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 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 email@example.com.
Lessons from MCU
— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —
Lesson 58: Drilling deeper for profit
Let’s revisit some previous concepts and add a few new ones in our continuing quest to build a bigger bankroll. Here’s one of my favorite MCU lessons, based on the 34th of Mike’s Tuesday classroom sessions.
Mike teaches that thinning the field could do more harm than good, especially if you thin the field of weak players, leaving only strong ones. You want those weaker players in the game, because you’re going to make the most profit from them.
Call one more bet
However, he advises that there are instances when it’s right to thin the field. When a weak opponent has already called and you’re holding a medium-strong hand, with a strong opponent acting after you, you should often choose to reraise. Mike says, “This increases your profit by forcing the weak rivals to call one more bet, and often solidifies your later position, and chases away stronger opponents who otherwise might call the raise with hands that might beat yours.”
Mike suggests that another time to try thinning the field by reraising is when you suspect that the sophisticated opponent waiting to act after you could be holding a slightly stronger hand than you. You want to make it too pricey for him to continue.
Often you must follow a raise from a weak opponent who frequently raises the blinds or bring-in bets as a matter of course. Because such a raise is expected and doesn’t necessarily signify particular strength, Mike says that he’ll generally reraise whenever skillful players are waiting to act. This tactic will often discourage those skillful opponents from competing for the profit.
When weak opponents are waiting to act, and skillful opponents have already called, you usually shouldn’t reraise. You’re taking too big a risk against opponents that could be holding better hands. You also don’t want to take the chance of chasing out the weaker opponents. You want them to call, not fold.
Five times to reraise
Mike teaches that there are five main times when you might wish to reraise.
- When you’re holding a weak hand and you wish to drive out opponents.
- When you wish to gain more profit with better hands.
- When you’re trying to bluff
- When you wish to make a statement
- When you wish to gain a more powerful position for later bets during the same hand
He says that if these aren’t the reasons that you’re reraising, then you’re doing it purely for “ego” or “entertainment.” These are definitely not reasons to reraise.
Why are you reraising?
When you’re preparing to reraise, ask yourself why. Don’t reraise because it “feels” right. Remember, Mike teaches against being superstitiuous. You reraise because you’ve analyzed it carefully and it’s the right decision, not because the little guy with the pointy tail sitting on your shoulder says, “Go for it! It feels right to me.” You just don’t make decisions based on feelings. Those could be very costly “feelings” indeed. Unfortunately, professional poker players often succumb to feelings, even though they know better.
With a superior hand, if you’re in danger of an opponent folding, or you’re forcing an opponent to call a double raise, you usually don’t want to reraise. Just call and this may encourage others to call as well.
“You’re not going to believe this!”
Here’s a final tip that may pick up a few extra dollars now and then. Many times Mike will look at his cards, shake his head and declare, “You’re not going to believe this!” Then he’ll bet. That comment will usually make certain that opponents will call out of suspicion, but won’t raise out of fear. It allows him to bet medium-strong hands for profit, since he doesn’t fear a raise. In fact, he’s says he rarely gets raised because now opponents believe he’s either made something fantastic or is bluffing.
As we explore poker more deeply, we realize that there is much more to a winning formula than one realizes. — DM