It is easy to work out what type of poker player your opponent is when you are playing in a face to face situation, this is because you can read their body language, or "tells". You can look at their eye contact, listen to their tone of voice and the content of their conversations, and look at their posture when you are trying to measure your opponents as worthy contenders or not.
But what do you do when you are playing online, and these bodily "tells" are not perceivable? You cannot speak with each other, under normal poker site rules, although you can use chat, but players rarely use this feature when playing online poker, and when they do use the chat facilities they are very bad at conveying emotions, and players will be trying to hide these anyway.
Well, there are ways to determine how a player will proceed, even when you are playing online. You should take into consideration the speed it takes a player to perform a particular move, such as checking, wagering, raising...
Speed is a fairly good indicator, but if you are playing against an opponent who is playing more than one table at a time, then it becomes useless because you have no way of measuring how long they have taken to play their turn on your particular table.
If you know that a player is only playing on your table (I know this is never a certainty, but if you are pretty sure), then you can make some very sound and informed decisions from the speed at which they play each turn. Here are a few rules to help you to read your online opponents better.
If a "check" has been preceded by a long pause, then they probably have a week hand.
Players will frequently use the rule that if they spend a long-time before checking then they can trick you into thinking that they have a strong hand, their aim is to get you to check too so that they can get a free card. However, if the other players hand was truly as strong as they are playing it, they would have checked more quickly because they would not have to think as tactically. In short, a long pause before a check is often a sign of reverse-psychology; they want to appear strong but are weak.
A bet that has been preceded by a long pause usually indicates a good hand.
This is a similar tactic to the one mentioned above, in that it is a piece of reverse psychology. Taking a long time to place a bet can indicate uncertainty, but because most people are aware of this, purposefully appearing to take your time can make it look like you are uncertain, when in fact you actually have a good hand.
Betting immediately usually indicates a strong hand.
When a person bets very quickly, especially at the turn and the river, then this would normally indicate a strong hand. The aim here is to intimidate fellow opponents into calling; it is quite an aggressive form of poker play. When you are faced with such a player, take into consideration their position around the table, who are they following? A player who is late to raise either has a really good hand, or is trying to intimidate other players.
When a player is quick to check this indicates a weak hand.
A lot of players will be quick to check when they are planning to fold. Occasionally, this can be used to your advantage. If you are located in the last playing position around the table and everyone before you is quick to check, you should take it as given that the players have weak hands and then try and orchestrate a bluff against the player who is positioned first.
Watch out for the old check-raise.
When players check and then raise, be on your guard for a possible bluff, they may be trying to get you to bet by giving you the false belief that they have a weak hand, when in fact they have a good hand.
As well as looking out for these signs in other players, remember to disguise them when you are playing yourself, try to be consistent in the speed at which you play, or play a variety of tactics so that your game does not appear predictable. And good luck!!!