Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2008.
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 email@example.com.
Lessons from MCU
— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —
Lesson 121: Favorite advice and a book
Recently I assisted Mike in putting together a new book, Mike Caro’s Most Profitable Hold ‘em Advice: The Complete Missing Arsenal. It was quite interesting how he and Avery Cardoza, his publisher, assembled all of Mike’s concepts, strategies, and knowledge into a 408 page educational text book.
Here are some of my favorite points from his book. Early in the book he refers to Kenny Rogers and “The Gambler.” We all know that song, but do you realize that one of the tips that Kenny sings about is wrong? Don’t count your chips while you’re sitting at the table. Think about it, if you don’t count your chips, it’s like a football coach not looking at the scoreboard. You don’t know how well or how poorly you’re doing. And how can you knowledgably bet? Do you have more chips than your opponent? What’s the most you’ll have to call if an opponent reraises all-in? How can you intimidate your opponents if you have a puny stack of chips? Not counting until you leave the table, as the song advises, might mean your exit will be sooner than you think.
Mike goes into great detail covering the blinds. You’ll find yourself playing more hands from the blinds than elsewhere. You’ll also be attacking the blinds more frequently from late positions. Some concepts covered are: The importance of your image in the blinds; adapting the traits of the opponents in the blinds; blind stealing; appropriate times to call from the big blind and small blind; when to raise and reraise; how you should play the small blind against the big blind and vice versa. The book really drives home how complex blind play is and how much extra money you can make by making the right decisions.
I’m fascinated with the image concept. Mike is the “Mad Genius of Poker” and his image doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable. Instead, it’s fun, unpredictable, and memorable. There are those who present an obnoxious image and will go out of their way to ridicule their opponents. Who would you prefer to be sitting next to: a pleasant, cheerful person or a loud-mouthed irritant that is going to make the game miserable for you? How long are you going to endure that annoying person? Well, if you’re that person, weak opponents that you’re treating so shabbily probably aren’t going to stick around very long. They’ll move to a different, more enjoyable table, taking the profits you could be reaping with them. Maybe.these bad boy images works for these players for one or two hands. But, don’t they realize that their chosen image is costing them money in the long run? On bad nights, even you find it easier to lose your money to a pleasant opponent than to an obnoxious one, right?
Before you consider establishing an image and making it work for you, it’s necessary to know the basics of poker: when to call, raise, bet and fold? Yes, you need knowledge of the game before you can apply psychology or you’ll end up doing the wrong things. You may understand your opponents, but unless you understand your cards, you won’t know how to use psychology to great advantage. Once you’re comfortable with your knowledge of the game, then you can successfully create an image that is suitable for your personality and will work psychologically against your opponents. Keep in mind that weak and average opponents are going to garner you the most profits.
Mike also discusses the amount of hold ‘em hands that you should play. It seems to be a common concern, because you’ll often overhear someone commenting on how many hands a person plays or doesn’t play. Some are clearly folding, raising, or calling hands. Then there are a whole lot of break-even hands that Mike calls “borderline.” If you’re presenting an image of a loose player, you’d play many of these borderline hands. Now, your friend, Teddy, may be a more conservative player, choosing not to risk his bankroll on these hands. Mike says it’s likely that Teddy will make about the same money by not playing those hands as you do by playing them. You could play all of them and he could play none of them, and you’d still fare about the same. Amazing, isn’t it?
These are just a few of the topics Mike covers in his new book. There are many more educational concepts, tips, and even detailed charts for you to study. My biggest learning experience, though, was in seeing the book created and understanding which advice was most important. — DM