McHaffie: MCU lesson 064 / WPPC 2005

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 64: World Poker Players Conference 2005

The conference was held at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. The casino is breathtaking, set amongst the woods of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.  This annual all-day educational opportunity is hosted by Card Player Cruises and Mike Caro University of Poker.

Mike Caro, the “Mad Genius of Poker,” was emcee and kept everyone riveted with his stories and tips. All speakers were famous poker personalities and players. Lee Jones was first, with his presentation titled Heads-up Strategy for No-Limit Hold ‘em Tournaments. He covered “ES,” Equilibrium Heads-up Strategy for No-limit Hold ‘em that he and James Kittock developed. He explained that most of us don’t consider how drastically the value of our hands increases as the number of players diminishes. This is critical in a heads-up match. Lee unveiled a strategy for heads-up, no-limit play when the smallest stack size is less than 10 times the big blind. The small blind should go all-in more often than you’d expect, and the big blind should call frequently. While it didn’t surprise my mentor, who has analyzed heads-up play by computer, it did surprise me.

Pleasant learning

Barry Tanenbaum, a leading professional poker player, teacher, and columnist followed with Earning One Big Bet Per Hour. “The skills to keep in mind,” Barry says, “are playing tight, folding early, incorporating position and strategy, reading hands, avoiding traps, winning without the best hand, inducing calls and bluffs, and playing the players.” I understand why people flock to him to be privately tutored. He’s humorous and makes learning lively.

Mark Gregorich taught in high school, before poker. Now he’s a top player and married father of three who’s learned to juggle family and poker. His topic: Keys to Surviving in the Poker World. Mark advised simply, “Play when you have an edge, and quit when you don’t.” He showed why you’re doomed if you don’t apply that simple truth. He also stated, “Tilt can be your friend.” Other players’ tilt – he explained.

Chip and chair

During lunch, Mark Tenner told how the poker expression, “All you need is a chip and a chair” came about. Legendary world champion Jack Straus went all-in at a major tournament in 1982. As he was leaving, the players discovered one $500 chip that had gone unnoticed. Straus was told to sit back down. He ended up winning!

Kenna James, dressed in jeans and a western hat, is a red-hot performer on the professional poker tour. He looked as if he’d just ridden into town to play in an old west poker game. He addressed the topic of Principles of Tournament Poker.

Those included positional values, situational values, knowledge and application of hand values. He went on to say that you should first identify and then exploit your opponent’s mistakes. He said that you needed to practice willpower, discipline, and patience.

Kenna applied Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!”

I learned that Clonie Gowen, one of the favorite pros, was a member of her varsity basketball team. In 2003 she won the WPT Ladies Night event, the highest rated WPT show ever broadcast. She is a columnist for the All In magazine. Her presentation was Advantages of Being a Woman at the Poker Table and What Both Men and Women Need to Know About It.

Men’s egos

She stated, “Women have natural abilities and they need to exploit those, especially when playing poker against men.” Men’s egos, she said, will sometimes affect their judgment, although professional male players seem to have better control and are less likely to play the flirt or be a chauvinist. I bet men in the audience may be more wary when playing against a woman next time.

The conference finale was a Question and Answer session with experts Mark Seif, Linda Johnson, Clonie Gowen, and Mike Caro. Poker educator Jan Fisher was moderator.

Surprise guests and attendees were Men the Master, Cathy Liebert, Wendeen Eolis, Marsha Waggoner, and Jim McManus. For a learning experience, the World Poker Players Conference excels. I’ll be there next year. — DM

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