McHaffie: MCU lesson 053 / Winners in poker and life

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2005.

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 53: Winners in poker and life

Lots of people have decided, from watching televised poker tournaments, that they can make a living at poker. Kids in college are attracted to poker. Just go to any tournament and you’ll see how their numbers have grown. Mike says years ago there were tournaments with only 30 players. You won’t see that now.

Some players won’t be lucky and will discover that it costs too much to play in the tournaments. Besides entry fees there are charges for hotels, dining, gas, car rental, and airfare. They pack up and go back to the life they’re used to. It’s more comfortable being Jane waiting tables, Edward the doctor, Joe the mechanic, or Susie the psychologist.

Sticking it out

Then there are those who succeed. Because the right games dropped into their laps, the right cards were dealt to them, or they made the decision to stick it out and try to be a success, their lives were changed forever. They had the determination and the confidence in themselves to sit at the tables for hours on end, and make quality decisions about their hands. Those are the people that reap the rewards.

At Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy, Mike teaches that the cards probably won’t break even in your lifetime and that you shouldn’t try to get even for a poker session or in a real life experience. You will probably get even and ahead in the long run, but have patience.

Mike also says don’t go out of your way to get even with someone who bluffed you or did you wrong.  He says it doesn’t matter who provides your profits, as long as somebody does. See, that’s a new concept for me. I was used to getting even when someone did me wrong.

A step forward

What you should concentrate on is making the best quality decisions every minute, every day of your life. If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to get further in poker and in life. There will be losses and setbacks, of course, whether in poker or life, but don’t let it deter you. Don’t let it destroy your confidence. Trying to get even is a step backward. Mike says, “You are always where you are, and every step forward from that point is simply a step forward. Period.”

When you suffer a setback, whether in poker or in real-life, don’t make it worse. It’s so easy to do. We respond or react in a negative way to a situation when we shouldn’t, because we’re feeling so miserable that we don’t think it can get any worse. It just doesn’t register anymore. I can tell you from experience, it can and will get worse if you let it. Mike calls this crossing the threshold of misery – when more bad things happen, but they don’t make you feel any worse, because your pain is already maximized.


How many people would be winners in poker and life, if they didn’t make situations worse or make the wrong decisions? If people didn’t let anger, frustration, indifference, boredom, self-pity affect their lives, where would they be? Do you think that what you do or say today will have an impact on tomorrow? You bet it will! You need to make a promise to yourself now, today, that whatever happens, however you are provoked, you will never make matters worse.

Many times we make decisions based on how much we have invested in the pot or a business deal or our life. Everyone has. I’ve done it. But Mike teaches that it doesn’t really matter how much you have invested. All that matters is what the value of the “pot” is now and what it will cost you to pursue it.

What matters is to make profitable decisions, from this point on, over and over.  — DM

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