McHaffie: MCU lesson 104 / Advice to consider

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 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 104: Advice to consider

Here’s some various advice I’ve jotted down while talking to Mike.

It’s necessary to have a game plan to return to whenever you stray. See, sometimes you are going to drift from your plan of action because you’re adjusting your strategy to accommodate the way opponents are playing. Occasionally, this can be a good thing, if it’s deliberate and if you’re confident that you can return to your original strategy when the adjustments are no longer necessary.

But if you wander from your course in an attempt to impress your opponents with your poker expertise then you aren’t going to be concentrating on your game properly; you won’t be playing your best. Therefore the profit that you could be making probably isn’t going to materialize. When you adjust your play to fit a situation, it needs to be intentionally to make a profit, not to show off and impress. You have to know how far you can roam and when you need to return.

Appreciative audience

Advertising needs to be done to an appreciative and knowledgeable audience. If you’re attempting to portray a loose image to loose opponents by playing poor hands, you’re wasting your time. These opponents aren’t going to notice anything unusual by your tactic. Instead they’re merely going to think that you play the same hands that they do. You’ve wasted your time and energy and possibly a portion of your bankroll trying to impress someone unnecessarily with your loose image. Only advertise when it’s going to be noticed.

Don’t be apprehensive about raising with a weak hand on the last betting round if you suspect that your opponent is bluffing. Yes, I know that maneuver has you shaking in your shoes. Speaking in terms of a limit game, Mike says that “A raise costs no more in relative size than a call would cost if the pot were half as big.” Raising with a weak hand to drive away a slightly stronger hand is a rare tactic with a small edge overall. And small edges add up.

You should value bet medium hands more frequently when your opponent is worried that you might either have a much bigger hand or be bluffing. In that case you don’t need to fear a raise and, therefore, your value bet becomes more profitable.

Slippery Sandbag

Checking and calling on early betting rounds is what Mike terms a “Slippery Sandbag.” It can be applied quite successfully when playing against a frequent bluffer. You’ll make money from the bluffer by not spooking him too early. It’s wisest to wait until the final betting round to raise.

Mike warns that you should be cautious of raising from middle position unless you hold a significantly strong hand. Calling is your better move most of the time.

Close the call

When you’re playing limit poker you’ll discover that many locations require a cap (a 4-bet maximum) in multi-way pots. The last chance to raise is referred to as the “cap”. If you’re in last position, consider capping to gain psychological dominance, since you’re not afraid of further raises. Then opponents are likely to check to you on the next betting round, giving you a chance to decide whether to bet or check and take a free card.

If you’re sitting there with a medium hand trying to decide whether you should call or fold, one of the things to consider is if there’s a chance for a raise afterwards? Mike says if your call is going to “close the action,” meaning no one can act after you, then you should call, but if you face a possibility of being raised, because your action doesn’t close the betting, you should probably just fold.

Put those tips in action and you’ll collect extra pieces of profit. — DM

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