Unexplained tips for major poker profit

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1992) in Card Player magazine.

Rediscovered and added to Poker1 in 2014.

One nice thing about writing books is that if I want to go into detail about a poker concept, I simply add more pages. More detail, more pages — a simple formula. But it’s a formula that fails for this column, because the whole concept and the explanation must fit on this page.

Today, I’m asking you to accept these tips on faith. Many I’ve already explained elsewhere; others I’ll explain in the future. Here they are:

Don’t raise in the middle. On the last betting round, you usually should seldom raise with strong hands when you sit between the bettor and a third player still to act. Calling is usually more profitable. This applies to all forms of poker.

Use caution betting. When betting aggressively for value, make sure your opponents are calling with reluctant losing hands, not with reluctant winning hands.

I surrender. Many seven-card stud players go broke because they don’t realize that the main time to surrender a hand is on the early rounds of betting. Late surrendering (on the sixth and seventh cards) is often a mistake. That’s because the pot is usually large enough to justify your call. (Oops! That was an explanation. Sorry, I forgot.)

Players at a disadvantage. When players are unfamiliar with a game or with their opponents, they use up a lot of mental energy adapting to the environment. This means their poker decisions are much weaker. This goes for you, too.

Don’t play tighter. When your opponents are very loose, meaning they play a lot of hands you wouldn’t play, you should liberalize your standards somewhat and play more hands, also. If you play tighter, meaning more conservatively, you might still win, but you probably won’t win as much as you should.

Who are they really? Make sure you’re adjusting to the way your opponents play, not the way their images suggest they play. Adjusting to images is particularly dangerous against those rare flamboyant foes who actually play conservatively.

Should you bluff? If you have no hope of winning a showdown, simply divide the size of your bluff into the size of the pot, then add 1. If your bluff is $10 and the pot is $50, then you get 5 by dividing, and the answer is 6. That means you need to believe that this opponent will fold at least once for every six times you’d bluff in this exact situation; otherwise, your bluff is unprofitable.

Wait! How can this be? I deliberately left off the explanation and I’m still out of space! Life doesn’t figure! — MC

Published by

Mike Caro

Visit Mike on   → Twitter   ♠ OR ♠    → FaceBook

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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let's make sure it's really you and not a bot. Please type digits (without spaces) that best match what you see. (Example: 71353)