Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2009) in Poker Player newspaper.
Why would I devote a column to the word “drinking”? Maybe it’s because that’s what I’m doing right now as I begin to celebrate New Year’s Eve deep into the afternoon. As usual, I’m late submitting my column, so I’ll have to compose this tonight in short sit-downs, between sips and gulps of wine, champagne, eggnog with rum, and beer. If that works for you, fine; if not, well, happy New Year!
Warning! I don’t drink often, so what you’re reading may seem incoherent, and I reserve the right to retract anything or everything in the morning. This is yet another entry in my extended series of self-interviews. I’ll be back for the first question when I’m done walking my paths and socializing with the furry creatures in the forest. Such is the life of a poker hermit
Okay, I’m here again. I told the squirrels and a couple deer that we’re about to enter a fresh new year of poker, but they just stared back at me with those typical “who didn’t know that?” eyes. Ask me something.
Question 1: We’re about to enter a new decade in a few hours. Do you have any predictions for the next 10 years?
As an interviewer, you already suck, and I mean that with great respect. We are definitely not “about to enter a new decade in a few hours.” How many years are in a decade? When you’re done counting, whisper it to me. You’re right, it’s 10. And whisper the number you think should identify the first year. One – very good! So, what number should apply to the last year? Ten – you’re on a roll!
That means 2001 is the first year of this decade, and we’re about to enter the last year, 2010. For the very same reason, the last year of the previous century or millennium was 2000, and this one didn’t begin until 2001. Almost everyone celebrated a year early.
Question 2: Fine. I stand corrected. But what does that have to do with poker?
It pretty much boils down to this: To be a superior poker player you need to think logically. So, I’ll pretend you asked for my predictions for the next 11 years, carrying us from today through December 31, 2020. Here they are.
- The four-color deck, with each suit having its own color, will finally grow in popularity. This will, unfortunately, not be due to my long campaign for its introduction into real-world casinos, but because more and more online players are using it routinely and finding old-fashioned two-color decks… well, simply old-fashioned.
- Poker popularity on TV will wane a bit and then surge again. This may happen more than once.
- Hold ’em will lose market share as other traditional forms of poker are revisited and new forms evolve.
- Tournaments will change. This not only will happen, but must happen due to a fundamental flaw. In order to go after the profit in a common proportional-payoff poker tournament, you must deliberately decide not to play your best everyday game. You have to discard many of those risky tricks and techniques that make you superior in a live game. For targeting profit, you must play to survive into the money. That means that any player trying specifically to win first place is at a disadvantage. This defeats the purpose of a tournament. I have offered appealing alternatives. I predict that within the next 11 years, you’ll see them used more and more.
- Simultaneous betting will be introduced online. I developed a method for simultaneous betting at Planet Poker way back in 1998. It’s something that appeals to less-sophisticated players, doesn’t necessarily include raising, and is accomplished with a short countdown timer, after which the pre-checked decision sticks. It can only be accomplished online. There’s no practical way to do it in the real world.
- A reality TV show based on playing poker to settle feuds will be introduced. Most of the show will be based on interviews and emotional build-up about the feud. Poker will resolve it, but be shown last. I’ve tried to market this idea for years, with some interest, but no moves forward.
- I will play less and less, while working on poker projects.
- I will continue to claim that I’m the best player alive, without outstanding tournament credentials to prove it, because I still won’t enter many events.
- Some people will believe me, because declaring you’re the best is compelling when it’s even slightly plausible, while actually playing makes proof difficult. If I played hundreds of events and seldom got lucky, no one would believe I’m the best. Declaring it is the answer. A few people believe you. Pure genius, right?
10. New means of collusion monitoring, based on the theories I have been shopping around, will make online competition much more attractive to honest players.
11. There will be “bots only” games online where players can pit their programmed artificial players against each other, configured through standardized decision-making software that all contestants must use. These games will be optional, and normal real-people games will still prevail.
Question 3: What do you plan to accomplish in the next 11 years?
I will definitely introduce two new books in 2010. Both are from my long-delayed Professional Poker, Play by Play series. One is titled “Tells, Psychology, and Manipulation,” and the other is “Professional hold ’em, Play by Play.” These are already in process. In addition, my director of operations, Diane McHaffie, is expanding the lessons I’ve given her, as reported in her Poker Player column. The result will be an introductory book covering the basic theories and tips from Mike Caro University of Poker, incorporating a lot of extra material written by me to tie it all together.
I’m working on video courses for poker. The new DVDs will appear soon. I’m expecting to update and add much new material to my web site, Poker1.com. And I expect to reintroduce Orac (Caro spelled backwards) after 25 years in hiding. Orac is my artificially intelligent poker player that appeared on ABC television and at the World Series of Poker about 1984. I’m expecting to prove its superiority in heads-up public matches against the world’s best known players.
Also, within a year or so, I’m planning to finally offer in-person private week-long training to players here at my Mike Caro University of Poker campus in the Ozarks. I’ll also continue to consult with casinos and conduct occasional seminars, but mostly I’ll remain a hermit on the lake here in the forest.
Question 4: Who will be the poker stars 11 years from now?
First let me have a few sips of creme de cocao. I know you think it’s a lady drink, but so what? There, I’m ready to answer.
Some will be the same as today. That’s because they’ve established status seniority by becoming famous early (sometimes through extraordinary luck). What you shouldn’t expect is for the same players to dominate.
There’s a great deal of luck in poker tournaments, and the very best players have only about three times their “fair share” chance of winning. By fair share, I mean that if there were 300 events with the same 300 players in each, then one championship ring or trophy for each of the players is exactly right. That’s the fair share. Skill matters, though, so the top competitors can expect to win once in about 100 of those same 300 events – three wins, on average. That’s just a guess, but I think it’s close to the reality.
But, if you’re only supposed to win once in 100 tournaments, it’s easy to see how potential superstars can go years without getting lucky and winning. And it’s also easy to see how lesser-quality players might go on hot streaks and be temporarily perceived as superstars. That’s pretty much what’s happening right now.
Look for new names to skyrocket into the public spotlight and then “mysteriously” lose their magic and have long droughts. In eleven years, I can’t predict who the top names will be, but I can promise the glory for many will be fleeting.
Question 5: Let’s talk about today’s word, “Drinking.” How does that relate to poker?
Some say you should never drink when you’re playing poker, but I think you sometimes make more money (assuming you drink at all) if you have one drink for each two your opponents have. That assumes there aren’t many non-drinkers in your game. That way it doesn’t seem like you’re taking advantage. It’s the same as loosening up halfway, when your opponents are in full-throttle tilt. It works.
Midnight is a few hours away. Remember, always cheer for your opponents, because that way you won’t be upset and only two things can happen: you’re rooting for the winning side when they win; or (2) you get a consolation prize – the pot. This psychological trick doesn’t change your luck. But it keeps you off tilt. Just so you know, if we ever play against each other, I’ll sincerely be hoping you win. — MC
Next self-interview: Mike Caro poker word is Disappointment