There are two main types of tell that we may use in Pokerstars VR: online tells and live tells. Let's explore how this blend of online and live poker affects the most important tells.
Online Tells1. The Fast Check (And Other Timing Tells)
The fast check has historically been a sign of weakness. Someone who checks without pondering whether they should bet might just be procedurally checking to the raiser, but in other spots where this is not the case, the timing exhibits a lack of required decision-making. If there is nothing to decide upon, there is generally very little equity to protect, value to be got, or interest in the pot. We have attacked players who check quickly, stealing pots from them for over a decade of online poker. Interestingly, in the realm of Pokerstars VR, the instant check might be more camouflaged. The virtual reality world creates a feeling of being watched. This makes us paranoid and careful not to give too much away. We might find players slow their timing down to remain more consistent in light of feeling more self-conscious about what they give away. Could the classic online timing tells actually become less reliable in this game where opponents are naturally more on their guard?
2. Betting Patterns
The heart and soul of developing reads in online poker. Villain bets small with the nuts and larger with bluffs – what a gold mine. Pokerstars VR should have very little affect on betting patterns and these tells should continue to be reliable and accessible, but also pay attention to how your opponent makes his bets. More on this now.
Live Tells1. Hand Movements
In Pokerstars VR, the player manually moves their hands to select chips and then again to toss them onto the virtual felt. The hands are a very automated and subconsciously controlled part of the body. The way that they move is often completely instinctive – this is a healthy evolutionary trait for humans since we are often required to make fast and precise hand movements without thinking about it. The upshot for Pokerstars VR players is that online opponents who are not used to disguising the free information conveyed by their hand movements are likely to exhibit tells where certain speeds and types of hand motion, both when reaching for chips, and putting them in the middle, are likely to give away patterns of information about hand strength. Look out for the impulsive jerk towards the stack (a sign of strength) and the quick snap of the bluffing hand as it tries to get in and out of the pot as quickly as possible, like a burglar breaking into a house in the dead of night.
2. Double Checking Hole Cards
Your VR hologram physically has to look at its cards in order for you to see what they are. Again, online players may not be accustomed to this and might be inclined to forget what they have without the luxury of their hand being visible at all times. This is especially obvious when the flop comes down monotone (all the same suit). Someone with a flush is generally aware of it already, but identifying a flush draw is something that almost always requires a second glance at the cards.
Double checking holes cards is especially likely to be a sign of weakness when the motion is slow or sluggish, especially if the player is facing a bet or a raise. The only forgettable hole cards are ones that have not connected in a meaningful way. On the other hand, an opponent who quickly glances at their hole cards as soon as the flop comes down or quickly glances a second time pre-flop right after the first look is much more likely to be holding a powerful hand. The impulse here is to verify the strength of the hand before making an investment.
3. Level of Attentiveness
Is your VR opponent watching you, looking at the pot, looking at his chip stack, or are his head and arms in a relaxed disengaged configuration? In Pokerstars VR you will really be able to tell. Information such as bet amounts, and pot size will only appear after looking at the relevant area of the table for one second. This means that sly glances out of the corner of your eye are not viable ways of hiding your intentions.
Perhaps your opponent is clearly talking to someone around him in the real world or chatting online. As Pokerstars VR is still a game played on a computer, we should find that our opponents slip into an online poker mode almost without thinking, in which they neglect to hide their body language. Glancing around the table before you act and getting a feel for who looks interested in the hand will be a valuable skill. Perhaps 86o is normally outside of your Cut-Off opening range, but the BU is on his phone, the SB is gabbing away and the BB is slouched and staring into space. This may well be a highly profitable steal after all.