There are many tells you can gain on your opponents even before you see them play a pot. How they stack their chips can give you some clues on how they are going to play. If you notice their chips are neatly stacked, and organized, you can probably assume they will be conservative. Now if you see someone else who has their chips everywhere, with no organization whatsoever, he will probably be playing wild or loose.
Initial Buy-In Stack
One other thing to pick up on, especially with the conservative player, is to notice if he has two separate stacks. Many times, these type of players will stack their winnings off to the side or in front so they can easily tell how much they are up on the game. If you can determine this, they will be less likely to call a bet which would put them in the negative for the game, unless they have a very strong hand.
Chip Stack and Seat Selection
Of course the size of a player’s chip stack is important to notice – especially for table and seat selection.
If you are just joining a new table and have a choice of seats, but do not know anything about the players, you want to sit behind the money. You want to sit at this person’s left so you will have position on them throughout the game. This increases your chance to win a big pot off of them if you hit right. Also, even though a big stack doesn’t always mean a good player, you want to have position on this player if he does turn out to be good. “When in doubt, sit behind the money.”
Stacking the Chips
If you ever notice a player winning a large pot, and perhaps may still be stacking their chips from it, they will not play the hand unless they have good cards. This is for a few different reasons. First off, they are happy they just won a pot so they do not feel the need to have to play the next hand without good cards. Also, they are focusing on stacking their chips, so they again don’t want to get involved unless they have to. If you see someone win a big pot and get involved the very next hand while still stacking their chips, you can be pretty sure they have a strong hand.