False Tells, Min Raises, and Overbets

If there are three things that you’ll see over and over
again in live poker, they are false tells, min raises, and
overbets. These three moves seem to be favorites of live
players. You might wonder why anyone would make these plays that
are so obviously bad, but you would also be answering your own
question. To a bad player, making bad plays just seems correct.
Picking apart these plays isn’t the most difficult thing in the
world, but you’ll still need to know what you are doing.

It’s not all that challenging to confuse yourself when trying to
decipher what a certain play means from a weak player. Beyond
this, you might even find these actions in a good player as they
do indeed have their benefits as well. We are going to take a
closer look at each one of these plays and moves in an effort to
analyze what they tend to mean.

False Tells

False tells have a surprisingly high success rate. Have you
ever seen a guy bemoan his luck audibly, shake his head, and
then proceed to either bet or raise? Odds are that you have, and
the odds are also that this terribly unlucky player happened to
have a big hand. To amateur players, wearing your emotions on
your sleeve is one of the most incredibly genius things that
could ever be done. After all, how could they NOT call your bet
once you’ve made it obvious that you have a bad hand?

False tells are usually straightforward because they tend to
mean the same thing over and over again. You aren’t likely to
run into a whole lot of skilled players who are trying to use
reverse false tells in order to trick you into making a mistake.
Now, while as much is true for the obvious acting jobs as were
alluded to above, it’s not always the case.

A skilled player is much more apt to implement subtle reverse
tells than they are to use obvious ones. Speaking out loud about how unlucky you are is obvious, but
talking nervously is not. If you think you know what someone is
looking for, it will be much easier to let them see what they
need to in order for them to do what you would like. For
example, if a player follows traditional live poker tells, they
would likely think that an authoritative bet with a loud voice
would mean a bluff. Most poker strategy says that the more
someone acts like they are strong, the weaker they are. Because
of this, an aware player might act overly strong when they are
actually holding a good hand. Often times there will be nothing
you can do about this until it’s too late, but this is something
worth keeping your eye out for.

Min Raises

Min raises are one of the premier hall marks of a bad player,
both in online and live poker. The min raise is one of the most
ineffective plays regardless of how its used. Yea, it might work
from time to time, but this also depends on how you define
"work." If a player min raises and gets a call that they wanted,
it certainly doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have potentially
made a lot more money by placing a larger bet. By contrast, if a
player min raises because they are bluffing and want a fold,
they might think that they lost the least when they get called.
The truth, however, is that their odds of success were likely much higher if they had made a
bigger raise. Before understanding how to pick apart min raises
from other players, you should have a complete understanding of
why they are almost always a bad play.

In the case of a min raise, going with your gut feeling is
usually the best play. It’s very rare in poker strategy that
going with “feeling” is one of the most advisable things that
you can do, but I believe it to be true here. There will be
plenty of situations where you just know that your opponent has
it. The fact that it is only a small raise is exactly the reason
the other player made it in the first place. If a min raise is
made and there’s theoretically no way you can fold, chances are
that you should fold. Now, if a player min raises in a pot where
they are likely to be holding either a huge hand or nothing at
all, calling becomes a much better option. Min raises are going
to mean that the raiser has a big hand and wants to get paid off
way more often than not, but if the price is right and the play
doesn’t make sense, calling shouldn’t be counted out of the


Overbets are best defined as a coin flip and a bet that is very situation
dependent. A well placed bluff could be executed in the form of
an overbet, but a big value bet could easily be an overbet as
well. With min raises, you are almost always going to be up
against a big hand, but with overbets, you’ll frequently be
left confused.

How you read into an overbet will depend largely on which
street it happens. An overbet in pre-flop play is most likely to
be a moderately strong hand, because it’s the go-to move for many
players when they have hands like JJ and AK. Players use the
pre-flop overbet for a few reasons. First, it will allow a
player to see where they stand. Second, it will create an
opportunity to take down the pot pre-flop. Third, it will build
a big pot for post-flop play. While these reasons often times
aren’t justifiable, they are usually the driving force behind a
pre-flop overbet.

In post-flop play, overbets carry a variety of different
meanings. A bluff is still going to be discounted a fair amount,
but they are hardly rare. Players who back themselves into a
corner will often times use a turn or river overbet as a last
ditch attempt to win the pot. They figure that they haven’t been
able to force you out yet, so making a big, intimidating bet is
the only way to go. The trouble with this is that players with
monster hands will also make the same play. This could be due to
the fact that they either don’t know how to play post-flop or
simply because they think the other player in the hand is prone
to calling.

The best advice with post-flop overbets in live
games is to put the story together. Has the player demonstrated
a capability to run big bluffs in previous hands? Has the player
always had it when they bet? These are the types of things that
you should be thinking about. An overbet will tend to be for
value more than anything else, but there’s certainly plenty of
times where it will be a bluff as well. So long as you are
carefully considering all of the likely possibilities, you
should show profitability in the long run when facing post-flop
overbets in live games. Calling an overbet will be very nerve
racking, but few feelings beat the rush when you make a call and
are right.