MCU poker tip: Yes, you can play poker impaired!

There’s a common bit of advice in poker that is almost universally accepted, but it’s wrong. The advice is that you should never play poker if you’re tired, distracted, or have been drinking. The intent of this advice is good, but the application is terrible.

The truth is that in poker you profit when you have an advantage over your opponents. I can play poker without sleeping for days as long as I’m against opponents who are also impaired or who are much weaker than I am — even in my current condition. I can accept a drink at the poker table when I’m competing against players who are also drinking. Of course, you’ll do even better if they drink a lot and you don’t drink at all — but that might work to your disadvantage if they think you’re trying to take advantage.

Measure

You must measure your advantage at poker by your ability right now versus your opponents’ ability right now. Sometimes you can earn a lot more money by playing against poor opponents when you’re in a weakened condition than you can by playing against stronger opponents when you’re in top condition.

Remember, your long-term profit is always a result of the difference between your play and your opponents’ play. Playing great in a world-class game might not make you a winner. Playing fairly good in a weak game usually will. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

5 thoughts on “MCU poker tip: Yes, you can play poker impaired!”

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  1. i think playing with a little buzz gives you a little more confidence in playing those winning  marginal hands rather than throwing them away in a sober state of mind…..
     

  2. I like this tip, and in Vegas it is often easy to find that person who fails miserably at riding that fine line of “un-predictable” that Trevor speaks of. Potentially this may be a result of the general inhibitions that Vegas provides to many tourists. I’ve noticed that having a beer in front of me and acting careless will stimulate callers like crazy. I have learned that my good judgment decreases greatly as I try to enjoy an adult beverage.

    1. Hi, ChrisL —

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and making your first comment. Welcome to our Poker1 family.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  3. I’ve found that players who drink a little (enough for a “buzz”) actually tend to do better at the tables. I believe it’s because they play with less inhibitions, and less predictably. It’s a fine line to dance on though….

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