When it comes to the big play, competition between the Americas and Europe is fierce. Consider the top money winning countries in the WSOP: 

  1. USA
  2. UK
  3. Canada
  4. Sweden

Very evenly matched, huh? The WPT records are not very different – while Daniel Negreanu tops most winning and earning charts, he is closely followed by Europeans such as Juan Carlos Mortensen or Gus Hansen. And since they are usually traveling back and forth to play against each other, these pros should know better than anyone what the game differences between them are, if any. So we searched up and down and here is what we discovered.  

The Old World speaks its mind: 

British pro Nick Gibson decided to target Las Vegas for 6 months after a major final table at last year’s WSOP. One of his reasons for going to Vegas is the chance of making big money fast: “I believe there’s a greater propensity of bigger tournaments on that side of the shore. We Europeans tend to like the smaller buy-ins”. He also feels his game style to work better against American players because of a very specific playing difference: “The US tournaments seem to allow for more play after the flop, whereas I find the European poker scene is more about trying to get your chips in preflop. I’ve more confidence in my ability to play flops. The English and European game is very aggressive [while] people see flops more in the States.” 

Then there is the young and cosmopolitan Bertrand Grospellier (known online as ElkY): born in Paris, based in Seoul, and a professional Starcraft and poker player. Does a man who’s seen it all think there any playing differences? “Americans are playing maybe a bit more straightforward poker and might be the hardest ones to play, because they just don’t give you chips easily. Europeans are just harder to categorize. Scandinavians are usually really loose-aggressive; Germans tighter, and so on.”  

Other European players may not have a blanket opinion about how Americans play… but they definitely have something to say about Scandinavians! Take Anglo-Italian actor and player Michael Greco, one of Dusk Till Dawn Poker sponsored pros, who claims that Scandinavians are taking over the poker world with their incredible success rate. In his own words: “Swedes are the most feared players in the world. There are a lot of them playing on Dusk Till Dawn, so when I’m playing, I look at where people are from and if there are a handful of Swedes at the table, I’ll go somewhere else.” 

On the other hand, Scottish pro Tony Chessa is unimpressed by Scandinavian ability, but gives them points for aggressive play: “Big numbers don’t produce quality. So just because there are far more Scandinavian players […] doesn’t mean they’re the best players. There are some good Scandinavian players, but I feel most of them are overrated a bit.” Overrated or not, they have forced him to change his playing style: “I used to be known as quite a loose cannon. Quite aggressive. But I’m just not aggressive anymore because of these young Scandinavian kids. So I’m probably quite tight now.” 

Before crossing the Atlantic, let’s go for a quick overview: according to the pros, American tourneys have bigger prizes and players are straightforward but on the tight side, while European play is more aggressive, especially pre-flop. Oh, and the Scandinavians are to be feared, either for their skill or for their daring.

Stay tuned for part IV…

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