Reducing Your Own Tells

Phil Laak

In order to reduce your own tells, you need to focus on remaining consistent in all the actions you make at the table.

Every decision and its associated action is being watched and reviewed by the other players on the table. The way you act, both intentionally and unintentionally, can be a clue that gives away everything you mean to keep hidden.

Where you look, what you say, how you breathe, how you move, who and what you react to and many other seemingly minor factors can give you away.

It's next to impossible to become a true statue, and not react in any way to situations favorable or anxiety-inducing. The best you can do is try to keep all your actions and reactions consistent, no matter how you feel about the event.

• Every time you read a flop, it should take you approximately the same amount of time.

• When you look at your hole cards, memorize what they are. You never want to have to look back at your hand during play.

• Some players feel they need to wear glasses and a hat to the poker table to hide themselves from being observed. If you feel that way, go right ahead. You should know, though, that dressing like this at a low-stakes game will have people making fun of you.

If it's what you need to do to win, who cares if they make fun of you. Their japes will cease once you have their money.

• Amateurs will make the mistake of broadcasting their hand with their raise amounts. When raising, you should either standardize it and always raise the same amount, or, if you don't want to have a standard raise, find some way to randomize your raise amounts.

If you always raise 4x the big blind with AA but 3x with A-K, players will catch on to that.

Make a choice of how much to raise, why and when. Then stick to it. One of the simplest ways to keep the raise amounts more random is the system taught by Phil Gordon.

He tells players to base their raises on their position. For example, raise 3x the BB from under the gun, while raising 5x on the button, with 4x being middle position.

• A general rule of thumb is to keep your mouth shut. If you're in a hand, the more you talk the more information you're going to give away. Some players are talkers (Negreanu and Gold, for example). A good talker can angle his way to winning a big pot, whereas a bad talker will give away exactly what he has in his hand.

Jamie Gold, for example, gives away far too much information when he talks. World-class players pick up on and exploit this information.

If you're not good enough to know how strong the other players are, or if you're not good enough to not be obvious, then don't talk. You have the right to remain silent; use it.


The less tells you can give away at a poker table the better off you are. The last thing you want is another player knowing when you're bluffing and when you have the hand. If you can keep them guessing as to what you have and when you have it, you're going to be better off as a result.

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