Targeted poker quiz 23: Tells (intermediate)


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: intermediate)

  1. When you spot a tell, you should…

    (a) Make the opponent aware that he is being scrutinized, hoping he’ll have more respect for your game in the future;

    (b) Act immediate in accordance with it;

    (c) Wait before acting;

    (d) Tease the opponent about the tell in a friendly way, so he’ll know what it is, but won’t feel that you’re being too critical.

  2. If an opponent inhales from a cigarette and bets, it’s more likely a bluff if…

    (a) He doesn’t exhale noticeably;

    (b) He decides to quit smoking right then and there;

    (c) His cigarette is unfiltered;

    (d) You see a huge cloud of smoke exhaled.

  3. In a three-way pot, if a woman throws chips in your direction, but the bettor on the previous round was the third player…

    (a) She wants a call;

    (b) She’s almost always trying for a flush;

    (c) She’s most likely forgotten that the third player is involved in the pot;

    (d) It’s more likely than usual that she’s weak or bluffing.

  4. Mike Caro calls the sad “tsk” sound heard when poker players put their tongues against the roof of their mouths, apply pressure, and release pressure…

    (a)  The power puppy;

    (b) The suck of poker;

    (c) Pokerclack;

    (d) Smack attack.

  5. When you hear the sound described in the previous question, you should usually fold medium-strong hands.

    (a) True;

    (b) False.

  6. Tells can account for more than half your profit at 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, but seems incoherent;

    (b) The player is wearing a striped shirt;

    (c) The player’s friend is watching over his shoulder;

    (d) The player is humming a tune.

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

    (a) The player is breathing loudly;

    (b) The player is telling a joke in a natural-sounding way;

    (c) The player is playing with his chips;

    (d) The player was tapping his fingers, but stopped when you reached toward your chips to possibly call

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

    (a) The player doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to the opponents who must decide to act first;

    (b) The player is glaring at you;

    (c) The player is conspicuously following the action;

    (d) The player is reaching for chips prematurely.

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

    (a) The player is staring at you as you begin to bet, but smiling;

    (b) The player sighs as you begin to bet;

    (c) The player looks back at his cards before you can bet;

    (d) All of the above.


Answers and explanations (with questions repeated for convenience)

Tells (level: intermediate)

  1. When you spot a tell, you should…

    (a) Make the opponent aware that he is being scrutinized, hoping he’ll have more respect for your game in the future;

    (b) Act immediate in accordance with it;

    (c) Wait before acting;

    (d) Tease the opponent about the tell in a friendly way, so he’ll know what it is, but won’t feel that you’re being too critical.

    Answer: (c). When you spot a tell, you should wait a little before acting. That way opponents are less likely to associate their actions with your call. Therefore, they may repeat the tell and you’ll be able to profit from it again.

  2. If an opponent inhales from a cigarette and bets, it’s more likely a bluff if…

    (a) He doesn’t exhale noticeably;

    (b) He decides to quit smoking right then and there;

    (c) His cigarette is unfiltered;

    (d) You see a huge cloud of smoke exhaled.

    Answer: (a). If an opponent inhales from a cigarette and bets, it’s more likely to be a bluff if he doesn’t exhale noticeably.

  3. In a three-way pot, if a woman throws chips in your direction, but the bettor on the previous round was the third player…

    (a) She wants a call;

    (b) She’s almost always trying for a flush;

    (c) She’s most likely forgotten that the third player is involved in the pot;

    (d) It’s more likely than usual that she’s weak or bluffing.

    Answer: (d). Whenever someone deliberately bets in the direction of one opponent who seems less threatening than another opponent, there’s a higher than usual chance that the bet indicates a weak hand or a bluff.

  4. Mike Caro calls the sad “tsk” sound heard when poker players put their tongues against the roof of their mouths, apply pressure, and release pressure…

    (a)  The power puppy;

    (b) The suck of poker;

    (c) Pokerclack;

    (d) Smack attack.

    Answer: (c). Pokerclack is the name Mike Caro has given the sad “tsk” sound heard when a poker player puts his tongue against the roof of his mouth, applies pressure, and releases that pressure.

  5. When you hear the sound described in the previous question, you should usually fold medium-strong hands.

    (a) True;

    (b) False.

    Answer: (a). It’s true that when you hear pokerclack, you should usually fold medium-strong hands.

  6. Tells can account for more than half your profit at poker.

    (a) True;

    (b) False.

    Answer: (a). It’s true that tells can account for more than half your profit at poker. The exact percentage depends on how much you’d make at poker without using tells and the extent of your tell-reading skills. Conceivably, adding tell-reading skills to a break-even players could account for 100 percent of profit thereafter. In likely situations, in otherwise semi-tough games, some skillful tell-readers probably do use that talent to account for more than half their profit.

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

    (a) The player is talking, but seems incoherent;

    (b) The player is wearing a striped shirt;

    (c) The player’s friend is watching over his shoulder;

    (d) The player is humming a tune.

    Answer: (a). If a bettor is talking, but seems incoherent, that’s often an indication of a weak hand or a bluff.

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

    (a) The player is breathing loudly;

    (b) The player is telling a joke in a natural-sounding way;

    (c) The player is playing with his chips;

    (d) The player was tapping his fingers, but stopped when you reached toward your chips to possibly call.

    Answer: (d). If the bettor was tapping his fingers, but stopped when you reached toward your chips to possibly call, that’s often an indication of a weak hand or a bluff.

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

    (a) The player doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to the opponents who must decide to act first;

    (b) The player is glaring at you;

    (c) The player is conspicuously following the action;

    (d) The player is reaching for chips prematurely.

    Answer: (a). If a player doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to the opponents who must decide to act first, that’s often an indication of a strong hand.

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

    (a) The player is staring at you as you begin to bet, but smiling;

    (b) The player sighs as you begin to bet;

    (c) The player looks back at his cards before you can bet;

    (d) All of the above.

    Answer: (b). If an opponent sighs as you begin to bet, that’s usually an indication that he holds a strong hand.


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.

4 thoughts on “Targeted poker quiz 23: Tells (intermediate)”

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  1. Mike,

    You published the the answer to question #10 in the first AND second part. You may wish to omit this from the first set of questions, in case you missed it. Thanks for all the advice!!!!!!!

    1. Thanks, Rene. This has been fixed and your report has been credited in the change log (linked to from home page).

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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