Mike Caro poker word is Rivered


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2005) in Poker Player newspaper.


I’ve got an idea. Let’s imagine a hold ’em game. Sometimes playing hold ’em can be frustrating, right? Well, here’s good news, I want you to imagine you just got dealt a pair of aces. It’s a loose game and this feels like your lucky day. Think happy.

Now comes the final card, the river, where some obnoxious player wearing a plaid hat, a ten-pound gold chain, and stained white tennis shoes has just taken a 10-7 of two different suits to the river and connected for an inside straight! You just got “rivered,” drawn out on. You were a big favorite until the very last card, and now what do you have to show for it?

Did you imagine it like I asked you to? You probably didn’t have to, because you’ve already had this happen to you what seems like a hundred times. I’m right, huh. Fine. Today, I’m here to help.

I want you to take a close look at a lecture I first delivered years ago. It won’t keep you from being drawn out on, but it will give you a different attitude about it. And, I believe, this fresh attitude can be worth a lot of money to you. Ready to give it a try?

Why opponents keep drawing out on you

It is a mournful cry, and it has become one of poker’s most repeated complaints. “I had the gentlemen beat all the way, but then the bastard drew out on me!” Drawn out on. You know what that means – it’s a poker term that says you had your opponent beat, but he got lucky in the end and beat you, despite your advantage. It’s poker’s biggest frustration, poker’s most common complaint, the essence of bad-beat stories.

The strongest, most serious players seem to complain the most. It’s as if they believe they’re singled out to suffer more long-shot draw-outs per hand played than their opponents.

More selective

Let me tell you a strange secret. It’s true! The best players really do get drawn out on the most. But rather than waste your energy feeling sorry for yourself, I’m going to fix your attitude once and for all and explain an important poker concept in the process.

What’s the difference between a typical winning player and a typical losing player? Well, there are hundreds of differences, lots of strategy refinements, superior psychology, and more. But the main difference between the winners and losers in a typical fast-action poker game is that the winners are more selective about the hands they play. The losers simply play too many hands.

And, because of this, the winners – because they’re selective – are entering pots with superior hands. Now follow me. If the winners are entering pots with superior hands, how do they get beat? They get drawn out on, right? Right! Often winners can only lose by getting drawn out on and losers can only win by drawing out.

It’s natural

So, if you’re a winning player, it’s only natural that a bigger percentage of the hands you play end up with some weaker player drawing out on you. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Strong players are supposed to be drawn out on.

Listen. Winners get drawn out on more often when they play hands. It’s because they have the best hands to begin with. It’s natural. If you’re a strong player, expect to be drawn out on a lot. Don’t complain. Being drawn out on is a measure of how good you are.

This is “The Mad Genius of Poker” Mike Caro and that’s my secret today. — 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.

11 thoughts on “Mike Caro poker word is Rivered”

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  1. Ummm Mike, while I respect and admire you, and while you are probably right, it gets frustrating and aggravating to get drawn out on regularly. Just lost a big tournament when the cretin hit an inside straight on the river against my set. I literally wanted to strangle him on the spot. Instead I shook his hand, said “nice play,” and walked out. Only the experienced players knew what I meant by “nice play.”

  2. Nice article and advice Mike,I was needing to hear it.Im in the middle of a 6 months streak of bubbling many final tables andbeing taken out of games when I was ahead before the flop(usually all in situations)I know it should all level out in the end but what if my ”in the end” takes 20 years?im 51 and dont want to wait that long
    Your frustrated friend Joe Green

  3. That’s very true and I never looked at it from that perspective. It does make it more understandable and hopefully it will soften the blow next time it happens. Once again, many thanks for sharing.

  4. Ok, it SHOULD hurt less, but maybe it takes some getting used to. I seem to have lost a lot in cash games specifically when drawed on, but then again I make up for it in MTTs. Why? I haven’t a clue. I always check afterwards via different software how I’ve played, and usually all/most indicators tell I’m playing well (tight, aggressive, solid), yet I am still waiting to double my cash in the micro-low stakes. It seems the tight, good players seldom make decent, if any money in these limits. Should I move up to e.g. .50/1$ where ppl play a lot more “sensibly”.
    TIA, Spidy.

    1. Hi, Spidy —

      I can’t say whether you should move up. It depends on the quality of opponents at the different stakes.

      One important consideration is the rake. It’s usually a greater percentage on a per-pot basis in smaller games than in larger ones. Sometimes that’s enough to justify moving up; sometimes not.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Whatever you do, don’t play games that limit your maneuverability, because the larger stakes worry you.

      Unfortunately, you’ll probably need to play tight in smaller games. This isn’t because of opponents, but because the high-percentage rake takes away the profit from many hands that would average marginal wins without it.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

      1. Hi Mike!
        Thanks for the insight. I didn’t even consider the rake being a factor, I’ve got to take a better look at it.

        I certainly need to try out playing even tighter in the micro-low stakes. And I won’t consider playing with too high stakes, I wouldn’t want to play with scared money.

        Have a nice summer!

  5. It’s as if they believed they were singled out to suffer more draw-out, long-shot defeats when they play hands than their opponents do.

    Shouldn’t this read: better hands than their opponents do. ?

    1. Hi, Stan —

      It’s probably not the clearest sentence, but “better” isn’t an ingredient in it.

      Your confusion is understandable, and I’ll rewrite it now. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

      Specifically, I’m changing…

      “It’s as if they believed they were singled out to suffer more draw-out, long-shot defeats when they play hands than their opponents do.”

      to…

      “It’s as if they believe they’re singled out to suffer more long-shot draw-outs per hand played than their opponents.”

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

    1. Hi BDfromSD —

      Actually, it does hurt less if you realize that being drawn out on is a sign that you’re earning money.

      Thanks for making your first comment and joining our Poker1 family.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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