Poker tell: Her pot now; needs to stack it


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1996) in Card Player magazine.

Rediscovered and added to Poker1 in 2014.


Think about what happens after you win a big pot All those chips and all that cash scattered in front of you, right? And what do you want to do? If you’re like most players, you want to stack those chips and put that cash into a neat little bundle.

Well, it takes time to stack chips and put cash into a neat bundle. Having to play another poker hand at this moment would be distracting, so you’d probably be less likely than usual to enter a pot with a weak hand or to run a bluff from scratch.

Understanding unstacked chips

In today’s picture, we’ll focus on the woman wearing the hat From Mike Caro’s Book of Tells -The Body Language of Poker:

Description: There is a great deal of chips scattered in front of the woman. That’s not because she isn’t organized. It’s because she just won a giant pot and hasn’t had time to stack it.

Motivation: Won last pot.

Discussion: Most players like to stack their chips before they get involved in another pot. This doesn’t mean they won’t play strong hands. A player even may toss in a few chips on medium-strength hands as a courtesy while sorting through the last pot. However, there’s one thing players will almost never do in this situation, and that’s run a bluff from scratch. True, they may end up bluffing, but when they enter pots, it’s almost always because their hands merit it.

Best Strategy: If this woman plays a hand while she’s still stacking a giant pot, give her credit for having at least medium power. Don’t invest money on the hope that she entered the pot bluffing.  — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

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