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 109: Questions often asked of Mike
Many questions are asked of Mike about poker and I have chosen to address a few today.
1. Should you learn other forms of poker, or just concentrate on one?
Mike teaches that you should learn many forms of poker. He says that with knowledge of many variations, you’re always able to choose the most desirable game at any time. If you’re waiting for a hold ’em seat to open up, you might play in a lowball game. Or if the game where that billionaire has decided to unload a couple million happens to be seven-card stud, you don’t have to sit on the sidelines, knowing you can’t play that game on a professional level.
In hold ’em, you’ll probably have fewer losses than you would with other forms of poker and your profits will usually be more regular. Keep in mind that with any form of poker, if you can play against unskilled players, your winnings can increase.
Once you’ve learned the various forms of poker and become confident in your abilities a good way to profit from that education is to visit new casinos in your area. Look for weak opponents and novices, whenever you can find them. Remember to play your best game all of the time, and you’ll reap rewards from your less skilled opponents. If you stick with the same weak cast of opponents every day, eventually the games will become more difficult and less profitable, because those players will either become more accomplished or lose their bankrolls. When that occurs, switch games.
2. In which forms of poker does position matter?
The more often you can act last, the more you’ll win. Hold ’em, lowball, and draw poker are forms of poker where position is most important. In stud games, where the first bettor is determined by high exposed cards, seating position is less important. But it still matters.
3. If you’re losing, what should you do?
If you’re playing a losing strategy and don’t care enough to improve, consider quitting. If you’re consistently losing, wouldn’t you want to know why? I would. I’d begin by reading books, watching videos, attending classes, or consulting a pro. There are many ways to improve your game, but if you aren’t willing to learn why you’re losing then Mike says quitting may be your most profitable decision.
4. Should you play deceptively?
Mike warns that deception isn’t a profitable maneuver if you’re merely trying to show off. You should only be deceptive if you think it will be profitable. Many players, once they become educated about poker, are eager to demonstrate their abilities and expertise. They can’t resist. So, they’ll make strange plays. If you don’t have a good reason to play a hand deceptively, don’t.
5. If you have a small bankroll, how should you play?
When playing with a small bankroll, you should be more guarded about the risks you take, which means that you should player tighter. You’re trying to build your inadequate bankroll, not deplete it suddenly.
6. What if an opponent admits that he is bluffing? Is he?
Many times when someone confides to you that he’s bluffing, he is. Mike says that when players are talking to you about their hands, they are usually being honest and hoping you won’t believe them. Sometimes, though, the player is lying to you. So, beware.
7. If first to act, which hands aren’t advisable?
Mike warns against playing certain hands if you’re the first to act in hold ’em. Among those hands that you should be cautious of are 9-8 suited, 8-7, and 7-6 suited. He says these hands are overrated by many players. Too many skilled players choose to play these cards merely to find that they aren’t profitable.
So, to sum it up –Proficiency at several forms of poker is a plus. Position is important, even in stud games. Knowledge brings profit. Deception needs a reason. Small bankrolls require tight play. Players admitting to bluffing usually are. And some popular hold ’em hands are less profitable than they seem. — DM