McHaffie: MCU lesson 011 / Setting up business

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 index.

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

Diane McHaffie

Lessons from MCU

— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —

Lesson 11: Setting up business where the profit is

I had a friend who started a beauty shop in a small town. Unfortunately for her, there weren’t any places available near the main traffic, around other businesses.  She had to set up business on a side street, a little off the main path. Therefore, there weren’t enough people driving by to discover her business. Even though she advertised heavily, her shop just wasn’t convenient enough to warrant people going out of their way. Her business, sadly, didn’t flourish.

They say the three most important things to remember in business are “Location, location, and location.” Many businesses, whether beauty shops, pet stores, or restaurants, fail because of their poor locations. Their owners didn’t research the areas well enough beforehand. Meanwhile, other mediocre businesses do well because they have the better location.

This reasoning applies to poker, as well.  You want to play against opponents that will make good customers, bringing their money to your “store.” In retail business, the best customers are the ones who come in and spend freely, not worrying about how much they are spending. If they like something, they are going to buy it, regardless of the cost. Poker is pretty much the same.

Spending capriciously

Opponents who play more pots and spend capriciously will be your best customers. They will be the ones that bring more money to your doorstep. The great thing about the business of poker is you can set up shop anyplace you wish. You’re not dependent upon any one location. You can move your business as you see fit.

You have the wonderful opportunity of choosing the table where you wish to play. You can case the tables at any casino to observe the players. You can even move to a different casino if none of the tables appeal to you as prospective storefronts. If you wish, you can choose to play a higher limit or a lower limit, if those games look profitable to you. Or you could be daring and start your own new game. If nothing looks appealing, you don’t have to open your business for the day. Just take a short vacation.

The important thing is choosing your poker location very carefully, because that means the difference between success and losing money.

Mike gave me some things to remember when choosing your poker location…

Scope out the tables and discover the one where the players are calling more often than they should be, and raising less. Callers mean profit for you. Try to stay away from the tables where there is an appropriate amount of raising. Raisers often are going to cost you more, because they tend to maximize their advantages. You want weak callers who won’t push their advantages.


A table filled with laughter means the players are having a good time and are probably less concerned with how much they are spending and more concerned with the entertainment value. Players who are serious and dull looking are usually considering decisions carefully and are less apt to be frivolous with their wagers.

So, in poker you can choose your customers, instead of waiting for your customers to choose you. You can choose that laugh-filled, fun table or the somber, quiet table. Who do you want to be your customers?

However, these choices may not be available in home games. That is one of the advantages in setting up business in casinos. You can choose your customers. Although most business don’t have a choice of locations, you can locate your poker business wherever you deem most profitable. You really are running a business and it’s up to you whether you succeed at it or not. So take the advantage that poker provides for you, and set up your shop at a fun, loose, and lively location. — DM

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