McHaffie: MCU lesson 115 / Conservative games

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 115: Will the conservativeness of a game change?

You’ve just taken a seat at a poker table only to discover, to your dismay that your opponents are very serious, conservative players. They aren’t laughing and enjoying the game, so you might not realize the profits that you would from your more reckless, fun-loving opponents. In fact, you are surrounded by solemn, silent players who take the game far too seriously. It doesn’t sound like a fun time to me. I think I’d be more inclined the next time to observe the game first before sitting down.

Now what?

Okay, so you’ve realized too late what you’ve gotten yourself into. Now what? Should you jump up and retreat, with a sigh of relief, at the first possible opportunity? Or, should you practice patience and wait it out? Well, Mike says that tight games will eventually become looser, just as loose games will eventually become tighter. Maybe you can help to lighten the game by chatting and joking with the other players, hoping that they’ll relax and play a less-focused strategy, thereby allowing the profits to start flowing your way.

Also, you should keep in mind that some of the players may have recently joined the game prior to you sitting down. So, maybe they have made a decision to play their best and tightest game. Hopefully, that promise to themselves will only last about 20 to 30 minutes. Or, maybe your opponents are scoping out the game and the players, trying to determine how they are going to play in relation to their opponents’ style of play.


While you are engaged against these dull, tighter opponents, bluffing should work in your favor. Against loose players bluffing isn’t necessary and can actually cause you to lose money.

If you do choose to remain in this tight game, it will at some point become looser. Many times the conservative players realize the game is too tight for their liking and they’re not making the profit that they would from a looser game, so they have a tendency to desert these games in search of the more rewarding loose games. Guess who may replace these players? Yes, the weaker, wilder players who are willing to take risks.


Yes, the waiting paid off! Now you can laugh and have a good time all the while lining your pockets with the winnings from these looser players. Weak, loose players are a poker player’s salvation. If it weren’t for those types of players, where would your profit come from?

Now, had you observed the game prior to taking a seat you would have noticed the tight, serious play and could have made better use of your time by searching out a game where laughter abounds and the players are loose. Then you could have reaped the monetary rewards quicker and enjoyed the experience at the same time. But, you didn’t.


Mike mentioned that another thing you should consider about the game you choose to become involved in is whether you’re going to recognize the earning potential that you are striving for. If you are earning approximately $60 an hour at the table you’re currently playing and you have the opportunity to change tables and earn $90 an hour, that’s a profit of $30 that you are denying yourself each hour because you didn’t take advantage of a table change.

That’s a significant difference in your hourly wage. If you were a medical assistant and you had an opportunity to earn $30 an hour more by changing jobs, you would probably jump at the chance. So, why continue participating in a game that isn’t paying you enough?

So, if you’re patient, tight games will eventually loosen. Also keep in mind loose games will in due course tighten up as the weak players make too many mistakes, wipe out their bankrolls, and leave, often to be replaced by tighter players. It works both ways. — DM

Next entry in Lessons from MCU series


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let's make sure it's really you and not a bot. Please type digits (without spaces) that best match what you see. (Example: 71353)