McHaffie: MCU lesson 068 / Caro’s four color deck


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2006.

This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable  poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.

Diane McHaffie index.

Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at diane@caro.com.


Diane McHaffie

Lessons from MCU

— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —

Lesson 68: Caro’s four color deck

Did you know that there was a C-Day? Yes, on February 18, 1995 Mike’s ingenious idea for a four color deck blossomed and was presented at selected poker tables in 65 casinos worldwide, making his dream come true. C-Day stood for Color Day. The four color deck consists of each suit being identified by its own color. Clubs are green, diamonds are blue, hearts remain red and spades remain black. This would simplify identifying your cards.

Breaking with tradition

But, Mike’s dreams were unbelievably, stunningly, horribly dashed that day. Mike remembers that the managers reported a “stunned silence” at this sudden change in the color of the cards on that fateful day. The players were unsure about this unusual break with the traditional colors. Although most players seemed impressed, some were indifferent and then there those who voiced their discontent rather loudly. There were a few who took this opportunity to blame their misfortune on the color change at their tables.

It was polled and reported to Mike that “at the beginners tables, and among the novices there was not a single person who didn’t’ prefer the four color deck”, which was what Mike had expected from them and was pleased that he was right.

Mike wants it known that this wasn’t really his idea. He claims that there probably were experiments with the four color deck hundreds of years ago. He stubbornly adheres to the theory that in the beginning the deck of cards existed with each suit bearing its own color, not sharing colors as they do today. He suspects the change to two colors was done for printing convenience or for economy.

Introduction at Foxwoods

Mike requested that the people attending his seminars vote on which colors the suits should be, so that the colors would be fairly chosen. He then tried unsuccessfully to introduce the four color deck at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods a couple of years before C-Day. At that tournament (which, incidentally, he named and founded), the four color deck was proudly advertised. But a problem occurred, a serious one. The shading of the colors was wrong and it was hard to determine the suits due to the lighting. On the second day of the tournament, due to player’s complaints, the color decks were pulled.

Then C-Day, February 18, 1995 arrived. Mike recalls the day clearly, horribly. It was a day full of embarrassment and humiliation. “I just wanted to hide,” he moaned, hurt beyond imagination. After allowing the four color deck a mere couple of hours experiment the cards were tossed and replaced with the traditional decks. Mike was devastated. The moment that he had waited for had come and gone with tragic results. “I’d spent years lobbying, cajoling, and publicizing an event that was intended to change the very nature of playing cards forever and it just resulted in two hours of agony. Misery. Death throes.” For Mike it wasn’t just “some quiet disaster.” No, his campaign for the four color deck had been publicized in Playboy and made headlines elsewhere. Mike even proudly displayed his four color deck in a cover photo.

Dust to dust, ashes to ashes

Mike says his ultimate humiliation came when he walked into Hollywood Park Casino to the loud, obnoxious yell, “Burn ‘em!” Mike assumed the player meant the four color deck, not himself, but who knows, he muses.

“The casinos probably did burn the hundreds of decks that were distributed,” Mike muses, “since the collectors are finding it difficult to locate any. Dust to dust; ashes to ashes.”

Red and black colors appear to do better with surveillance cameras back then, but that may be different today. Thankfully, the four color deck has made a comeback online. More players are choosing to use the four color deck because of the ease in reading them. Mike has succeeded there and feels it’s just a matter of time before the real world accepts the deck, too. — DM

Next entry in Lessons from MCU series

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Let's make sure it's really you and not a bot. Please type digits (without spaces) that best match what you see. (Example: 71353)