Chance Kornuth’s 3 Favorite TOP SECRET Live Tells

When I first started playing cards, before I began to study the theory of the game, I watched Rounders


I watched Teddy KGB eat that Oreo every time he had a monster. Ever since then, I’ve been mesmerized by live tells.


I grew up playing random card games with my family for quarters, knowing approximately zero poker theory. When this is the case, you face a lot of bets when you don’t know what to do. I’d try to look at my uncles and guess whether they had a good hand. 


Even once I became a professional, I was still obsessed with tells. While some players were trying to master their poker theory, I was looking back at my atrocious hero calls thinking to myself, “I should have known he was strong because of the way he intentionally pursed his lips.”


Fast forward to today, I am a considerably better poker player, but I am still gripped by my fascination with live tells. Over the years, I’ve picked up many tells that I use to my advantage and today, I’m going to give away a few of my best ones…

Let’s dive into 3 of my favorite tells!


*Disclaimer: You need to establish a good baseline for your opponents before using these tells! These tells are accurate when it comes to the general population but some players will do the opposite or even try to give off false tells.


Looking Early

Since the quick, subtle movements of the eyes are so hard to control, people’s eyes are extremely telling. 


When inexperienced players look at their cards early, they give away a massive amount of information


If you are paying attention, some will just telegraph that they are folding by holding their cards in a folding motion. These days, it’s not typically that obvious. It’s a bit more subtle.


Say they are on social media, watching a sport on TV, or even conversing with someone at the table. When they look early and immediately go back to what they were doing before, they are typically disinterested in their preflop holding


If you notice a player does this, then another time they do the opposite and start following the action, it’s a telltale sign that they have something worth playing.


Chips Chosen

Subconsciously when a player is strong, they choose a nice round number using primarily their high denomination chips, that doesn’t look like a big bet.


They are hoping that you call!


Visually it looks like less than it is, and it’s easy to call 4,000, you just grab four chips and toss them in.


The opposite would be grabbing 3.8k as it’s much more intimidating looking and at a glance, appears to be a larger wager than 4,000.


They are trying to deceive you with a bet that looks bigger than it is, hoping that you fold.


Overall, this is a tell that needs to be baselined more than most, but it’s still a great spot to see if we can recognize any patterns



Distancing is a really simple tell that can occur when a player looks at their cards or the community cards.


The weak version is when players don’t like what they see and slightly lean away. 


Joe Navarro uses the example of a dirty diaper. When you visualize this, it nails it. When holding a disgusting dirty diaper, you aren’t leaning in. You are literally, distancing yourself from it.


Obviously, this is more extreme than what you will see at the table, but I think it helps to understand the concept.


The strong version doesn’t happen as frequently, but it’s just the opposite. When you are interested or attracted to something, you are more likely to lean in.


This tell is very subtle but can be very useful if you can pick up on it.


Wrapping it up

There you have it, 3 of my most profitable tells. Try picking up on these next time that you’re at the table and let me know how they work out for you!



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