Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2003.
This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.
Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lessons from MCU
— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —
Lesson 1: You can gamble and win
A year ago, I wouldn’t have expected to be a student of poker. I’m an Ozarks woman who had never played poker before, much less anticipated, with eagerness, sitting at a table in a casino with a group of people and playing poker for real money, hoping to actually win!
When I recently became Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, I suddenly realized that there were actually people making a living playing poker. I never knew that this was a possibility, until Mike explained that there were gambling games you can beat and ones you can’t beat.
Naturally, I was skeptical that any gambling games could be beat until he explained why. Almost every day, well known poker players call our office, asking Mike questions about poker. I was rather surprised how seriously people took poker. Poker is so different from what I first considered to be gambling. My husband Terry and I raise White-tailed Deer. That’s gambling, because you have to deal with nature, weather, dogs, and diseases. There are risks involved there, too. I anticipate making a profit on the deer I raise, just as I anticipate making a profit in poker. There is skill and knowledge involved in both.
A far-fetched idea
Unless people realize why it is possible to make a living playing poker, they may consider it a far-fetched idea. Mike told me that everybody has heard the same old story in gambling, that you can’t win. As Mike says, if Grandma told you that — she lied!
In my very first lesson, Mike explained how someone has to win at gambling. It can be the casino, if the odds aren’t in your favor, or it can be the person who beats you at bowling, if the odds are in his favor. But one thing is for certain, the odds are the odds; they don’t change because you will them to change.
When you enter a casino and play keno, craps, roulette, or the money wheel, the odds are in favor of the house. The house will win, eventually. So the people who keep pushing the idea that you can’t beat the house at most games are right, but what they’re wrong about is saying you can’t win at gambling.
There are some games where you aren’t playing against the house. In poker, you’re playing against humans. Doesn’t it stand to reason that when people play games against each other, some play better than others? Someone has to win. When Mike said this, it opened my eyes. The secret to winning at poker became obvious.
No matter what games you play, if there is skill involved, some people play better than others, and they are more likely to win. I thought back to the card games that I played in the past, where I was playing for fun and not for money. What if I had been playing for money? At some of the card games, I probably would have won, because I developed the skill it takes to win. It’s player against player and the best player eventually wins.
In poker, you don’t play against the house, and you don’t play against the odds. In poker, you make your own odds. That’s why, when you make superior decisions consistently in a poker game, you win. If you make inferior decisions, then you lose. That’s really all there is to it.
In the months ahead, I’m going to share my lessons with you. I’ve had the unique privilege of learning poker at Mike Caro University from the very beginning.
You and I will both have access to the most sophisticated research and analysis of poker. And what better teacher could we possibly have, than the “Mad Genius of Poker” himself, Mike Caro.
So, let our journey begin. Hold on tight. There’s adventure and discovery ahead.
Keep your heads high and a glint in your eye. We’re going to win — DM