Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stereotypes and poker - Part 1 of a 116 part series on "Better Know a Poker Player"*

I know that I, personally, am guilty of making judgements based on race, accent, or style.  I believe that stereotypes do exist in poker, and I hold that they're all correct until proven otherwise.  It's negative EV if you close your eyes and imagine your opponent as looking like vanilla ice cream instead of what and who he truly is, whether he be chocolate, green tea or rum punch.

Since this is my blog, and I can write what I want to without fear of reprisal or being called racist (people can still call me that, I guess), elitist, etc., I'm going to keep a running log right here & now intending to catalog the various stereotypes dancing through my head.  This is going to be a multi-part series.  I think it is important to note that yes, this is a bit biased, but away from the table, I honestly believe that I treat all people the same regardless of color or creed.  The only thing that prejudging does at the table is help me get a leg up on my opponents initially.

Let's start with the Asians first, because they're easy to pick on:

The Craisian Asian
The typical crazy Asian is the gambol gambol gamble type.  He loves to throw good money after bad - even if it's clear that he's beat - in order to suckout for the euphoria of the win.  He's typically middle- to late- aged, skinny, scraggly beard... you know the type - perhaps a long hair coming out of his mole?  This guy will play literally any two cards - they're SOOORRRTED (suited) or they're CORRRREEEECCTING (connecting).  QJ and JT is the nuts PF.  They are action junkies to the extreme.  They take the culture to heart, believing in rucky (lucky) numbers, thereby playing J4o as a limp / call.  They love calling gutters, so beware when that weird 3 straight turns like 6 8 K -> turned 9.  I'd imagine most of them are simply degenerate gamblers who are constantly losing money; they're in it for the thrill.
The verdict: These are bread-and-butter payoff players.  You'll feast on them, but strap in because it can sometimes be a bumpy ride when they do hit their improbably gutters on the river.  Make sure you value bet the shit outta them!

The young, Asian internet- type
Proceed with caution!  Usually, they know what they're doing.  Donning a hoodie pulled low to cover their foreheads, they're aware of their table image, and like to feed off the impression of their elder brethren.  However, they are not Craisian.  They are generally smart, know how to fold, and know how to represent.  Their bluff stories usually make sense and their value bets are just as well-thought out; sized appropriately for the hand they perceive you to hold.  They also understand odds, so size your bets appropriately for this kind of player.  You're not going to get a ton of value out of them.  Generally avoid pots with them when possible.
The verdict: As I said above, keep clear of these guys.  They know what they're doing, and if their iso-ing you, raise an eyebrow and question whether they view you as the fish at the table.

The black, thug-types; i.e. gold caps, goatee, low hanging pants, etc.
Somewhat intimidating at first glance, these players are generally nice people, looking for a night of entertainment.  Give them the entertainment they're looking for; talk it up with them.  Buy them a drink!  They've played at home games and fancy themselves knowledgeable players, but at their cores, they're loose / passive.  They play level one poker, much like the Craisian Asians, however, they're not nearly as aggressive and loose.  Their value bets when they do nut on you are usually uncharacteristically small in comparison to the pot - they tend to miss a lot of value from their big hands in that regard.  I believe they value bet small because of the rampant fear among the loose passive community that they're going to lose the fish on the hook.
The verdict: Bread-and-butter players.  They will pay you off every time without fail and begrudge their "bad luck."  However, when these guys are doing the betting, make sure that you have a hand.  Don't spaz out when they bet small and you think you can come over the top of them.  They're pretty certain to have a premium hand.

To be continued...

* Credit to Steven Colbert and the Colbert Report's 434 part series, "Better Know a District" series.  If you haven't seen any of the episodes, click over to his website and watch.  It's very clever - Eleanor Holmes Norton is my favorite interview.


  1. Interesting start. Don't know that I agree completely so far, but kudos for attempting to sort them all out. And yes -- I do buy into poker stereotypes, but would maybe use a different descriptor like "culturally based poker types."

  2. Thanks for commenting. I was really on the fence about doing something like this series... I was debating as to whether to be politically correct or not, and figured I'd just write and see where it takes me. I think a lot of the stereotypes are similar even though the way the person looks on the outside is dissimilar. For example, I'll talk about the country boy - his play is almost identical to the black, thug type...

    Whatever - glad at least one person is not insulted.

  3. Not insulted at all -- keep 'em coming.

  4. Dont worry fellas, the grump old guy is coming up :-). Perhaps either of you can do a guest post :-)? MOJO - did you get my email?

  5. nah -- I am the nice, old guy that everyone hates to see lose. : o )

  6. This is definitely not politically correct. Not a problem for me at all. But I suppose you may get some heat for it.

    The thing with this instant stereotype reads you make....you have to be careful and make sure you don't get married to your first instinct. A lot of times I've made reads based on this kind of stereotyping and been in for a rude awakening. You need to be able to pivot fast when your judgement-based-on-appearance proves to be misleading.

  7. I know it's not politically correct. I think that the line gets crossed when you begin to treat people a certain way - permanently - because of their ethnicity. The above described may be "prejudice" or "prejudged," instead of racist.

    Honestly, I don't care about your likeness or socioeconomic background; simply bring money to the table & I'll try to win it from you.

    1. Kudos for this post. FWIW, I'm a young internet Asian... and I don't appreciate you spilling our secret disassociation from the Craisians at all! This makes me wonder if I'll get more action adopting an accent and putting on stage makeup to look older... hmmmm....

      On a more serious note, poker is, in the long run, all about statistics. I will absolutely use correlation between culture/race/whatever and skill level. I highly doubt any serious poker player would find it morally wrong anyhow; it's a game where we try to take each others' money, and it's not like you're angle shooting someone.

    2. I figured I'd hit up the easiest stereotypes first... Black guys are a pretty easy target, unfortunately. In the poker world, though, Asians - particularly the older Asian guys - are also fairly predictable. The young guys don't seem married to their "lucky" numbers; they're more technical and understanding, whereas the older guys see a lucky hand and must play at all costs.

      Thanks for the link love on your site, FWIW. I hadn't realized that you're in MD. Where in MD are you located?

    3. Not too far from you, apparently. I'm in Silver Spring. Not sure when the next time I go to ctown will be (have a baby on the way, bachelor party to plan, not many free weekends), but one of these days we should definitely meet up in ctown.

    4. Well, my Asian brother-of-another-mother :-), email me (ThePokerMeisterTPM gmail com) and we can coordinate.

      Looking forward to hearing from you!


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