Targeted poker quiz 10: Tells (beginner)


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. This 39-part series of quizzes, originally published (2004-2006) in Poker Player, is based on the Mike Caro University of Poker library of research and advice. In each entry, Mike Caro presents 10 questions covering a category of poker, targeted for beginner, intermediate, or advanced players. Answers with explanations appear below each quiz, with the questions repeated for easy reference.


The MCU Targeted Poker Quiz series

(See the index to this series)

Tells (level: beginner)

  1. In the art of reading tells, what’s the first thing you should determine?

    (a) The way an opponent is attired;

    (b) How many chips an opponent has;

    (c) Whether an opponent is acting;

    (d) If an opponent playing to win or just to have fun.

  2. An opponent staring at you is more dangerous than an opponent staring away…

    (a) True

    (b) False.

  3. If your opponent bets with a suddenly shaking hand, it’s a sign that…

    (a) Your opponent has made a big hand;

    (b) Your opponent has a medium-strong hand, but is worried;

    (c) Your opponent has probably seldom played poker before;

    (d) Your opponent is bluffing.

  4. The reason average and weak players go out of their way to deceive you is that…

    (a) They realize that they can’t afford to tell the truth about their hands, so they feel they must “lie” or convey misinformation in order to have a chance to win;

    (b) Mostly sociopaths are attracted to poker;

    (c) They’re used to using this type of antisocial behavior in everyday life and don’t realize they’re doing it at poker;

    (d) They lie constantly in their everyday lives and consciously use poker as a training ground for improving their ability to deceive and lie.

  5. When weak and average players attempt to deceive you at poker, they will typically…

    (a) Smile or laugh;

    (b) Be especially unfriendly and hostile;

    (c) Act weak when strong and strong when weak;

    (d) Become very nervous.

  6. Tells are the first thing you should concentrate on when learning poker…

    (a) True;

    (b) False.

  7. Which is a sign that a player may have a weak hand or be bluffing (part 1)?

    (a) The player is talking about things other than poker;

    (b) The player seems sad;

    (c) The player is trembling;

    (d) The player puts slight extra emphasis at the tail-end of a bet.

  8. Which is a sign that a player may have a weak hand or be bluffing (part 2)?

    (a) The player is hardly breathing;

    (b) The player is breathing laboriously;

    (c) The player can’t stop fidgeting;

    (d) The player is yawning and fidgeting at the same time.

  9. Which is a sign that a player may have a strong hand (part 1)…

    (a) A player is staring away from the approaching action;

    (b) A player is staring conspicuously at his cards;

    (c) A player is reaching for his chips prematurely (before it’s his turn to act)

    (d) A player is paying for coffee, using chips from the table.

  10. Which is a sign that a player may have a strong hand (part 2)…

    (a) A player stops tapping fingers as you start to call;

    (b) A player is conspicuously staring at his cards;

    (c) A player sighs as he bets;

    (d) All of the above.


Answers and explanations (with questions repeated for convenience)

Tells (level: beginner)

    1. In the art of reading tells, what’s the first thing you should determine?

      (a) The way an opponent is attired;

      (b) How many chips an opponent has;

      (c) Whether an opponent is acting;

      (d) If an opponent playing to win or just to have fun.

      Answer: (c). Before you do anything else, try to determine if your opponent is acting. If he is, figure out what he’s trying to get you to do and disappoint him.

    2. An opponent staring at you is more dangerous than an opponent staring away…

      (a) True

      (b) False.

      Answer: (b). False. An opponent staring at you is usually less dangerous than one staring away.

    3. If your opponent bets with a suddenly shaking hand, it’s a sign that…

      (a) Your opponent has made a big hand;

      (b) Your opponent has a medium-strong hand, but is worried;

      (c) Your opponent has probably seldom played poker before;

      (d) Your opponent is bluffing.

      Answer: (a). A suddenly shaking hand means your opponent has made something very strong and expects to win.

    4. The reason average and weak players go out of their way to deceive you is that…

      (a) They realize that they can’t afford to tell the truth about their hands, so they feel they must “lie” or convey misinformation in order to have a chance to win;

      (b) Mostly sociopaths are attracted to poker;

      (c) They’re used to using this type of antisocial behavior in everyday life and don’t realize they’re doing it at poker;

      (d) They lie constantly in their everyday lives and consciously use poker as a training ground for improving their ability to deceive and lie.

      Answer: (a). Average players go out of their way to deceive you, because they realize they must convey misinformation about their hands in order to win.

    5. When weak and average players attempt to deceive you at poker, they will typically…

      (a) Smile or laugh;

      (b) Be especially unfriendly and hostile;

      (c) Act weak when strong and strong when weak;

      (d) Become very nervous.

      Answer: (c). Weak and average players will act weak when strong and strong when weak.

    6. Tells are the first thing you should concentrate on when learning poker…

      (a) True;

      (b) False.

      Answer: (b). False. You should not concentrate on tells when you’re learning poker. Master the fundamentals first.

    7. Which is a sign that a player may have a weak hand or be bluffing (part 1)?

      (a) The player is talking about things other than poker;

      (b) The player seems sad;

      (c) The player is trembling;

      (d) The player puts slight extra emphasis at the tail-end of a bet.

      Answer: (d). When a player puts slight extra emphasis at the tail-end of a bet, he’s likely to be weak or bluffing.

    8. Which is a sign that a player may have a weak hand or be bluffing (part 2)?

      (a) The player is hardly breathing;

      (b) The player is breathing laboriously;

      (c) The player can’t stop fidgeting;

      (d) The player is yawning and fidgeting at the same time.

      Answer: (a). Players who are bluffing often breathe inconspicuously or not at all.

    9. Which is a sign that a player may have a strong hand (part 1)…

      (a) A player is staring away from the approaching action;

      (b) A player is staring conspicuously at his cards;

      (c) A player is reaching for his chips prematurely (before it’s his turn to act)

      (d) A player is paying for coffee, using chips from the table.

      Answer: (a). Players staring away from the approaching action usually hold strong hands.

    10. Which is a sign that a player may have a strong hand (part 2)…

      (a) A player stops tapping fingers as you start to call;

      (b) A player is conspicuously staring at his cards;

      (c) A player sighs as he bets;

      (d) All of the above.

      Answer: (c). Players who sigh when betting almost always hold strong hands.


    Next MCU Targeted Poker Quiz in this series

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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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  1. Hi Mike, In the answer to question 4. Should it say “they must convey” i think you forgot a “y”

    1. Hi, Greg —

      Thanks for pointing this out. I fixed it (changing “the must convey” to “they must convey.”

      Welcome to our Poker1 family.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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