McHaffie: MCU lesson 027 / Positive Poker

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2004.

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 27: Winning through positive poker

One of the most important messages that Mike teaches regarding your success at poker is you and your attitude. You need to have confidence! It’s vital for you to believe that you can be a winning player. It’s necessary to arrive at the tables every day with a “controlled winning attitude.”

Do you recall the questions that we handled previously? Here they are: Do your decisions really matter in poker? Will it matter if you play a hand, or don’t play a hand? Will it matter if you bet, call, check or raise? Yes, absolutely every decision made in poker does matter! Good decisions pay off! And, that’s precisely why you can win!

I was listening to Mike’s most popular motivational audio tape, Positive Poker, and he says, “Good decisions beat bad decisions. And in poker, good players beat bad players… It’s OK to play good all the time… The main cause of failure among serious poker players is simply that they don’t play their best game all the time.”

Most players, at some time in their life, will be tempted to play less than their best. Yes, luck can play a part in short term winning, but most of the time luck isn’t quite enough. If you rely on luck a good deal of the time, then you will probably be a loser. It’s essential that you strive to play your best all the time, not most of the time.

Logical decisions

You should decide that, from this moment on, every decision you make will be in focus! Whether in poker or real life, decision that you make matter! Every decision made will have an outcome, whether good or bad.

You can’t let emotions dictate your actions. When you do, bad decisions are the outcome. Decisions must be made logically, not emotionally! Sometimes, you will find that everything you do goes wrong. Ah, that’s when it’s easiest to cease caring, to give up, to let emotions rule your decisions. That’s when you will call bets you normally wouldn’t have called. You’ll probably find yourself playing hands that you wouldn’t have even considered. Professional players call that “going on tilt.”

When you go on tilt, every decision is out of focus. It can get very expensive, when this happens. You’ll be a goner as a poker player! When you’re emotionally involved in a game, then you’re out of focus and you aren’t going to make the appropriate decisions. Your chances of winning are extremely slim.


Don’t lose your advantage! You have to commit to yourself, prior to going into a game, or a situation in life, that you’re going to make the best decisions, all the time! If you lose control, you lose your advantage, then your image as a confident player fades, which results in your opponents acquiring the confidence to strip you of your chips.

One of Mike’s most important rules is – never complain about bad luck at the table. No one wishes to hear you whine and complain about your bad luck, your pitiful life, or how much money you’ve lost. When you do this, you’re giving your opponents the advantage, the confidence they need to stomp you! No one truly cares to listen to a complainer!

Complaining shows negativity and gives your opponents the courage to go after you and beat you, when normally they wouldn’t, simply because now they feel that they can. Conversely, when you are confident, your opponents will usually play worse.


If you begin to lose confidence, to feel unlucky, here is a quote from Mike that might help, “I am a Lucky Player and a Powerful, Winning Force surrounds me.” Burn those words into your memory. Say them over and over. They’re your mantra! It’s a powerful phrase to remember during difficult times. The words won’t make you luckier, because they aren’t about superstitions, which I and all of Mike’s students are taught is taboo. They are about seeding your mind with the right winning attitude and conveying it to your opponents.

Mike believes that you are entitled to win. Go into the game with confidence in yourself and you’ll find that winning comes easier. — DM

Next entry in Lessons from MCU series


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