A reliable Poker Tell

When playing live there are some tells that are nearly always reliable. Most have to have a pattern established before categorizing them as reliable, but there are some very reliable tells that remain amazingly consistent. The most reliable live tell I've

A reliable Poker TellOpen raising late in multi-table poker tournaments
One of the biggest leaks I see a lot of tournament players doing is open raising too much late in a tournament, when most of their raises are obvious "steal" raises. Especially in an online tournament, where the blinds and antes will be a large portion of your stack, you need to be smart about raising to steal blinds. You of course don't have a choice in your raise size if you're short stacked, because you only have one move. If, however, you have 20 big blinds or more, you should be finding the MINIMUM raise size necessary to make blind steals, and raise that amount whether you have a hand, or you're stealing from the cutoff with J7o. At a lot of online tournaments, this raise size can be as small as 2.25-2.75x the big blind (sometimes even doubling the blind will get the job done). I personally like to raise 2.5x the big blind nearly always, EVEN when antes have kicked in. Why? Because it works. I risk a very small amount of chips, and if I'm first in the pot, I'll be taking down the blinds a large portion of the time. If I'm called, I still have a hand, or I may even steal it on the flop. A lot of people tend to think that if you raise more, then you'll discourage action. Really, the size of the raise isn't as important as the ACTION itself. If you raise, a person behind you is unlikely to call, or raise, unless they really have a hand. If your opponent has AK, and will likely push in, they're going to do it whether you raise 2.5x the big blind, or 6x the big blind. Again, it's not the amount, but the ACTION. The point though is to maintain constant aggression, while risking the smallest amount possible. If you are raising 3, 4 or even 5 times the big blind with a hand like KT, and then someone pushes all-in over the top of you, you'll have to fold (unless you have odds to call of course), then you've risked a much larger amount, where the 2.5x raise would have accomplished the same thing. I see this constantly though late in a tournament (at various different stakes), even today as a matter of fact. With only ~25 people left in an online MTT (which I won btw :) ), a guy raised 5x the BB from the button. The guy in the BB pushed all-in, and he folded. What a waste of chips. All of these raises, and wasted chips add up over time. So the smarter you are about your raise sizes late, the more chips you'll have to bust people and win some multi-table tournaments! Good luck!

Open raising late in multi-table poker tournamentsBlocking bets in poker
What is a blocking Bet? For those of you unfamiliar with the term "blocking bet", it's a bet designed to get you to a cheaper showdown on the river when you are first to act (or out of position). If you have a somewhat marginal hand, and aren't sure of where you stand, you can place a somewhat smaller bet out there in hopes that your opponent will just call instead of raise. The typical size of a blocking bet is anywhere from 1/4 of the pot to 1/3 of the pot on the river. This is made with the assumption that your opponent will likely bet 1/2 the pot or more on the river if you check to him. This play typically works against most small stakes opponents, and if you haven't practiced making this play, you should look to incorporate it from time to time. A common example is when you hold top pair, but the board is somewhat scary - with possible two pair hands out there or straight/flushes. Most opponents won't bluff in those situations fearing that you may hold the better hand, so unless they actually have a strong hand they won't raise and then you can safely fold. If your opponent bluffs a lot however, then your better option may be to check and just call. Most opponents won't fall into this category. How do you combat the blocking bet? Now you know what a blocking bet is, what do you do if you suspect someone is making a blocking bet against you on a scary board when you hold a hand such as two pair or better? If your opponent checked, you would have bet more than the 1/3 pot bet they just placed in front of you, but if you raise you open the door for a re-raise. That's exactly why the blocking bet is so effective. Yet we'll be more clever then that. Instead we'll mini-raise the river in these situations as to get good value on our hands. NOW if our opponent doesn't have a REALLY strong hand they will NOT re-raise you on the river. If you are raised in this spot, then you can be nearly 100% certain you are beat. This accomplishes the same thing however if they just checked, you bet 1/2 to 2/3 of the pot and they check-raised you, you'd then just fold. Yet by not falling for the blocking bet, you are maximizing your value and not giving your opponent a cheap showdown. Let's look at a common example of when you'd mini-raise the river. You hold QdTd in the CO. A player in MP (middle position) limps, and you decide to limp and the blinds come along. The flop comes: Th7cQc Everyone checks to you and you bet the full size of the pot. The SB folds, the BB calls and the player in MP folds. The turn now comes: 8h The BB checks to you and you bet 1/2 the pot. The BB calls. The river now comes: Ah The BB now bets 1/3 of the pot. Could he have slow played a big hand? Sure, he could have a set, or 9cTc. Yet there are a lot of other hands he could have here and his bet is likely designed to get him to show his cards cheap. He could have a Queen. An Ace high club flush draw and now hit an ace, a ten with a flush draw. Q7, T7, etc... That's the beauty of the mini-raise in this spot. You get more value out of your hand (about what you wanted to get) AND you don't leave yourself completely out in the wind (meaning you can fold to a re-raise). Just make sure when you make this play that your opponent isn't too short stacked that commit you to the pot regardless. But look on adding these concepts to your game.

Blocking bets in poker