

The Most Common Tell To Spot A Bluff: They’re Nervous And Rigid

Pay attention to every hand you play live.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. There’s TVs on. Your phone is super tempting to look at. The game moves slowly.

Look. I get it. I struggle with paying attention too. I always have to tell myself the same thing when I play:

“Listen. This is your job, right? You’re going to miss details. It’s inevitable. But at least give yourself a chance to see something. Physically turn and watch the action on every deal. Keep your phone in your pocket. Keep your headphones off. See how comfortable someone is with a hand.”

Why should we see how comfortable someone is when they flop a huge hand? Because many people are relaxed when they flop a huge hand. They believe they’re going to win a big pot or a bigger pot. There’s nothing to worry about.

If you find this person is suddenly rigid and breathing awkwardly, that tells you something. That’s not how they behaved with a great hand. This is one of the most common tells to spot a bluff.

I don’t know why North American players do this, but they’ll talk to you on rivers. They’ll give off how jacked up they are.

Don’t talk to them about the hand. They’re prepared for that.

I’ve actually had good success through asking, “how’s your day going?”

Goofy comments that come out of nowhere can also get forced laughter and talking. “Love that jacket.”

When you’re on the river facing a big bet, take your time. You’re allowed to take a few seconds when you’re playing for this many chips.

They’re Tilted

This one should be obvious, but it’s worth repeating.

Tilted players bluff more. They’re done with being embarrassed. They’re sick of losing and they’re going to do something to change their fortunes. This is another one of the most common tells to spot a bluff.

I actually had a guy at the series get 200 big blinds in versus me with one pair. How did I know he was ready to go off?

He practically told the whole table he was pissed off about his series. He was visibly agitated when he sat down. He complained. He was picking at his skin and glaring.

When you hear people groaning and complaining about never hitting their hands, watch out for the following hands.

When someone starts arguing with someone at the table and getting visibly pissed off, pay special attention to their next hands. I’ve seen guys get into arguments at the table and then blow off $10,000 in five hands!

They Have A History Of Bluffing

Most of your opponents don’t bluff enough. They will only do it when they miss a boatload of draws and get tilted. You can use physical tells to try and figure out when they’re pissed and jamming for the hell of it.

The exception to these players are the practiced tacticians who bluff strategically.

If you see a player constantly triple barrelling, you should be suspicious. If you ever see them get caught in a large bluff, then you’ll know they’re capable of bluffing in large pots.

Pay attention to the board and situation they bluffed in. Many players have their favorite situations to bluff. For example, some players will see you call on a board with flush draws and straight draws, and they’ll assume you would have raised with sets and two pairs. Because your range is capped at one pair, they’ll decide to put pressure on you.


Remember, your opponents don’t bluff enough. They’re largely afraid to use larger bets for leverage. If someone raises you on the turn or river, feel free to believe them. If someone triple barrels you, don’t hand your chips away easily. Don’t get entitled over what you believe your hand should be worth. See reality on reality’s terms.

However, if any of the five preceding bullet points line up, you can start considering a hero call. Just remember to proceed with caution.

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Alex Fitzgerald

Master Poker Coach | Low-to-mid-stakes | WPT & EPT final tablist | $3.5M cashes | Best Selling Author

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