Stereotyping Poker Players Based on Nationality
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2011-11-27, by OzoneIn the quest to gain an edge at the poker table, it can sometimes be helpful to make generalizations about your opponents based on their nationality. Keep in mind that these "nationality reads" are highly generalized. In other words, just because Brazilians might be spazzy in general doesn't mean the one Brazilian sitting at your table isn't a tight-passive nit.
I like to use the stereotypes I have of the tendencies players from certain countries exhibit to help me make up my mind in marginal situations. When all else fails and I'm not sure whether to call or fold, sometimes I'll let the player's country of origin determine my move.
Here are the impressions I have of players based on their nationality. This is by no means the word of God, it's just the image I have after playing thousands of online tournaments over the past few years. Any nations omitted from this list are because there are simply not many online poker players from that country or, in the case of France and Italy, their games are segregated away from the rest of the world.
Anytime I see a player from one of these regions, I tend to grant them a bit of respect. Now that Americans are no longer playing online poker, I would say that Canadians, Germans, and residents of the UK are generally the top overall players. In the case of Canada, several Americans have relocated there further sharkifying what was already a pretty sharp poker playing nation.
I group these two together because I have roughly the same impression of both nations. I generally find these players to be rather spewy but not altogether brain-dead. Players from some countries seem spewy in a hyper-aggressive way. Spaniards and Portuguese seem a bit less prone to hyper-aggression and tend to leak more by not being able to get away from a hand when it's clear that they should.
I lick my lips when I see a player from Russia or the Ukraine at my table with a pile of chips. These players tend to be very aggressive and love raising as many pots as possible. I find them to be generally very exploitable as their aggression is often too much for their own good. There are definitely some Russian players out there that are pretty sharp, but thankfully they are few and far between compared to their spazztastic comrades.
There may be nothing better to me than to be seated at a table full of Brazilians. I think these players have a certain machismo they are trying to live up to or something. They are unrelenting in their aggression to the point of senselessness. I'm much more willing to call a re-raise all-in from a Brazilian than from anyone else because I feel like Brazilians will try to re-steal with really wide ranges. You have to give these players some credit for their willingness to gamble, but overall it's to their detriment.
I generally give players from Sweden, Norway, Finland, or Denmark quite a bit of credit. There are some really solid players from this part of the world. I tend to find that they play pretty intelligently and are tougher to exploit than your average opponent.
Central or Eastern Europe
I don't hold players from the likes of Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, or Greece in too high of a regard. I view them as basically harmless, losing players. I think a lot of the online poker players from this region are probably fairly new, inexperienced players, so you're generally not dealing with too formidable of a foe.
Despite being on opposite ends of the world from one another, I group Mexico and Thailand together because I think there are almost no online poker players that are actually native to these areas. When I see a player from Mexico or Thailand, I automatically assume they are a seasoned grinder who relocated to the region for it's tropical climate (among other niceties). In Mexico, there are a few hundred Americans, myself included, who relocated recently after the U.S. government shutdown online poker. Thailand lures a fair amount of players from parts of Europe or Australia who want to live the good life eating $0.75 Pad Thai and enjoying $10 hour-long massages.
There are quite a few really excellent players from this region, but overall, I wouldn't say I hold them in quite as high of regard as players from Canada, Germany or the UK. There seems to be a bit higher percentage of donks from this area.
Despite the fact that more than one-third of the world lives in China or India, it's a pretty rare thing to see a player from one of these localities at your online poker table. However, when you do, lick your lips because they are almost certain downright awful poker players. I have seen some truly mind-blowingly bad poker playing by people located in China or India. For example, a player from India at my table not too long ago basically refused to fold preflop. No matter how many bets went in, he always called to see the flop no matter what. Players from these countries are beautiful and rare, like a shooting star. You just hope to capitalize as much as possible before they go busto which happens pretty quickly.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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