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Online player behaviours you should pay attention to

March 21, 2024
by PokerStars Learn

Timing tells

Every player on PokerStars is given a set amount of time to decide what they’re going to do before their time bank begins to tick. How long they use each time might come down to the hand and difficulty of their decision, but it could also be a trait of the player.

While most players try to maintain a consistent betting speed, other players’ speed will fluctuate massively. In some spots, they’re betting instantly, in others they’re taking an age.

You should definitely pay close attention to this and as soon as you’re given some potentially useful information, you can make a note of it. Did the player bet instantly on all three streets and then turn up with a bluff at the showdown? Note it down. Did they take forever and then four-bet with what you later see is pocket aces? Note it down.

There are other common timing tells to look out for, too. Here are a couple of examples.

If an out-of-position player takes a long time to check to you on the flop (the pre-flop aggressor) it’s often a sign of a weak hand. The player is trying to make you think they’re strong and considering whether to bet or set a trap when they simply want you to check behind so they can see a free turn.

When players check instantly on the turn or river after calling your bets, it’s often a sign that they’re not too strong and are hoping to get to showdown. If they had improved, there’s a good chance they’d at least take a moment to consider betting themselves.

We have to point out that these are just generalities and won’t be true every time!

Odd Open Sizes

In today’s game, the standard open size in multi-table tournaments is between 2 and 2.5 big blinds. So if you encounter an opponent who is regularly chucking out unusual opens, keep a close eye.

What hands are they turning up with when opening to 4.6 big blinds in early position? Chances are they’re strong, but they could also just be wild. These are the players you either love or hate to see at your table!

So 4.6 big blinds is an extreme example. But fluctuating bet sizes are something you’ll see regularly and it’s only through experience and making notes that you can begin to crack the codes behind them.

A larger open from one player might mean strength, while from another it could mean weak. Likewise, 2x opens might mean they have a monster and want action, but it could also mean the player is trying to take down the blinds and antes as cheaply as possible.

Things you can exploit

There are lots of player behaviours that you can begin to exploit when playing tournaments.

Players who limp every hand, for example. Sure, now and then they’re going to limp-raise with a monster, but for the most part, these are inexperienced players who just want to see flops, and therefore, you can isolate them or force them to fold.

Then there are players who raise every hand. When you’ve got the goods, punish them!

Pay attention to the players who are tanking consistently around the bubble period too. This is a telltale sign that cashing the tournament is very important to them and they’re not going to give you much action until the bubble has burst.

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