Saturday, May 14, 2005

For Aksu: Popular Music from the Cold Country: A Play in Three Parts

YTD: +$55131.00

Part I

Our Cold Country* friend enters the cardroom for the first time. He is supremely confident in his abilities, having played 420 million hands of poker already. He has won and lost and won and lost, ad nauseum, hundreds of thousands of dollars. And he has only just turned seventeen.

Hands on his hips, cocksure, the crowds part around him. Mostly this is because he is six foot five and rather “chunky”. But mostly because, despite this overwhelming stature, our friend looks a lot like a girl.

He strides towards the green baize arena.

Part II

Plunking down mixed piles of stacks of Euros and Dollars, Mr Cold Country asks his soon-to-be-busted-foes, in his perfect, polite, pristine English:

“What game are we playing please?”

“Knock Out Whist”, replies the blue-rinse and pearls elderly lady, nervously pushing back her pince-nez and casting worried glances at her friends at the table. None of them is under seventy.

Our friend leans back in his chair with a grin.

Surely this “Knock Out Whist” is exactly and identically the same as short handed limit holdem, the game he has devoted his life to since a boy. EVERY game, in essence, he has found to be the same as short-handed limit holdem.

“I raise”, he says, pushing forward a stack of greenbacks.

Part III

“You garbage, you play such junk, u mf, I bust u , lol, lmao, u f**ker, I show u, RiverStars again, u broke, llllllloooooollllll”


*Cold Country is an amalgam of Scandinavia and the Nordics


Of course this play is based on an unfair stereotype. In general, Nordic and Scandinavian players are the best in the world, especially in the limit holdem, big stakes games. However. Sometimes stereotypes are useful. And if you are playing a game that ISN’T short-handed limit holdem, especially when it’s not holdem at all, then sometimes treating the best players in the world as guilty until proven innocent can be very profitable.

I raise.


Anonymous said...

From Peter B

Harsh, but fair. But did our hero win or lose at this new-fangled game?

I think that I played Erik 123 on a 50c-$1 table some time in early 2000. I was suspicious of the Swedes from the start. Where IS that warehouse in Linkoping that they all play in?

They quickly descended on the low-stakes Ladbrokes games and destroyed them, and the same appears to have happened to the £1-£2 tables on Betfair. I guess that I should be equally mercenary and do the same when such opportunities appear. Betfair from October to January was like picking apples off a tree (although not at the same time of year). But you only need a few players like Tueart (fom Manchester, not Sweden), playing four tables for what seemed like 10 hours a day and the fish soon get fed up. He was a meraly average player (in fact, downright poor post flop), but I reckon he was winning between six and eight quid an hour at each table, making a grand a week. OK, so the whole party only lasts four months. Then he moves on and looks for something else. A bloody depressing way to make a living, though.

Aksu said...

Reminds me of time when I tried to learn O8 =) Exept part III: I hope I was not that obvious when tilting. I don't think that scandies are more abusive than others anyway, maybe even less.

There are couple of stereotypes I use myself too. One for limitHE is this, keep US players on your left and europlayers on your right.

Aksu - desperately trying to grow a beard to hide a probable girlish look

Big Dave D said...


Did the hero win??? What do you think based on the last chapter.

There is a worse way to make a living. SitNGo's. SimonG once told me thaqt was going to be his route to market and I commented, along the lines of I would rather give myself a boiling water colonic.



Big Dave D said...


Hope you enjoyed it! I think it was more me in the Omaha 8 than u :(

As to the stereoptype being too unfair in Part III, I have two words for you:


Seriously tho, and from someone who is just recovering from a bout of bad behaviour, the strange thing about scandie abuse is that it is so unexpected. One minute you have a very fine player - ok, take Orion1 out of the picture a second - next you have someone frothing at the mouth through the chat.

And to be fair, when they are good at PLO, they tend to be very good.



PS - u owe me a mail!

redsimon said...

I see Orion1 turned up in the 75/150 LO8 today location:Miami (Obviously moved to warmer climes?!).

SimonG. said...

Well the stats still say I should play more SNG, but I very quickly found myself reaching for the kettle also.

Now, I only seem to play when completely bored with every other format going....

GimmeDaWatch said...

Why the extreme distaste for sitnogos? I dont know if I'd want to play them exclusively, but then again I dunno if Id want to play NE THING exclusively. Ya know, sometimes I feel like reading Emerson and sometimes I feel like watching Billy Madison, too much of either would probably melt my brain in opposite ways. At any rate, I'v always thought that only playing Multi-table tournaments might be the MOST frustrating of all the potential poker routes, given how long each one takes and the sheer # you could go without having a high-place to show for it, coupled with the frustrating lack of skill inherent in the coinflip contests that determine who gets the big money vs the token pittance. Not quite as much nuance, I guess, to sitngos but I still find them enjoyable in a different way than ring games.

