McHaffie: MCU lesson 105 / Don’t do it!

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 105: Don’t do it!

Let’s discuss some things you don’t want to do. Clearly, you don’t want to play hands you know are bad. Be patient, better ones will arrive. And, obviously, you shouldn’t call if you have the worst of it and need to get extra lucky to win.

A more subtle way of damaging your bankroll is continuing to play in a game you shouldn’t be in, when the urge to actually get up and relocate hasn’t happened. Tim was like that — too lazy to change seats or tables, yet willing to bemoan the fact that the game was bad. Relocating to a different chair or table, changing his position when an opening presented itself could’ve turned the tide for him.  All the while his chip stack was dwindling before his obstinate eyes.


Frank played in larger limit games than his wallet would allow. Had he played in games that he could easily afford, he might be adding to his chips instead of watching them vanish for fear of making calls too large for comfort.

Be careful about raising to eliminate players since many times you’re only removing your weak opponents and leaving the strong. Wrong move!

Usually if you’re participating in a raked game, the more opponents that are wagering, the less the rake is per player.  So, you shouldn’t raise for the purpose of discouraging players; you should raise only to build bigger pots.

Top pair

If you called on the flop with top pairs and on both the turn and the river aces fall, it’s not a tragic thing. The chances of someone holding an ace is now reduced, so you’re often better off. Folding shouldn’t be an automatic reaction, especially in limit hold ’em games. In no-limit games, those same two aces in conjunction with a significant wager often do signal a real threat.

Tight players have a tendency to bluff frequently on the times they do wager. They are choosier about the hands they play, but they tend to bluff almost as often as typical players. That means their ratio of bluffs to non-bluffs is unusually high. Remember: Tight opponents often bluffing.


There is no need to use fancy plays on weak players. They are already contributing to your bankroll. Sit back and enjoy it. Making them confused or self-conscious about their play makes them rethink their strategy and this can eat into your profit. Do you want them to play better? Of course not! So, don’t give them pointers, humiliate them or tease them. Make the game fun and they’ll continue lining your pockets.

You usually shouldn’t call a large no-limit wager with a medium pair, even though it’s higher than any cards that fell with the flop. For instance, if the flop is 7-5-2 and you hold a pair of 8’s, you usually shouldn’t call a substantial bet. Your opponents could easily be holding a bigger pair than your measly eights. Worse, even if you do have the better hand right now, the opponent could easily pair a higher card to beat you.


If you even mildly suspect you’re in a game where cheating is taking place, you should relocate immediately. It’s hard to focus on making good plays when you’re concerned about cheating.

Mike says that when he was young, he’d stay in an obviously dishonest game just to prove that he would play fairly no matter what, that he knew what opponents were doing, and that he wasn’t going to allow them to chase him away. He says that, back in his early twenties, he believed that this would make the thieves feel guilty and they’d reform or at least leave him alone. All the while, they were systematically cheating him out of chunks of his bankroll, laughing while doing it. Mike eventually learned that if he were going to stay there and continue giving them his money, they were going to diligently take it from him, despite realizing that he knew. They didn’t care!

Consider the previous dont’s before you do anything. — DM

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