Mike Caro poker word is Attitude

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2008) in Poker Player newspaper.

There you are. I’ve been looking all over the place for you.

We need to talk about today’s word: Attitude. That’s because, if you’re anything like most of the students I’ve taught in years past, this aspect of poker seems pretty insignificant. But it isn’t. And, as a result of that faulty perspective, profit suffers and bankrolls frequently vanish.

This is a continuation of a series of columns in which I’m allowed to both ask and answer the questions. Each column stands alone and doesn’t require any familiarity with previous ones. Then why do I number the questions consecutively, continuing from where we left off last time? I don’t know, I just do. Consider that an unnumbered bonus question and answer.

We left off with question 84. In case you feel psychologically damaged by having to start with a large-numbered question, here’s a mathematical trick I learned from someone on TV. I can’t remember who — maybe it was Paris Hilton. Anyway, just subtract 84 from the question number and you’ll be starting over. Neat trick, huh? Here we go…

Question 85: Is it bad attitude that causes us not to play our best poker all the time?

Bad attitude isn’t the cause; it’s the result. The cause is bad planning.

When we first sit down in a poker game, we’re determined to play our best. But opponents can irritate us. Dealers can infuriate us. Bad beats can happen.

And sometimes we begin to respond emotionally, playing too many hands, calling too many bets, making irrational bluffs, or wagering the wrong amounts at the wrong times.

Unhappy things

That’s usually because we didn’t plan for the obvious. When you leave home and head for the poker table, remind yourself that unhappy things will always happen — sometimes minor, sometimes major. You need to decide that you’ll stick to your best game, no matter what.

And the way to do that is to divide yourself in two. Pretend you’re two different people:

You’re the boss who stays home after giving the commands; and you’re also the obedient employee who goes off and does that job. You’ll continue to get paid if you act as the boss has instructed; otherwise, you’ll be fired and go broke.

When you use that psychological trick, you have no choice but to play profitably, because you can’t modify your instructions until you return home and talk to your boss. And guess what? In the long run, you really will get paid if you follow the boss’ orders; and if you don’t, you won’t.

Question 86: How should you react when a dealer costs you the pot?

Dealers don’t cost you pots or win you pots. Events are just events; dealers are just dealers. And a dealer malfunction is simply an event that might have worked in your favor, instead of against you. That’s the right attitude.

True, a good dealer will distribute cards efficiently and you’ll get to play more hands per hour. Beyond that, it doesn’t really matter much whether the dealer makes mistakes. Consider it to be just another added shuffle that changes the cards.

Question 87: How do you handle not getting your fair share of cards?

I handle it by not caring.

Focusing on whether the cards are being equally distributed in fair shares will drive you crazy. It’s a tough, time-consuming job trying to keep track. And you really can’t do anything about it, anyway.

So let your opponents be frustrated by unfavorable card distribution. You? Just concentrate on making great decisions.

Question 88: Does it hurt to tell opponents that you’re unlucky?


Complaining about your merciless misfortune is just an attempt to extract empathy from opponents. Here’s a tip: Opponent’s aren’t empathetic.

Instead of making them feel sorry for you, you’re merely pointing out that you’re vulnerable. They’re likely to think, “Hey, there’s someone unluckier than I am — someone I can beat!”


And as a result of their renewed confidence, they’ll play better against you. Complaining costs money.

Here’s another psychological trick I teach: Cheer for your opponents. It does wonders for your attitude.

You won’t negatively affect the cards you’re dealt, so there’s no penalty. If you lose a pot, you’re on the winning side. And if you win a pot, you get a consolation prize — the money!

Question 89: Should I be content to accept a reasonable win and quit, rather than risk losing for the night?

Usually, doing so is bad policy.

This behavior stems from the notion that you need to go home winning. That’s the wrong attitude.

If you’re a superior player in a profitable game, think of it as an opportunity to make more money by remaining. You get paid by the hour in poker.

You’ll have ups and downs, and you could easily lose your profit and leave losing. But if you cash out now, you might forfeit a lot of extra money. Over time, assuming you’re motivated and not tired, the more hours you play against weaker opponents, the richer you’ll be next year.

Question 90: Will pretending to be lucky help me win?

Well, pretending to be lucky won’t change the cards. But it will have an influence on your opponents.

What many opponents fear most is your good luck. If they believe you’re lucky, they feel intimidated and make poorer decisions. So help their perception along: Pretend to be lucky, even when fate has been disappointing you.

All of today’s questions and answers demonstrate that your attitude really does matter in poker. Bring an even temperament to the table. Be willing to accept either good or bad cards equally and simply focus on making the right choices.

In the long run, if you have enough skill, you’ll win. In the short term, why waste your time worrying about luck? You can spend that same mental energy more wisely by focusing on poker strategy. — 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.


8 thoughts on “Mike Caro poker word is Attitude”

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  1. I agree with Mike on the “dealer messed me up” point. S*** happens, and will always happen. Dealers are part of the poker room environment just as is the chair you sit on. If it malfunctions, and you sprain your butt and miss a round in a tournament which you were dealt pocket aces every hand, you just suck it up.

    If the free coffee has spoilt creamer and you spend time in the john as a result, you just suck it up.

    The dealer, the chair, and the coffee are part of the environment that you take as a given when you pay the tournament entry fee or buy your chips in a cash game.

  2. again with the Cash/ vs T play,
    Dealers CAN cost you pots , My cards were to be KK until dealer flipped 2nd K in air, and flop was K high – no st , no flush, I would have won hand and NOT bubbled, $2300 instead I lose ! An inconvenient fact for your years old analysis.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your poker misfortune. That truly sucks! However, I don’t see how that invalidates my advice or why it’s “an inconvenient fact for your years old analysis.” In fact, my advice is precisely targeted for your unfortunate situation.

  3. When I know I am not lucky, I look for a blind woman who is about to fall over a back pack and fall down. I grab her hand. Works everytime.

  4. I disagree with the complaining part. When you complain, it is often because you are close to be on tilt. You can use this as a tell for yourself. That you need need to be aware that you might soon need to quit. Also when your opponents get bad cards shortly after, they will be more likely to go on tilt. I like a little bit of complaining to put my opponents on tilt. When trash talking is allowed and used by some of our opponents. Then why not use it ourselves?

    Also about cheering the opponent to win. I do not like this. Because it puts my mind in a way, where my mind wants my opponent to win. It means in the next games, my unconsiousness might be making decisions for me that I am unaware of. I might with out knowing it, put myself in very tough spots that costs me money. It does not mean I never cheer my opponents to win. I believe this can be a powerfull tool to make opponents play with you more often and for longer. Just be carefull with who to use it against.

    To sum it up. I like cheering my weaker opponents and to complain to versus my strong opponents. I do it a lot like that, and I believe that it works pretty good for me.

  5. Pretending to be lucky is a great thing, I discovered.

    I’m usually the only woman at a table full of men that are going to be real irritated if I take their money. They will get surly and negative and tight. No good.

    I always tell them how bad I am at the game. I always let them give me advice, like, “I knew he didn’t have a set because when people have sets they don’t bet, they check.” Really? I ask with wide-eyed admiration. And I always am very happy for them when they win.

    And when I scoop up a pot I just bluffed them out of, I never ever show my cards, I just look amazed and say, “Wow, I can’t believe I got so lucky!” or “Good thing there’s luck or I’d never win.” And then when I bet out with my set and take lots o’ chips a while later, I just look like I got lucky again! And when that same guy says, “You’d have made more if you slow-played it,” I always look dismayed and say, “Oh! I forgot!”

    I am one dumb broad but I do get lucky.

    Good advice, Mr. Caro.

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