Been meaning to write this post for a while, but only just found the time to do so.

I've played a couple of hands recently which have really given me food for thought around live tells, particularly around the things people say. Thought I'd share them with you guys.

Both are live cash games, playing for around 20 buy ins. In both hands, the villain had shoved one me, and in both hands I made the wrong decision but could probably have made the right one if I'd have listened more.

Hand #1:

I was up against a decent LAG player. I had AQ and was the preflop aggressor but out of position. The flop came ATT and I bet out. the villain calls. The turn is a 9, and I check (mostly for pot control, as I was not sure if he had a ten). Villain checks, but says "Hmm, I wonder why you checked there." The river is a blank. I decide to make a good sized bet. The villain shoves on me.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. I'd seen him make this move a couple of times earlier in the game and he had a decent hand (2-pair, a set), but I know him well and I'm aware he can make this move with nothing. So I'm in a bind. I ask him "What have you got?", hoping to get a tell or two. He says "I have a hand. This is not an outright bluff." After some hesitation, I decide to fold and he flips over AJ. I would have had him beat.

Hand #2:

I'm playing with a friend who's just pushed another player into a fold. "I had AK", he says, and no one believes him. The next hand is dealt, and he immediately starts "I can't belive it! AK again!" I know this guy has a mouth, and he likes to chat away, but I also know he's often lying and trying to mess with you. I have 88. He bets and I call in position. Everyone else folds.

The flop is QJx. He bets, and again I call. He's still chatting about how his AK still has outs. The turn is a blank, and he checks. I bet, and he calls. "I've still got outs!" he says. I still don't believe he really has AK. I've seen him run huge bluffs with junk, and I'm pretty sure he's doing it right now. The river is a T. "OMG!" he says. "I told you I had outs!" He shoves for about half my stack.

Again, I'm unsure. If he has AK, then he's definitely got me. However, my 88 is not a bad bluff catcher. Not a great one, but good enough to catch him out if he's got complete air. He's chatting away. "I know you don't believe me. I said I have AK, and so you're now in trouble. Then again, I could be bullshitting you right now. I could have nothing. You're going to have to call me to find out." I think for a while, decide that he's putting on an act, and call. He has AK after all.

What's interesting about these hands is that in both cases the tells were there. If I look back at hand #1, the guy was trying to tell me he was strong, and wanted to emphasise that he wasn't bluffing. In other words, he wanted a fold. And I obliged. In hand #2, the villain was trying to emphasise the possibility that he was bluffing. He wanted a call. And again I obliged.

If I'd have listened more closely, I could probably have picked up on these and made a better decision. I'm going to pay more attention to these tells in the future.