Tony Dunst, as by now you’re probably aware, has played poker against people from every corner of the globe and the wily professional has agreed to share his opinion about an array of nationalities he has come face to face with at the felt. We like to call this segment, the Poker World According to Tony Dunst.
After reading this, we would love to know if you agree with Tony’s opinions.
Poker has been around in the UK for decades, entering mainstream popularity around the same time as in the US. As a result, players from the UK are some of the best in the world, both old
and young players often being highly experienced. The game is also massively popular online in the UK, as access isn’t restricted like it is in the US. UK players are often well educated and understand both the mathematical and psychological elements of the game.
It’s hard to pinpoint American poker players’ traits and mannerisms due to their vast participant numbers. The game has its origins in the US which has allowed players ample time to develop a variety of playing styles. It’s usually safe to assume that a lot of young American players are professionals as, due to financial constraints, most other young people don’t have the money to enter a high stakes poker tournament, particularly after the crippling effect Black Friday and the subsequent Great Recession had on poker and the greater economy.
Canadians might be the best per capita poker players in the world, the Great White North producing a ton of the current top players. Canadian players didn’t have the unenviable experience of enduring Black Friday in 2011, allowing them to stay current in online poker.
On the table, they’re typically calm and level headed, handling the swings of the game well and with consummate ease. The game has been around in Canada for a long time which has given players a lot of time to learn their craft.
Although gambling and card games have long been prevalent in China, despite being illegal, poker is fairly new on the scene. Chinese are notoriously superstitious gamblers and have an unrivalled enthusiasm for poker. Some Chinese play poker like it is a table game, often reacting emotionally, causing them to make erratic plays. Other Chinese are more analytical and focus on
the mathematical elements of the game. It’s a safe assumption that most Chinese players will be inexperienced compared to their European or North American counterparts and at times will take some inexplicable risks.
Koreans and Japanese
It’s a sin to conflate the two on most matters, but Koreans and Japanese share some poker parallels. Both countries have tough restrictions on gambling… there’s never been a poker tournament in Japan and Koreans can’t play in tournaments being held in Korea. The game, similar to China, is fairly new in both countries, yet they produce some of the best video game players in the world. Many of them realised there was more money to be made and transferred their obsessive work ethic towards the online version of the card game. In my limited experience playing them, I’ve found Koreans and Japanese to be tough and thoughtful players, far less erratic and superstitious than their Chinese counterparts.
The game, for Italians, Spanish, and Greeks, is somewhat new and, while players hailing from these countries are extremely passionate, that very same passion can get them into trouble, especially when their emotions get the best of them. It’s more common to see these players driven by ego and braggadocio, often taking losing a hand personally and going on a personal vendetta against the opponent who bettered them. They are not weak and conservative players, sometimes making foolish wagers to show they’re not afraid to lose. My playing experience in this part of the world is fairly limited (once in Barcelona and once on a cruise in the region) but my friends, who travel there more regularly, tell me that the tournaments populated by players from this region are typically softer than the tournaments in Northern Europe, bringing me to the hardened Scandinavians.
For a period, Scandinavians were clearly ahead of the curve and still produce many good poker players. The most glaring consistency about these players is their cold, calculating demeanour and lack of ego. It’s rare to see Scandinavian players express real emotion at the table, or become upset when they lose. The cold, desolate weather in their countries also promotes long winters spent inside at the computer, practising their online poker. My friends who’ve played the live tournaments in Nordic countries tell me they’re the toughest they’ve encountered the world over.
Poker has been around in France for decades, but has only exploded in popularity lately, just after the US boom. Casual French players play loose and more emotional than their Northern Europe counterparts. The tournaments I’ve played in France have been very soft as the country has a healthy proportion of affluent players unafraid – and who can afford – to lose. On a random aside, floor men at French casinos and tournaments are notorious for giving favourable rulings to French
players when in a questionable situation with a foreigner.
German culture places a high priority on work ethic, which is evinced by the strengths of their young players. A troupe of young Germans is arguably the best pack of tournament players on the globe right now, bankrolling each other and many of the other top professionals who play in high stakes tournaments. They’re stoic on the table and typically handle losing and disappointment with grace. Like France, Germany is affluent enough to not be crippled financially by losing here and there. But Germans are much less prone to taking reckless, pride-fuelled risks than many other nationalities. Admittedly, I’m never happy when a German player joins the table.
Russians have gained momentum on the poker scene in recent years and, for a time, some of the largest games in the world were being played there. The country is well known for its chess prominence, the analytical nature of many chess players translating to the felt. However, plenty of reckless Russian players do exist, loads with a bundle at their disposal. Typically I assume that younger Russians will be very tough, but I’m am less concerned about
the older ones unless they embody the serious, intense nature of a chess player. They seem more prone to tilting than their Northern American counterparts, but less so than people from the Mediterranean.
Do you agree with Tony’s evaluations and, if not, which assertions would you change? We’d love to hear your comments.