My three ways to stop losing at poker right now


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1993) in Card Player magazine.


Is the following a true story, or just one of those Mad Genius scenes created to make a point? Good question. You should always be skeptical, but this time I remember it as clearly as the day I was born. In 1991, I found myself sipping coffee and interviewing a player named Jeff, who was persistent about wanting poker lessons.

“But, how would my giving you lessons on poker strategy benefit you?” I wanted to know.

“Because I’ve tried everything else, and I’m still losing.” A simple, adequate answer, right?

“Have you read anything I’ve written?” I pursued.

“Everything,” Jeff assured me.

“Sklansky?”

“Yes. Everything.”

Then I exposed Jeff to brutal truth. “My lessons on poker strategy won’t help. If you were already a winner after understanding what you’ve studied, I could make you a much bigger winner. Or, if you were losing, but you’d never studied anything about advanced poker strategy, I could turn you into a winner. Or, if you were losing after having studied strategy, but you really didn’t understand it, I could help. Unfortunately, you’re losing for a different reason, and I’m betting it’s one of these three…”

Three ways to stop losing. If you already know how to play better than most opponents in an honest game, and you’re still losing, just do these three things. You will stop losing.

1. Find the easiest games. Most players, even some pros, don’t follow this rule. You will.

2. Play your best game all the time. Most Players, even some pros, don’t follow this rule. You must.

3. Don’t complain about bad luck. Most players, even most pros, tell opponents they’re unlucky. Bad move! Tell opponents you’re lucky and they’ll be intimidated. Tell opponents you’re unlucky and they’ll be inspired to beat you. Keep your misfortune a secret.

So, that’s it! Repeating my incredibly simple Mad Genius formula that will stop you from losing right now: (1) Find easy games; (2) Play your best game; (3) Don’t complain. Every 10 minutes, between hands, ask yourself if you’re violating any one of my three rules. When you’re ready to stop violating, you’re ready to stop losing. It’s that simple.

Jeff’s fate. Do you want to know Jeff’s fate? Why? It wasn’t real coffee, Jeff wasn’t a real guy, and he didn’t really want lessons. So we don’t care about him winning. But, you’re real, and we do care about you winning. — MC

Published by

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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  1. percents were 0.29 0.73 0.60 but in events with more players of course
    my win 17% lose 81% ratio were worse, but my suckout losses declined to 50%.

  2. I played 52 Qual / SNGs won 15 lost 38 of those losses 31 were suckouts, if I can reduce suckout rate, il lbe happy not winning any higher %

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