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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lessons from MCU
— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —
Lesson 141: Tidbits of knowledge
Here are a few tidbits of knowledge I have acquired from MCU over the past five years.
Can you recognize a conservative or loose player by the way he or she is dressed? Yes, quite often you can. Conservative players will attire themselves in conformist ways. Although there are some exceptions, you won’t usually see them wearing bright or gaudy outfits. They aren’t going to be making a glaring fashion statement.
Conservative players bluff infrequently and rarely play unusual hands. They sometimes dictate a strict set of rules to themselves from which they will seldom stray, refusing to take needless risks. They are also tidy with their chips. You won’t find their stacks tumbled in a messy heap on the table before them.
The players who are attired in wild colors, boast an overabundance of jewelry, sport recent tattoos, or wear strange clothes are generally going to play more liberally, calling and bluffing more often. They are often more talkative and may inadvertently impart information about their hands when they are betting — information that you may find helpful in determining your course of action. Of course, you should also be aware that this may occasionally be an image they are using to trap you.
I’ll speculate that none of what I just say surprises you. But you need to remember to notice how opponents are dressed and react accordingly, at least until their actions dictate a different strategy.
Next tidbit: Quite often, if opponents are voluntarily giving you information in a kidding manner, they are telling you the truth. They’re just hoping you won’t believe them. Mike said you’d be amazed how many times an opponent will say, “I’m bluffing,” in an insincere tone of voice and actually be bluffing!
If you desire your opponent to call, do almost anything to achieve your goal. You see, your opponents are waiting for the opportunity to call; they came to the table to call. They are naturally suspicious, so all that is essential to provoke a call is squirm in your seat, reach for your drink, adjust your chips, or clean your glasses. Anything you do can make an opponent suspicious and that often induces a call. Try it and you’ll see!
OK, so you’ve been at the table for quite some time, and a new player joins the game. Now, usually this player has determined upon taking a seat, that he is going to play conservatively, taking few risks. His discipline may not last long, but in the beginning this player is going to be easier to bluff, so take advantage.
Don’t antagonize the player to your left. Since you act before he does, you are at a distinct disadvantage if this person makes you a target. It is imperative that you befriend this person. Buy him a soda, encourage him to talk about his family, laugh with him. With this opponent as your new buddy, he will be reluctant to upset you, or cause you distress. He will voluntarily choose not to take maximum advantage of his position.
Here’s a juicy morsel! Women generally call more frequently than men. Why is that? Well, probably because they were burned too often by men who try to bluff them simply because they’re women. Mike says women should call more often than men — and, correctly, they do.
Mike says that senior players are often profitable targets for your bluff. Why? Older players are typically more conservative. They’ve been around the block a few times and have had their wild and crazy moments, so they aren’t out to prove anything anymore. Young players are more difficult to bluff. They’re generally more daring, ready to call and raise rather than surrender. Beware of whom you are trying to bluff!
Don’t expect these guidelines to be universal. Use them as starting points and adjust your expectations as you observe how opponents actually play. Hopefully, you’ll find these tidbits of information useful the next time you join a game. — DM