An important warning to my friends in poker!

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1993) in Card Player magazine.

Updated and enhanced 2014

I can beat most upper-middle-limit games in my sleep. Oh, gosh! You’re going, to think I’m bragging. Darn it, I already typed the words, and now it’s too late.

I’m not saying I could beat these games in my sleep simply because I’m a brilliant player (although I thought about saying it). All serious poker players can beat these games in their sleep! You. Your friends. Your dog. Anyone. You won’t always win, but you’ll have so much of an edge that you can play on automatic pilot (which is what I mean by “in your sleep”) and eventually win.

Tough times for pros? Which limits am I talking about? From $20/$40 up to, and maybe including, $75/$150 limit Which games? All of them! Why are these games suddenly so easy? Well, they’re not suddenly so easy. They’ve been getting easier and easier every year. I first wrote those words in 1993. And the strange thing is, the trend continues! Are pros finding these games easier to beat? No! Many pros are finding them harder to beat.

The warning. Tell me when you’re confused. Good. Now let’s talk about a very serious matter affecting you and your bankroll. In 1993, at my poker seminar at the Bicycle Club Casino near Los Angeles, I projected this warning on the screen:

Most serious players are becoming too creative
They’ll go broke unless they return to basics.

And I’ve been stressing that fact worldwide for more than two decades since.

This next part is just between us. There’s been much serious material on poker strategy written in those decades. It hasn’t just come from me, and a lot of it is powerful and credible. Unfortunately, it often dwells on very unusual or alternative strategy — utility bets, semi-bluffs, value bets. All these options, sadly, have now addicted most otherwise skilled players in upper-middle-limit games. They don’t seem to realize how far they’ve strayed from the basics. Instead of using these tricky high-powered weapons judiciously, appropriately, and profitably, they are currently using them routinely, inappropriately.

Why? Their reasons are complex. They want to impress opponents. They seek to amuse themselves. They feel a psychological need to find ways to prove their “superiority” to themselves. Who really knows?

But that’s why it’s possible for any astute player to sit in the midst of this Harlem-Globetrotter style of poker and, by playing a brilliantly basic game, defeat not only their average opponents, but also their strong ones! What I’m saying is that — and I’m saying this straight at you — if you continue with this compulsion to be creative without knowing the reason, your bankroll might die. That’s my message. That’s my warning. That’s all! — MC

Published by

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.


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  1. Still working on the Basic …….. I hope to get Brilliantly basic soon. By the way this article is one of your best in my opinion.

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