In live poker games, you only get to play about 30 hands per hour. At this rate, it can take a while to build an understanding of your opponents. Thankfully, there are some general stereotyping guidelines you can follow to have an understanding of how your opponents will play even if you just sat down at the table. It simply takes too long to learn your opponents’ tendencies in live games. To really beat the game, you’ve got to make a few assumptions based on the player’s apparent age, race, sex, and lifestyle.
These players usually have a pretty decent understanding of hand values. A lot of them have hangups about being caught with their pants down, so they’ll be pretty reluctant to call huge bets with marginal holdings. Risk-aversion is the name of the game with these players. They sit there, grind it out, and do everything possible to avoid having their head taken off. When holding a strong hand against them, you’ll just have to make small- to medium-sized value bets in hopes that they’ll call you down.
Sure, there are a few exceptions to this rule, but by and large, women are pretty bad at poker. They often have a lackluster comprehension of hand values and are pretty easy to trap into calling bet after bet so long as they have at least top pair. Unlike with old guys, it’s pretty safe to fire larger bets against women. They don’t seem to put as much emphasis on “how much” was bet… only that something was bet. Use this to your advantage. If you want them to fold, just try betting something small to see if they’ll go away. If you want them to call, bet somewhat hefty.
Young guys can kind of be hit or miss. The “drunken frat boys” can tend to play pretty bad whereas the “quiet kid with a hoodie and an iPod” could be one of the best players in the world (thanks to hundreds of thousands of hands of online poker). But by and large, young guys play pretty well. When in doubt, it’s best to just stay out of their way. However, if you have a drunken frat boy at your table, don’t be afraid to milk him for all he’s worth if you have a big hand. Often, they have some “macho” Hangups that disallow folding. Young guys are also easy to induce into making a bluff, so don’t shy away from leading out at the flop if you hit it really well.
Asian males, for the most part, are completely erratic. A lot of deeply-rooted cultural inferiority leads to them attempting to “prove something” while at the poker table. They like to play loose, make a lot of bluffs, and gamble it up! A term used in the poker world to describe these players is “crazian”. If you run into a crazian, try to trap them by betting big and hoping they pick a poor spot to bluff all-in. The downfall of these players is their inability to admit defeat. However, with all of that being said, they’re often pretty good at poker albeit insane. There’s nothing wrong with staying out of their way and waiting for that monster hand to rob them blind and leave them shouting, “webuy!”
You won’t see a ton of Hispanics at the poker table, but when you do, I’ve noticed a lot of them carry a “just happy to be here” attitude. They’ll generally play very straightforward; if they have a hand, they’ll bet, if they don’t, they’ll fold. You can open up a little more against these guys. As long as you seem friendly and respectable to them, they’ll generally fold a lot to you.