Anonymous said...

First, why is ”looks like a girl” part of the stereotype? Is it because unlike the average English player, we don’t have a macho five o’clock shade and greasy hairdo? We can’t all look like smoking Steve or Barney Boatman. :-D

“You garbage, you play such junk, u mf, I bust u , lol, lmao, u f**ker, I show u, RiverStars again, u broke, llllllloooooollllll”

I know most of the Swedes who visit the international poker tournaments and I can assure you, they act classy at the table. Winners tend to whine less at the table, you know. What you describe fits maybe one Swedish player in live play, not more. Online whine is another issue, it is more common among all nationalities (and it’s also something I dislike a lot, and never do myself).

Also, the best Scandinavian players don’t play shorthanded limit hold’em because they don’t know how to play other games. They play it because that’s where the big money is.

Useful stereotype? I totally disagree.

Annonymous Swedish player

Anonymous said...


Oh by the way, I kind of know both these players. And while they are ok off line, I absolutely agree that their behaviour online is unacceptable and borderline to insane. You could have written about their online berating instead of making it into a stupid stereotype.

Anonymous Swedish player

Andy_Ward said...


I had to chip in because I thought your comment was interesting. To me it's not the frustration element that makes it difficult to play a particular game, it's the boredom element. At least in a cash game you have the odd big pot, or the odd big win in a tournament. S+Gs just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

"given how long each one takes and the sheer # you could go without having a high-place to show for it, coupled with the frustrating lack of skill inherent in the coinflip contests that determine who gets the big money vs the token pittance."

Once you reach a basic winning technical level, learning to deal with this could be the most important factor in making good money out of tournaments IMO. I just tell myself that I don't have to get paid today, I'll get paid in the end. Mind you this is more difficult to do when "taking a shot" at a higher level. A good argument for keeping within your bankroll.


Big Dave D said...

Andy, u beat me too it!

SnG are a great diversion, but as a way to make a living, too intensely boring to believe. The thought of multitabling 4-5 games, most of which there is next to no need for me to be watching for most of the time is an exercise in Zen like discipline. OR insanity.



Big Dave D said...


Orion1 is one of the great wonders of the modern world. His ring game in hilo is horrific. Ive seen him 3 bet, headsup with the tightest player in Hilo-dom with 5533.

Donald is a similar mysetery, at least in hilo terms.

I suspect they all do much better in in ohter games/short handed.



Big Dave D said...

Anon Swede,

I suspect some things may have been lost in translation.

Firstly, this was directed at Scandies AND Nordics.

Secondly, it was meant to be funny...the Aksu in question is Finnish!

Also, I felt it was clear from Part III, and the fact that I havent played live for the duration of this blog, and a good year b4, that this was absolutely intended to be an online comment. If you're new here, I could see why that wouldnt be obvious.

So apologies on the live front.

As to the stereotype itself, I do think its valid.

Not all Cold country types stick to holdem em. I play a lot of them in PLO. And many try and transfer skills and tactics to PLO from their game of choice which simply do not make such a transition.



chaos said...

I've generally found the Scandies to be good sports, they are usually better than euros/americans. One of the reasons they don't/can't complain is because they put outrageous beats or plays on other players too.

Imo it isn't a slur to suggest that they can't adapt easily from the SH game to the ring game - it's tough for anyone. Not necessarily tough to win, but tough not to play in at the same level or bracket. It is easy to overplay , call with weak hands (particularly in the battle of the blinds) in ring games where the scenario could easily trick one into feeling it is a SH game. In SH games, you spend a lot of money, through -EV decision-making,protecting your brand/image/ego, whereas in ring games dozens of foes through a session, this becomes largely unnecessary. It is tough to flat-call a chk-raise on the turn in a ring game when a 3-bet is almost obligatory in a SH game.

I've often been annoyed with my foes for not betting their hands up in ring games as my 'value bet' with second pair fails. Lack of judgement on my part. One flavour of holdem that might complimemt SH LHE well is NLHE tournaments or SNGs. Certainly not, one would imagine, PL Omaha or HiLo games.

btw for those interested, I wrote an unrelated article which I submitted to PIE about 6 weeks ago, it was only a draft (JS was supposed to reply with a comment). I was supposed to come back with a final version, anyway I clean forgot about it and discovered today it was put up a couple of weeks. So forgive the school-boy errors. The content will be perfectly obvious to some, just dressed a little differently.


chaos said...

oh btw probably the worst I came across from that part of the world was a guy called droool or something with a long streak of one vowel (on the crypto site). I seem to remember getting caned one session and then getting the rub down/insults from this guy. If whining about a bad beat lacks class, I'm not sure where that behaviour fits in the scheme of things.

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