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How to Read People in Video Poker: 12 Tips and Common Poker Tells

Understanding how to read people is a crucial skill in video poker. It goes beyond the cards; it’s about deciphering your opponents’ hidden cues and using that knowledge to make informed decisions. In this high-stakes game, where every move matters, the ability to interpret subtle tells can set you apart. This post delves into the art of reading people, offering 12 practical tips and shedding light on common poker tells. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, these insights can help refine your strategy and enhance your understanding of this complex game.

1. Understanding the Basics

In the context of video poker, reading people involves interpreting their behavior, patterns, and subtle cues to anticipate their next move. It’s a skill that requires keen observation and psychological insight. Understanding your opponents is not just about predicting their strategies; it’s about adapting your playstyle to maintain the upper hand. Every gesture, facial expression, and pattern of betting can reveal a story—your job is to decode it. Mastering this aspect of the game can significantly improve your odds, making your gameplay not just a matter of luck, but a strategic art.

2. Observe Body Language

Observing body language is paramount in video poker. Your opponent’s facial expressions, posture, and even the slightest of hand movements can be incredibly telling. A confident player might sit back relaxedly, while one who is bluffing might display subtle signs of nervousness, like tapping their feet or avoiding eye contact. Learning to interpret these cues can give you a significant advantage. For instance, an opponent suddenly sitting upright or closely guarding their cards might indicate a strong hand. Paying attention to these details, while keeping your interpretations flexible, can be a game-changer when playing one of the most popular live dealer games.

3. Pay Attention to Betting Patterns

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Betting patterns are like open books, revealing insights into your opponents’ hands. A player consistently betting high might be on a streak of good hands, or they might be trying to bluff their way through. Conversely, a player betting cautiously might be guarding a weak hand or luring others into a trap with a strong hand waiting to be revealed. Understanding these patterns requires attention and experience. Observing changes in a player’s betting behavior—like a sudden increase in their bet size—can be indicative of a shift in their confidence level or hand strength.

4. Analyze Reaction Time

The speed at which opponents make their decisions can be very telling. A player who bets hastily might be overly confident or attempting to bluff, projecting strength. On the other hand, someone taking their time might be calculating odds, trying to read other players, or masking a strong hand. However, be wary of over-interpretation; some players deliberately vary their reaction times to confuse opponents. It’s important to consider the context and look for patterns over several hands to accurately gauge what a player’s reaction time reveals about their strategy.

5. Study Their Eyes

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and this holds in video poker. Players often unknowingly reveal their emotions and intentions through their eye movements. For instance, a glance at their chips after viewing their cards might indicate a strong hand. Conversely, avoidance of eye contact or excessive blinking might suggest discomfort or uncertainty about their hand. However, experienced players might use their gaze to mislead opponents, so it’s crucial to correlate this with other tells and patterns you observe.

6. Listen to Verbal Cues

What players say and how they say it can provide valuable clues. Overconfidence in a player’s tone might be a bluff, while hesitancy might suggest a weaker hand. Some players might even unconsciously reveal information about their hand, talking more when they are confident or going silent when they are concentrating on a complex hand. Paying close attention to these verbal cues, and combining this information with other observations, can give you a fuller picture of your opponents’ strategies.

7. Assess Table Image

Your table image, and that of your opponents, is a pivotal element in video poker. Some players cultivate a certain image—like being aggressive or cautious—and then switch strategies to throw others off. Observing how others perceive you and adapting your strategy accordingly can be a powerful tactic. For example, if you’ve been playing conservatively and suddenly make a big bet, opponents might think twice before calling, assuming you have a strong hand.

8. Look for Consistency

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Consistency in behavior and betting patterns can be a reliable indicator of a player’s strategy. However, deviations from these patterns are often where the most telling insights lie. A player who suddenly changes their behavior or betting pattern might be reacting to a strong or weak hand. The key is to establish a baseline of their usual behavior and then look for anomalies. These deviations, once spotted, can provide crucial insights into their current state and potential hand strength.

9. Observe Their Chips

The way players handle their chips can offer insights into their confidence and experience level. Confident players might stack their chips meticulously, while anxious players might fiddle with their chips or count them repeatedly. Additionally, the size of a player’s bet in relation to their chip stack can be indicative of their strategy and confidence level. A large bet from a small stack might be a sign of desperation or a bluff, while a small bet from a large stack might be an attempt to draw other players in.

10. Consider the Situation

The game’s context can significantly influence players’ behavior. Different phases of the game can reveal different tells. For instance, a player who bets aggressively during the early stages might be trying to establish a dominant table image. In contrast, the same behavior in the late stages might indicate a strong hand or a desperate bluff. Understanding how the situation affects behavior can help you make more informed decisions and anticipate your opponents’ moves.

11. Stay Mindful of Your Own Tells

While you’re busy reading your opponents, remember that they might be reading you too. Common tells include showing nervousness, overly celebrating good hands, or sighing in disappointment. Being aware of your own behavior and potentially mixing up your playstyle can prevent others from getting a read on you. Consistency in your reaction times, keeping your facial expressions neutral, and being mindful of your body language can help mask your intentions.

12. Common Poker Tells

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Some common poker tells include a player checking their cards frequently, which might indicate a strong hand, or heavy breathing, which might suggest anxiety or excitement. Another tell is players acting overly confident or indifferent; often, the opposite of what they project is true. Learning to spot and interpret these tells, while remaining aware of the possibility of deception, can provide a significant advantage.


Reading people in video poker is a blend of art and science. It involves keen observation, psychological insight, and the ability to connect seemingly unrelated dots. The tips provided here offer a starting point, but the real mastery comes from practice and experience. Remember, while tells can offer valuable insights, they are just one piece of the complex puzzle that is video poker. Stay observant, stay adaptive, and let your newfound skills guide you to make more informed decisions at the table. Happy playing!

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