Mike Caro poker word is Dozen


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2007) in Poker Player newspaper.


This is part 5 of a six-part series of entries exploring life-strategy that relates to poker.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 (this part)

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Today, I’m going to repeat the introductory words that launched my investigation into the parallels between gambling strategy and life. That was a dozen years ago. And there were a dozen tips that accompanied those words. We’ve been seeing the tips in the reverse order of their debut, counting down toward one. In this column, I conclude the list of 10 everyday winning concepts already presented with the 11th and 12th members of the list. That’s why today’s word is “dozen” — a dozen years of research, a dozen core tips.

And, yes, there are other life-strategy tips I teach that weren’t included in the original offerings. But we’ll leave those for another day. Now, let’s revisit the arguably weird way I chose to introduce these concepts in the waning years of the previous century…

Today, I’m going to repeat the introductory words that launched my investigation into the parallels between gambling strategy and life. That was a dozen years ago. And there were a dozen tips that accompanied those words. We’ve been seeing the tips in the reverse order of their debut, counting down toward one. In this column, I conclude the list of 10 everyday winning concepts already presented with the 11th and 12th members of the list. That’s why today’s word is “dozen” — a dozen years of research, a dozen core tips.

And, yes, there are other life-strategy tips I teach that weren’t included in the original offerings. But we’ll leave those for another day. Now, let’s revisit the arguably weird way I chose to introduce these concepts in the waning years of the previous century…

White everywhere

Suddenly you’re awake. But where are you? Everywhere you look there’s white. White walls hug and confine you, stretching deeper and deeper, marking the boundaries of a straight, narrow, featureless hallway. You’re bewildered, but who wouldn’t be? Finally you stand and look behind you. All white, everything, going back to where it vanishes.

You push against the hard white floor, swaying and almost losing your balance because you’ve been asleep so long. Looking ahead, you realize the hallway is not exactly like it was behind you. Almost the same, but not quite. Way, way in the distance you can see some specks. And, reasoning that specks are better than nothing, you begin walking toward them.

It takes a long time, but then the specks grow and define themselves. They have become signs, gold in color and arrow-shaped. They hang at the end of the hallway, and you can see lettering on them. Closer and closer you walk, until you can see that there’s a second hallway perpendicular to this one. One arrow points left and reads: “Casino.” The other points right and reads: “Life.”

Real world

It’s decisions like this that make you cry out for your mommy. Let me help.

Turn right toward the real world, and I’ll give you some advice as you’re walking. In the future I’ll provide plenty of strategy for winning at formal gambling, including some tips that will help you fare better inside the casino.

But there’s something you have to understand today. Gambling games are merely formalized, simplified ways of experiencing exactly the same risks we encounter in everyday life. If you’re alive — as most of my readers are — -you gamble. Formally or informally, you gamble.

Poker without cards

Not surprisingly, many of the same strategies I’ve lectured about and analyzed with computers apply just as powerfully to everyday life as they do to formalized gambling. Somewhere down the list of my next 20 books, which I’ve announced but failed to deliver so far, is one called Poker Without Cards.

By the way, I absolutely never use any manipulative tactics that I teach against people I respect. Why? Because, having heard me lecture about these strategies, people would feel uncomfortable interacting with me.

So, I deal with all friendly associates in a completely straightforward manner. I have to. You don’t.

Now here are some useful examples of gambling tips and philosophies I hope you’ll successfully be able to adapt to the world around you.

That’s how I introduced my real-life strategy tips 12 years ago. Now, we finish the list, adding these two tips to the 10 published in previous columns…

11. The cards probably won’t break even — not in gin rummy, not in poker, and not in real life. There’s a common misconception that if you play poker long enough the cards will break even. Fat chance!

Maybe, if you could play forever, never stopping, never sleeping, eventually you’d break even on luck. But not in just one lifetime! Early on you’d probably nearly break even on, say, the number of full houses you were dealt, but it would take much longer to break even on circumstances surrounding those full houses.

You might lose on more full houses than you should, on average. On the other hand, sometimes opponents might have nothing to challenge you with, and you’ll win nothing.

You might get many full houses when you’re sitting in big-limit games, or you may receive most in smaller games. You might be against weak opponents, you might not. On and on. And the more factors you consider, the broader the range of luck, and the longer it will take for you to break even.

Luckier

Does this mean some people are luckier than others for their lifetimes? You bet! But there’s good news.

You can still win, year after year, in gambling games requiring skill, even if you’re not lucky. How? Simply by making the best decisions again and again without fail. Then, instead of being a break-even big-money player who may win $100,000 one year and lose $100,000 the next, you might win $250,000 in a lucky year and win $50,000 in an unlucky year.

In this over-simplified example, the $200,000 swing from lucky year to unlucky year isn’t enough to cause you to lose.

Mission

At seminars, I teach that you should go to the poker table day after day on a simple mission. That mission is to make the best decisions always, and never worry about whether you’re lucky or unlucky. You can’t control your luck, but you can control your decisions.

Same in life. Some people spend half their lives in hospitals. Others are healthy. All your belongings might be swept up in a tornado. You might discover a million dollar painting in you attic. Stop expecting life to be equal for everyone. It won’t be. Your mission is simply to make the best decisions with the “hands” you’re dealt.

Now, let’s move to tip 12, which is actually an extension of two we visited previously.

12. If you’re a winner–in formal gambling or in life–you should never try to get even “for the night.” By doing that, you’re perverting your practice of making meaningful decisions while pursuing a meaningless goal.

The mistake is in looking at each gambling session, or each financial venture, as a game to be won or lost. Don’t! In poker, it’s better to win $10,000, lose $2000, and lose $500 than to win $4,000, win $998 and win $2.  In the first case, you won $7,500, but you only had one win and two losses. In the second case, you won only $5,000, but you won all three times. Oddly, most gamblers and most people in real life unconsciously feel better about the second scenario than the first. Such feelings are natural, but they’re also dangerous.

If you agree with me that $7,500 is better than $5,000, then you should clearly see that it doesn’t matter where the profits come from. Be willing to take losses and move on to better opportunities.

And, so, there’s the final one of 12 core concepts taught that are aimed at enhancing your success in everyday life. Let me know if they work for you. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

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