McHaffie: MCU lesson 152 / 2009 Seminars

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2009.

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 152: 2009 Caro and Brunson Seminars

The Mike Caro and Doyle Brunson Power Poker Seminars began with energetic audience participation as “the Mad Genius of Poker” pranced back and forth across the stage, his hair in its usual disarray.

Mike pointed out once again that decisions matter. Good decisions equal bigger bankrolls. He went on to explain that this is a concept that can be used in everyday life as well as at the poker table.

He discourages participating in roulette or craps, as you aren’t going to see professional, career players in those games, but you will see skilled players making a successful living at poker.

Your opponents won’t suffer the anguish of losing to you as severely if they like you. That’s why a fun, jovial player often invites weaker calls and makes more money. Unfortunately, there are players who are sarcastic and petty and will make losing an agonizing experience for their opponents. If you do that, you only penalize yourself.

More hands

Another tip Mike had for his audience was: If the game is loose, you should involve yourself in more hands. The same is true if the game is tight — you need to take part in more hands. The difference is that in loose games, you should liberalize your opening hand standards and in tight games you should bluff more often.

Should you be holding a meager hand, but you’re pretty certain that your opponent’s hand isn’t any better than yours, go ahead and bet. As Mike says, “You don’t want to risk a showdown.” Be the aggressor here.

When you’re playing online poker, being deceptive isn’t going to be productive or profitable. Do you think that your opponents are actually going to notice? Most won’t. And unfortunately this is an error in judgment that many players make. Being cute and imaginative online isn’t going to be a profitable course of action. Opponents simply don’t pay as much attention to your behavior as they do when face-to-face in a casino.

When playing online, if you notice a quick response, it isn’t necessarily a strong tell, but merely a small clue. Don’t overvalue those so-called “online tells.” If there is an immediate call from an opponent, he has probably pre-checked the call button, which usually means he has a moderate hand – too strong to fold, too weak to raise with, no matter what. If there is a quick raise in a limit game, that often means that your opponent has pre-chosen that decision and has an impressive hand that he’s going to raise with regardless of other players’ actions.

When your online opponent instantly checks, you might be daring and challenge him, as he probably has a weak hand and is just going through the moves, until someone bets and he can retreat with some measure of dignity.

Mike pointed out that you “won’t double your profit by playing two games at once online.” You’ll lose focus and each game will be less profitable than if you had only been playing one. You still might win more by playing two games – or even six games – but there are diminishing returns, the more you play.

Don’t act on it

When you notice a tell, do not announce that you observed it. And wait before responding. That way, the opponent won’t be alerted to that tell and may exhibit it again in the future.

Mike’s most potent tip was Tip #2, “The greatest secret to winning at poker is to play your best game all the time!”

Once again Doyle Brunson was available for questions and answers. One of the first questions dealt with cheating online. Doyle addressed security measures at reputable sites designed to identify partnerships and prevent dishonest play. I know that Mike has always stressed honesty amongst players. And both Mike and Doyle have predicted even more advanced methods for protecting games online.

Another question to Doyle involved tournament games versus cash games, if you have a limited bankroll. He replied that tournaments will deplete your bankroll faster, so if your bankroll is puny, cash games might be a better choice.

Doyle stated that although poker is an important factor of your life, you have a life outside of poker that involves family and friends and you should never forget that.

Stay tuned for the next two seminars, June 27, and 28 at the Rio. I hope to see you there! — DM

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