McHaffie: MCU lesson 015 / Winning the calls

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2004.

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 15: Being the player that wins the calls

Sales people don’t always sell in the same manner, or get the same results. All have developed styles intended to work for them, some getting the most sales and profit they desire, some not.

I’ll bet you’ve noticed the different ways that telemarketers, automobile sales people, and clothing sales people try to sell you on their products. It takes skill, not just luck, to get you to buy what they wish to sell. The skillful ones are going to make many more sales, which in turn results in more money to them.

Mike says that some people make the mistake of thinking that poker is an exception to that obvious truth. It isn’t! Poker is just like real life: The more convincing sales person that you are, the more successful that you will be, and the more money that will fill your pockets.

The sales person that makes buying the least painful, whether in real life or in poker, will make the most sales. Players in poker who can make losing less painful for their opponents are going to make more money.

Something to sell

Here’s how it works: In poker, you actually do have something to sell. Poker is largely about selling. At MCU, we learn that the main objective of a skillful player, holding a valuable hand, is to find a buyer. That player’s main goal is to “sell” his hand for the highest possible price. In poker you are surrounded by opponenets just anticipating the chance to pay the price. They are looking for a reason to “buy.” They want to make calls because they want in on the action.

Your opponents are just waiting for a good excuse to call. So the stage is set and making the sale should be easy, as long as you don’t make the mistake that so many would-be winning players have a tendancy to make. Too many players make the mistake of letting their opponents feel worse than necessary about losing to them. They make the experience unpleasant for the other players. If you complain when you’re getting beat or talk down to your opponent when he has made a bad play, making him feel stupid, then you are defeating your purpose. Losing needs to be a pleasant experience in order for you to make your future sales successfully.

You need to create an image that will put your opponents at ease, so that they will be willing to gamble recklessly. You want them to prefer playing against you, instead of the others at the table. When they prefer to loose to you, then you are the top sales person at the table and they go out of their way to “buy” from you. Therefore you can win the most money.

One disadvantage is that this comfortable image will make bluffing more difficult. However, bluffing isn’t your main objective here, especially against weak or average opponents, whose main mistakes are calling too often. You need to make it comfortable to those players, so that they will intensify their mistakes by buying into your sales pitch. They will be paying a higher price than they really need to pay to you personally and buying more often. This is because they like you and you are the best salesperson at the table.

Other players at the table will merely plod along, using their own failing techniques, wondering why you are achieving what they couldn’t. They aren’t going to catch on to the fact that you are actually making a sales pitch.

Remember, in poker you’re hopefully going to have many hands to sell. If you are a friendly and happy sales person, that makes the customers comfortable, and you are going to make more sales for higher prices than the competition. It will be easier for your opponents to lose to you.

The real key is to have an image that is fun and friendly, rather than silent and somber. You’ll definitely make more sales and more profit. You’ll be the #1 Sales Person at your table. The award is just waiting for you. — DM

Next entry in Lessons from MCU series


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