McHaffie: MCU lesson 038 / WPP Conference II

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 38: World Poker Players Conference II

On Saturday, November 6 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I attended the 4th Annual World Poker Players Conference. Mike Caro was the emcee. Four years ago this conference, the largest such gathering of serious poker players in the world, was founded by poker visionaries Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, and Mark Tenner.

Last issue, I shared what I learned from the first three expert speakers: Lee Jones, Daniel Negreanu, and Mike Caro. Today, I’m going to continue with the next two speakers, before concluding in the next issue with the remaining ones.

Mark Gregorich’s presentation was “How I’ve Survived as a Professional Poker Player for 10 years in Las Vegas.”

Mark’s positives and negatives

Mark stated that some of the positives of poker as a profession were having a flexible schedule, structuring your own time, playing the games that you wish, meeting people, traveling frequently, having the opportunity to make excellent money, and loving what you’re doing.

The negatives were occasionally being required to work at less desirable times – such as the graveyard shift, weekends, and holidays – having your family rely on you to pay the bills with your winnings, and being responsible for your own retirement, financial planning, and insurance.

Regarding money management, Mark pointed out that you need a solid poker strategy in order to earn money to manage in the first place, that you should focus on winning each session, and that success depends on playing when you have an edge and quitting when you don’t.

He urged you not to whine, no matter how bad the beat, and said you shouldn’t criticize your opponents’ play. You should focus on what you can control, getting the best out of every bet and learning something valuable every day.

When addressing tournaments vs. live games, Mark stressed that cash games will usually make more money. Tournaments can become costly, when you consider travel costs, the hours, the huge swings, and the fact that you need a substantial bankroll. Only a handful of pros make a decent living at playing tournaments, Mark said.

Barry’s six P’s

Barry Tanenbaum then presented: “Maximize your Poker Profits by Thinking Strategically.” His topic covered the six P’s.

He told us that the first P, position, is of utmost importance and that acting last is always an advantage. His second P was people, with all opponents acting differently, some being passive, aggressive, loose, or tight. He suggests that you sit and watch a game before you post, so that you can observe the players. How are they playing? Who is the tightest, loosest, weakest, most passive, most aggressive? Who does the most calling?

The third P was pasteboards, or cards. Barry states that the cards you hold are important, but just as important are the cards that your opponents think you hold.

The fourth P was predictability, or balance. What are your tendencies and your opponents’? Barry suggests that you play strong hands strong, and that you only vary play if it is clear that straightforward play is not working or if your opponents are reading you too clearly.

The fifth P that Barry discussed was pot odds. He covered the chances that your hands will stand up, chances it will be good if you make it, and the chances you will get paid off.

The sixth and final P that Barry outlined was planning. That integrates all of the previous concepts. He said that planning starts before you look at your hand and continues through the flop, the turn, and the river. He says you should ask yourself: “What kind of hand do I have? How many players do I want? Who do I want to be in the pot with? What pot size do I want? What are my chances of getting what I want?”

In the final lesson from the 2004 WPPC, I’ll conclude with the final three speakers: Mark Tenner, Linda Johnson, Mike Sexton and their presentations, and the Question and Answer panel that includes Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman, Roy Cooke, and George Epstein.  — DM

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