McHaffie: MCU lesson 084 / Poker success for women

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2006.

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 84: Poker success for women

Women made their names in poker before its rise in popularity. Wendeen Eolis was the first female to finish in the money at the WSOP. Jennifer Harman has two WSOP bracelets. Linda Johnson, Kathy Liebert, Cyndy Violette, Annie Duke and others have distinguished themselves with bracelets and world championships.

In 1986 Mike Caro wrote a poker book titled Poker for Women – A Course in Destroying Male Opponents at Poker … and Beyond. Below is my take on the book.

Men have preconceived notions about women. So, women, if you will change those responses they are expecting, you can gain the advantage.

Can women profit from poker as much as men? Mike says, “Yes, women just need to examine the truth and accept the challenge, they can win much more money than men by turning the prejudices to their advantage.”

Mike suggests that women can check-raise profitably, because the action doesn’t match the stereotype. Many women are successful at confusing men in everyday life; just think what they could do at the poker table.

People watching

Women tend to be more conscious of their surroundings. We have a knack for people-watching. We feel our opponent’s anger, frustration, pain or despair. Mike says this is good, but we shouldn’t allow these feelings to affect our  play.

In poker and in life, both women and men must analyze and make right decisions. The same thing applies with poker. Mike advises that you play “only those hands which are in your best interest.”

Always consider where you’re sitting in a game. Position matters. You want the aggressive players and loose players to the right of you, weaker or conservative players to your left. If you have a chance to observe a game prior to taking a seat it gives you the opportunity to check out the competition and determine how they play.

Mike advises that you should often try to sit to the right of other women, especially if they’re serious players. While at the 2006 WSOP I overheard a woman comment that “playing against the ladies is tougher than against the men.” She observed that women seem to be more brutal and ruthless against each other. You’ll need to play differently against women who take the game seriously than against those who are playing recreationally. Of course, it’s the same against men. Don’t be the victim of stereotyping women yourself. Leave that mistake for the men.

If you can pull off the sexy, flirtatious image with men, then go for it. It can be a distraction to male opponents. However, if you’re from my era or older, that might not work well, so you could go for the successful, businesswoman image, or maybe you’d just prefer being “one of the guys.” You have many choices about how to conquer men; use whatever is comfortable and works for you.


Women should give the impression of confidence by actions and tone of voice, especially when betting and raising. Don’t seem hesitant, wary, or doubtful. Men can be domineering enough without us giving them reasons to push us around. You don’t want to appear threatening, either. That’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Mike says that often women can get by with things men couldn’t simply because a woman “doesn’t know any better.” We just don’t “get it.” Some of you probably already have that fine tuned.

Now, get this women, Mike doesn’t think that we are good liars, and says that we need more practice in order to be able to lie as well as a businessman. Hmmm? He also says that we should be nice to the men on our left, making them less motivated to maximize their positional advantage. Smile pretty and they may reward you with weaker opposition.

Mike advises, “Act decisively on the information you discover and claim the rewards. Don’t ever let your goal grow misty with compassion.” Victory is your goal. — DM

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