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 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 33: More about image and profit
In my last column, I discussed the benefits of what Mike terms “a wild image.”
His image at the poker table borders on a fun, but friendly form of insanity. It’s an image that he has perfected so well that it comes naturally and smoothly to him.
I’ve never tried to use that image myself. But, as I related last time, I got the privilege of seeing Mike put it into action on the East Coast last month. Mike’s success with it was astounding. As the “Mad Genius,” he successfully conquered several games of poker, and amazingly enough, while he was doing that he made his opponents laugh and enjoy giving him their money.
Today I want to give you some other perspectives about images. Why is it important to have an image at all? That is simple. No matter what your profession, unless you live on a remote island without any human contact, you will be influenced by people you meet. People you meet will be influenced by you. How you portray yourself matters. Within the first few moments of meeting someone you have formed an opinion about them, as they have formed one about you. That first impression that they get can be helpful or damaging. Whether you’re trying to motivate someone to help you in your job, or you go out to purchase a car, or you’re trying to sell a product or an idea, your image and how they perceive you is extremely important.
Mike teaches that how you portray yourself matters more in poker than in most other endeavors. Players prefer some opponents to others when deciding which ones to call, which ones to bet into, and which ones to bluff. And these preferences are largely based on the opponent’s image.
Now I’m going to tell you a couple of bad things about that wild and insane image that Mike uses so successfully. One is that you may not feel at ease using it. This may not be an image that you could easily and comfortably pull off. Mike says that he doesn’t recommend the image for most players, despite its power. This is because too many people feel uncomfortable when they are on the poker stage performing. If they try to act against their nature, often the attempt will fall flat. They won’t be able to pull it off naturally enough to seem likeable. They will seem phony. If this is so, then the attempt won’t have the results expected.
Also, when you use the wild image, Mike points out that you won’t be able to bluff as successfully, because opponents are happy to call you and join in the fun.
Another problem with this image is that many people don’t know how to use it. They don’t understand when to say what. If you just start talking and being silly, it could be the wrong time and have disastrous results. Sometimes it’s just better to be silent and keep a poker face.
Mike doesn’t recommend using this image until you’ve mastered it. You have to master the basics of the image, the ability to use it comfortably to convince others that this is you, this is how you really are. Most players will never be able to master this image, because they aren’t comfortable acting in this manner, so they will have to adopt a different image, one that is more compatible with their nature.
Almost everyone in the poker world today has an image. They portray themselves in one form or another, and may be well-known for their image, even if their act isn’t deliberate.
In order to succeed, you must find the image that works for you, and finesse it. Mike’s image works for him, because he is comfortable using it and that is the persona that he portrays. That is who he is to his opponents. — DM