We use body language in our everyday communications but usually we do not pay strict attention to them. Very often we do not notice if someone raises their eyebrows, bites their lips, or snatches their head. However, these seemingly insignificant movements can tell a lot about you when you are playing poker and could cost you money. Your eyes, hand movements, and other body language will give clues to your opponents about the cards you hold. These non-verbal reactions during the play of the game are called "tells". Some common tells are listed below. See if you recognize any of them the next time you play poker.
The Eyes Have It! How many times have you seen the pros on TV wearing sunglasses? Sunglasses hide your eyes and your eyes can tell another player a lot about you. For example, when you look at your hole cards -- many players love to take a long look at premium cards but cast only a short glance at those hole cards when they are going to fold. So don't be surprised if another player is watching to see how you look at those hole cards in order to determine what you have.
The Face (He's looking at you!) Some players wear visors/caps when they play. They not only make it harder to see a player's eyes but they also somewhat hide their facial expressions. A show of unhappiness or disappointment on your face may tell other players you have a weak hand; just as a show of confidence may convey that you have a strong hand. A good poker face I guess would be a non-expressive face but then poker is an emotional game sometimes -- hard to hide emotions.
Trembling hands, muscle twitches, the dilating pupil in your eye, a quickened heart rate, a dry throat, or a trembling voice are all physical reactions that are not under your control. Some of these are very difficult to detect but an advanced player will be watching for them. These reactions usually show nervousness that is common when a player holds a strong hand. So, if you see someone breathing faster than normal or acting as if sitting on pins and needles, they may have a great hand and you can act accordingly. On the other side of the coin, a bluffer sometimes actually holds their breath and holds their body very still.
Body posture (My mother always told me to sit up straight) A change in a player's posture may reveal his attitude about his hand. If a player slumps in his chair (even slightly) he may be holding a weak hand and not feeling confident. Leaning forward is a usual sign of bluffing. On the other hand, if a player sits up very straight and becomes attentive, he may be holding a strong hand.
Be very careful when trying to read facial expressions and postures of other players. Be always concentrated on them because some players like to act confident when bluffing and slump when they have a great hand -- just the opposite of other players. The more advanced the player is, the greater the chance they may disguise their actual reactions and confuse their opponents. Poker is confusing enough -- let's not give them any more information than necessary!