Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2007) in Poker Player newspaper.
This is part 1 of a six-part series of entries exploring life-strategy that relates to poker.
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Today, I want to share a poker tactic that succeeds in real life beyond the tables. First, let me tell you about MCU – Mike Caro University of Poker. Well, that’s the short name that people are most familiar with, but there’s a longer one that more fully explains my reasons for founding the university. The complete name is Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy.
The “gaming” part is a bit ambiguous these days. For decades it was the term used to soft-sell the casino business and related wagering activities. Apparently, some folks thought that the word “gaming” could serve as a euphemism; they feared coming right out and saying “gambling,” which had a more negative connotation than it has today, was bad policy.
However, recently others have begun competing vigorously for entitlement to the word “gaming.” And – wow, what a shock – it turns out to be groups that play games! Specifically, people who are serious about computer games — including those played on specialty devices like Xbox, PlayStation, PCs, or Nintendo — consider themselves gamers. And they often don’t gamble.
I can assure you that the “Gaming” in the full name of MCU does, in fact, mean gambling – although logically it could be otherwise, because I sometimes teach tactics that apply to winning at other games where gambling may not be present.
You can’t earn an advanced degree at MCU, although that was my original plan. It doesn’t exist in any one location anymore, except perhaps in the Ozarks where I now reside and purchased a 31 acre “campus” for its potential future classroom use. (Note: The MCU “campus” was expanded to 41 acres shortly after this entry was written in 2007.) And that’s why when reporters ask me to describe MCU, I tell them it’s a hoax. Maybe that’s a little too cute or self-effacing, but it’s almost true. But the more I say that, the more reporters seem to write about it. Go figure.
Now we arrive at today’s main point. The name includes “Life Strategy.” What’s that? It’s the most important potential thing that MCU offers. I realized this long ago when I did my first keynote speech that focused on poker tactics as equated to life strategy. And long before that (and we’re talking about two decades ago) I announced a life-strategy book called “Poker Without Cards.” If you’re one of those still waiting for the on-sale date, you might need to wait a little longer. I’m still slowly resolving my lifelong infatuation with procrastination as art form.
So, without making you wait for the book, here’s the first of several examples of poker tactics in everyday life that I’ll be sharing now and then. Some, including this one, will be adapted from my previous writings…
Don’t let every injustice bother you. In gambling and in life, there’s always injustice. Bet on it! Poker’s worst starting hands often win. And bad players sometimes get lucky. Dealers may fumble the deck and expose cards that cost you money or may wrongly accuse you of not anteing. In life, it’s the same. In fact, there’s so much injustice that we couldn’t possibly devote ourselves to setting things right.
Next year there will probably be 246 unbelievably unjust things that will happen to you personally. Cashiers will hand you too little change. People will spread falsehoods about you. Someone will misunderstand what you say. Crooks will scam you. On and on. And we’re guessing that this will happen 246 times next year. If it only happens 230 times, you’re having a good year! So, you can either just go on to the next thing, or you can damage you chances of success by dwelling on each injustice, talking about it, fuming over it.
All that fusing, all that fuming, all that waste of mental energy really doesn’t make sense. Why should you get aggravated, especially if you’re having a good year? So, simply, learn to overlook injustices unless you’re prepared to invest time, energy, and resources to act on them.
Yes, it’s sometimes noble to act against injustice, but quibbling doesn’t count. I teach that if it’s only worth a quibble, it probably isn’t worth your time at all. — MC
Note: The following is unrelated, but accompanied the column when first published. It is repeated here for historical purposes.
As an aside, I should pay tribute to Stanley Sludikoff, publisher of this newspaper. In the 1970s, he founded what quickly became the leading magazine in the world of gambling. He named it Gambling Times. He didn’t call it “Gaming Times” – he came right out and said it. Gambling. For decades, Sludikoff promoted gambling and, specifically poker, in ways nobody else had dared. And for his astounding number of milestone innovations and contributions to poker, Oklahoma Johnny Hale chose him (along with an equally deserving Phyllis Caro) to be inducted into poker’s Senior’s Hall of Fame last month.
I had the honor of introducing Stan, and I pointed out that most poker players don’t realize how much he’s done for us. Instead of prancing around the world promoting himself, he’s quietly stayed behind the scenes promoting the game. And he’s the one man, back when poker wasn’t so popular, who had the vision to give us what we needed most – a voice.
Over 20 years later, I founded MCU, but even in those more modern times, I couldn’t quite bring myself to include the word “gambling.” There are other unsettling things about MCU you should know. First of all, it isn’t really a university or even a school. I’m not sure what it has become, other than an umbrella name for occasional courses, seminars, research, books, and videos.