Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2007.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lessons from MCU
— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —
Lesson 102: Extra tips for profit
I can’t believe I’m writing my 102nd column for Poker Player. In the columns that preceded this I’ve passed along advice and tips from Mike Caro University of Poker intended to help you play better. We’ve discussed psychology and how to play your hands. We’ve chatted about tells and about attitudes that prevent damage to your bankroll. Today, I’m going to continue by covering another tip from MCU. And then I’m going to remind you of something you must never forget.
This advice applies when you’re in the dealer position (or “on the button,” as it’s commonly referred to) and it’s decision-making time. The other players have folded, except the player to your right, who has chosen to raise. Your automatic response shouldn’t be to fold. Why not? Well, you need to consider your opponent’s track record. Is he usually aggressive? If so, he probably raises often with hands that aren’t especially strong. Therefore, you aren’t going to need a significant hand to join in.
Mike goes on the say that not only should you not fold regularly, but you don’t have to just call, either. No, you can actually raise with medium-strong hands, such as 4-4 or K-J. This is especially important if the two players waiting to act in the blinds are timid and likely to fold. This strategy works when an opponent has made a meager raise in a no-limit hold ’em game or a fixed-sized raise in a straight-limit game. You’re attempting to intimidate the blinds and only play against the original raiser. When that happens the blinds are surrendered and that’s free money for which you and the original raiser can compete.
Remember, you’ll have positional advantage as the last one to act on all future betting rounds, which is always the case when you’re on the button. According to Mike, this is a very important scenario that is likely to occur frequently, so this is valuable advice to heed.
Mike states that you should always keep in mind that, “Opponents play too many hands.” Yes, once your opponents take a chair, poker fever attacks. They get so caught up in the excitement of the game, of winning pots and raking in the chips, that they become less rational about the hands they play.
If you play conservatively, you can beat most of these games when you’re engaged with these common opponents. You may not earn a great deal of money simply by being selective about the hands that you play, while opponents remain much less discriminating, but you can win marginally and consistently. You can frequently profit from these loose, careless players by only committing to a pot when you have a significant advantage and not taking unnecessary chances.
Playing tight will provide you with small profit in itself, but Mike’s extra tips account for the greatest bankroll growth. By venturing beyond mere tight play, you’ll find yourself taking more chances in an attempt to win more money. Keep in mind that as you add to your knowledgebase, your play tends to become fancier and the fluctuations in your bankroll increase. Mike says that using sophisticated techniques to chase down every last penny’s worth of profit will be “a roller coaster ride to riches.” When you take more chances, pursuing smaller edges, you aren’t as certain of day-to-day victory as when you play very conservatively.
He warns that if you start feeling like your game is off course, you should return to playing cautiously. And keep playing cautiously until you once again feel comfortable and confident.
You shouldn’t get so caught up in trying to be fancy by employing your newly learned techniques that you forget that you can win just by playing tight. No matter what happens, you always go back to square one and temporarily rely on that strategy. — DM