McHaffie: MCU lesson 022 / Focusing

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 22: Focusing on only one thing

Have you noticed how hard it is to try to do several things at once? You worry when you give just one thing your undivided attention, fearing some of the other items may suffer because of it. You stress out. There’s an answer to this problem. Mike calls it the “Mad Genius Method” – ignore almost everything.

Set aside a certain time of day to focus on just one thing. Ignore the fear that something will be forgotten or neglected. If you concentrate on just getting the one thing, then you’ll be surprised to find that the other things will fall into place easier, too.

The right way to learn

The biggest proving ground is poker. If you try to concentrate on too many things, you have a difficult time mastering anything. How confusing would it be if you tried to learn many forms of poker at once? For the same reason, you should only concentrate on one element of poker at a time. It’s the right way to learn.

Take tells. If you watch every player at the table, you’re going to not only get a crick in your neck and quite possibly a headache, but you’re going to be overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead, try focusing on just one person, preferably the one across the table from you, who’s easiest to see. Or even focus on just one action. The results will be magical.

Poker exercises

Here are some exercises from a course Mike presented at Hollywood Park Casino. Just remember, don’t concern yourself with everything. The trick is to do one thing at a time.

  • Try this. When you place a bet, be strong, decisive, and even slightly excited. This makes your opponents think you have a very strong hand and they may fear what you’re holding. Mike says, “This tends to make them reluctant to raise with marginal advantages, thereby they surrender some of the profit that could have been theirs.”
  • Try this. When a middle- or late-position player is the only one to enter the pot, raise with a moderately strong hand in late position. This will help your aggressive image at the same time it often increases your positional advantage by driving out players that would act after you in later rounds of betting.
  • Try this. Spend one whole session without raising, except when you’re the last to act with a strong hand on the last betting round. Take notes and later think about how this worked for you. This isn’t the most profitable way to play poker, but it is the easiest way to understand how “just calling” can fit into your game plan.
  • Try this. On hands that you would normally only call with, try raising. Observe how the table reacts to this and how profitable (or unprofitable) it is for you. Be sure and keep notes to reflect on later.
  • Try this. When you aren’t involved in a hand, watch what is happening around you. When you’ve witnessed a player winning, go over the action that got him to the showdown. This will give you insight as to what hands your opponents play and how they play them. It will also teach you that your opponents don’t always make logical decisions – something you should seldom assume.

The method that wins

Remember to do just one thing on the list for that session. The rest will take care of itself. It’s called the “Mad Genius Method.” It really will enhance your game and help you to be more profitable.

Just focus on one thing at a time.  — DM

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