Online Poker Tells Survey, July 2004

“Online Poker Tells”
Research from

Victor Chandler Poker
http://www.vcpoker.com July 2004

Contact: Simon Prodger, Product Marketing Manager Simon.Prodger@vc-bs.com

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Online Poker Tells Survey, July 2004

Introduction A lot has been written about poker tells – the subconscious clues that indicate to other players, the strength or weakness of a player’s hand. But do poker tells exist online? In an earlier issue of our monthly newsletter, Big Slick, we explored some ideas on online poker tells. The article generated some debate among our readers so we decided to conduct a formal survey and see what they really thought. The research was conducted by email and online survey during June 2004. To give perspective, we asked respondents about both offline and online poker tells.

Results Question 1: How often do you play ONLINE poker? Respondents were frequent online poker players with 72% playing between 4-7 times per week. 95% of respondents played online poker at least once per week.
How often do you play ONLINE poker?

80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 4 - 7 times a w eek 1 - 3 times a w eek At least once a fortnight At least once a month Less frequently than this.

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Online Poker Tells Survey, July 2004

Question 2: How often do you play OFFLINE poker? Offline poker playing, for example in a casino card room or a home game with friends, was not as popular with respondents. 22% of respondents never played offline poker. 48% of respondents played offline poker at least once a month.

How often do you play OFFLINE poker?
30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Never 4 - 7 times 1 - 3 times a week a week At least once a fortnight At least once a month Less frequently than this.

Question 3: Which of the following statements best matches your opinion about poker tells OFFLINE?

Which of the following statements best matches your opinion about poker tells OFFLINE?

I just concentrate on my own game If someone does something strange I'll notice I actively look for tells in every player I meet. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%

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Online Poker Tells Survey, July 2004

Looking for tells played a significant part in most players’ strategy with 58% saying that they actively looked for tells in other players when involved in an offline game. A further 28% said they would notice and react if someone did something strange. 14% said they just concentrated on their own game. Question 4: What do you think are the three most common tells in offline poker Players were asked to report their top 3 from 6 recognized poker tells: • • • • • • The eyes – the length of time a player stares at his cards, his willingness to look you in the eye, his eye pupil dilation Facial expression – does a player show a noticeable tic, or obvious unhappiness when a hand is weak, obvious confidence when a hand is strong? Weak is strong, strong is weak – with a strong hand a player tries to look disinterested, with a weak hand a player tries to appear intimidating Anxiety – physical clues such as flexing of muscles, changes in voice, chest expanding Trembling hands – showing nervousness by hands shaking, usually indicating a strong hand. Glancing or playing with chips – Indicating a player is already planning his attack.

The most common of these were ‘weak is strong’, ‘the eyes’ and ‘glancing or playing with chips’.

What do you think are the three most common tells in offline poker?

Trembling hands Anxiety Facial expression Glancing or playing with chips The eyes Weak is strong 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%

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Online Poker Tells Survey, July 2004

Question 5: Thinking about your own poker game offline, what tells do you worry about showing to other players? Players were asked about what clues they were worried about giving out. Facial expression and ‘the eyes’, were the top 2 worries.

What tells do you worry about showing to other players?

Trembling hands Glancing or playing with chips Anxiety Weak is strong The eyes Facial expression 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%

Question 6: Which of the following statements best matches your opinion about poker tells online?

Which of the following statements best matches your opinion about poker tells online?

I just concentrate on my own game I actively look for tells in every player I meet. If someone does something strange I'll notice 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%

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Online Poker Tells Survey, July 2004

In online poker, fewer players actively looked for tells – only 31% against 58% in offline poker. Indeed, 25% just concentrated on their own game against 14% offline. Question 7: What do you think are the three most common tells in online poker? Players were asked to report their top 3 from 5 suggested online poker tells: • • • • • Automatic play – a lazy approach to the auto buttons lets a player slip into a set pattern of play – a break in that pattern is a clear tell Slowness to respond – a pause followed by a check can often indicate weakness, a delay followed by a raise often indicates a strong hand Quickness to respond – a very fast check can often indicate a weak hand, quick bets on the turn or the river can often indicate a strong hand. Chat panel - talk gives clues, silent types often play hard, holding good hands when they raise; chatty, friendly players tend to be looser. Player's names - screen names like 'The Gambler' and 'Mad Dog' tend to be loose and aggressive while players with names such as 'The Rock' tend to be tighter players.

The most common were ‘quickness to respond’, ‘slowness to respond’ and ‘automatic play’.

What do you think are the three most common tells in online poker?

Player's names Chat panel Automatic play Slowness to respond Quickness to respond 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%

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Online Poker Tells Survey, July 2004

Question 8: Thinking about your own poker playing online, what tells do you worry about showing to other players? Players were asked about what clues they were worried about giving out. ‘Quickness to respond’ and ‘automatic play’ were the top 2 worries.

What tells do you worry about showing to other players?

Your screen name Chat panel Slowness to respond Automatic play Quickness to respond 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50%

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Online Poker Tells Survey, July 2004

Our Conclusions • Online poker tells do exist. The most recognized are related to the speed of play – ‘quickness to respond’ – 76%, ‘slowness to respond’ – 73%, and falling into the trap of ‘automatic play’ – 68% scored highly in our research. “Beware, some players are slow to respond when they get a monster hand as they are indecisive how to play it and get the maximum amount from it - don't mistake this delay for having a weak hand. Also, watch each players’ reaction times whether they have good cards or not and note any difference from their norm.” • Online tells such as the chat panel and players’ screen names did not score highly, 29% and 8% respectively. However, one player did report: “I was once playing at a table and one of the other players wrote his hand in the chat screen by accident!” Another that, “anyone called Imgonnabluff will probably never bluff and play only very strong hands!” • One respondent summed up the whole approach to poker psychology, “The good players vary their responses and leave you guessing as to what they really have - online or offline.” • Betting patterns also hold clues, “I think the only real tells on online poker relate to the size and frequency of bets.” • Collecting information was also important, “For me the secret is keeping book on every one I play against. Even if its only a few hands, for me its still important to get an idea of how they play” “The beauty of online play is that you can accumulate all of this information and refer back to it time and again. You simply cannot do this in bricks and mortar poker. Information and form is the secret I think. • And finally, one player had a few sobering words to add,

“not really a tell, but I win most on Friday & Saturday nights, after closing time people are more reckless drunk, obviously.”

You can read more about poker tells at http://www.pokertop10.com/poker_tells.html

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