How to play texas-hold-em poker against other nationalities

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Ok, when playing online, surprisingly certain nationalities play a certain way, and if you know this, it can help you play a much better poker game. Doesn’t matter whether you are playing at full-tilt, party poker, pokerstars.net, etc — these types of players almost always seem to play this way. And no — for “politically correct” people (and insert politically correct disclaimer here — no offense, but if you don’t like it, don’t read it and say go to disney.com) — it isn’t “stereotyping” — they actually do tend to play this way. So take and use this knowledge.

Germans:

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In my experience, Germans playing poker seem to be the most unbelieving group of people. No matter what you bet, no matter how good a hand you have, they almost always will call you right to the very end if they hit one card, no matter how crappy it may be. In all examples I’m assuming you raised pre-flop. So here is how to play them, and here is what to watch for:

[a] Calling — If you bet on the flop, and a german calls — chances are he paired up on the board, or is chasing a draw (i.e., flush draw/straight draw — they seem to especially love gutshots, etc). If the turn card is not a danger card (i.e., no way to complete a straight/flush, board doesn’t pair up, etc) — and the german checks before you — put him all-in. Almost always he will fold his crap hand.

[b] Calling to the river. If you bet, german calls, you bet again, german calls — and then you bet on the river and a german puts you all-in, you should probably fold if you don’t have anything better than a pair. Chances are he has either made two pair on the river, or had some bull crap hand on the flop (i.e., hit K2).

[c] Make super tiny bets on the flop if you are only playing against germans. This is really really quite funny. I once tried this as an experiment, and have observed that it almost always works. If you are only playing against germans — beautiful. I was once playing (I think it was) a 3-6 game, so preflop we had already gotten something like $150 into the pot. Flop game, I think I had absolutely nothing. So I made a “$3″ bet. The two germans after me dropped like flies, and I won the pot. Totally shocked, I thought I’d try it again, but this time raising on crap. The next hand, I think I might have had 8-2, but just for kicks, raised it to $30. Two germans again called me. I had absolutely nothing (actually I think it was even something like A K 9). I bet “$3″. The two guys folded again. I thought this was hilarious. So again, next hand whatever it was I raised say to $50. I think I had one guy call me. This time I think I actually did hit mid-pair. But again, I made a super ultra tiny bet (this time I think it was $9 though — just so they wouldn’t think I was doing $3 every time). To my shock and amazement, if I recall correctly, the guy thought about it for 15 seconds, then folded. Truly amazing. So germans seem to work in reverse — if you bet BIG — they don’t believe you. If you bet SMALL — they think you are trying to trap them and will fold.

Anyways, this is almost always how Germans will play. I don’t think there are any ‘tight’ german players, or ‘loose’ german players, there is just the “German” way of playing poker, and almost all of them play the same. So if you notice a player is from germany, keep this in mind.

North Americans (i.e., Canada/the U.S.)

Ok, this is from Canada/the US. When playing at tables with these players, you should be able to automatically spot the ‘good’ players. They are the players who raise preflop in ‘exact’ amounts (i.e., “exactly” 3x the previous bet when they have good cards, etc), or bet “exactly” 2/3 pot size (some poker sites recommend that, etc). They play very ‘mechanical’ poker — they are the guys that have read all the poker articles, calculate odds (and sadly even some cheat with poker stats software). If you notice a player like this — don’t bother trying to outsmart him — because then it really does just become a gamble, and basically who has bigger balls. (He is probably bluffing, but if you bet he’ll put you all-in just to see what you have, and then he’ll watch you fold and he’ll enjoy the bigger pot he just made). So if you notice “good” north american players, only play against them when you have ‘good’ cards. Everyone else pretty much plays incredibly loose and usualy pretty carelessly. If you have top pair (with high kicker) or better (i.e., two pairs, etc) — you can almost always milk the pot and clean up nicely.

But basically watch how they play, and watch for totally ‘complete’ hands (i.e., where you get to see the river and everyone’s cards). If he was calling on crap — you have a good loose player that you can win from.

Asians/Southeast Asia/etc

Ok, for whatever reason — Asians, especially Chinese, seem to be incredibly lucky when it comes to playing poker, and will play incredibly (what you would consider) “stupid” hands, and win. I was at this one table and watched this Chinese girl sit down, bet $10, get into a ridiculous pre-flop back and forth betting match, and she either flopped, or rivered, a full house (AAKKK), and I think the other guy had a straight or AQ, and had gone all-in with her I believe on the flop. Other asians have played low flushes (i.e., 2-5 hearts) and won in hands that I’ve been in — and NOT been scared of big betting (i.e., would call an all-in to the river on a 2-5 flush). So be careful!

So rule of thumb — if you are playing against them and they will just not fold — make sure you have a rock-solid hand.

Anyways, I hope this helps, enjoy!

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