Fast 2014-09-22: Caro proven wrong? Say it ain’t so!

“Added Fast” purpose: Allow Mike Caro to post spontaneous thoughts, tips, and information.

  • Includes Mike’s notes to himself.
  • Titles begin with “Fast,” plus date.
  • If expanded later, link is at bottom.

Also see:  → Why a Poker1 “Fast” category?  |  → All Poker1 “Fast” entries

Okay, so today publishes a piece by Steve Ruddock praising me and saying that I belong in the Poker Hall of Fame. (You can go here to read it: Poker Legends: Mike Caro Earned the Title “The Mad Genius of Poker”)

Fine so far. I like praise and I agree with the PHOF part. I’m not modest. But I read down through the favorable stuff and I come to this:

“A lot of the theories Caro espoused over the years are looney tunes (utter hogwash) and have been proven wrong, but Caro was one of the few people who was willing to test conventional wisdom and test it in new ways, such as his use of computer simulations.” (See update note at bottom of this entry.)

Huh? WTF … no, wait! WTF won’t suffice in this case. This requires a full “What the fuck?”

Guy to guy

Steve, Steve — I’m talking straight at you Steve Ruddock, heart to heart, guy to guy, and your reply is welcome below. Exactly which theories that I’ve espoused have been proven wrong? Who proved them wrong?

You see, I take great pride in the research I do. All I can remember is that what I’ve published has been proven right — time after time, sometimes years later. I stand ready to retract, correct, and apologize for anything I’ve ever written about poker strategy or theory (except for temporary glitches I’ve self-corrected) that’s not accurate.

I know you meant well and that, most likely, you’ve been influenced by words you heard from others. Gossip gets around. But where’s the merit to this accusation?

So, I’d be honored if you let me set you straight. None of my teaching is wrong. It can’t be, because I don’t use guesswork to devise strategy and when I declare something to be unquestionably true, it’s — you guessed what I’m going to say, right? — unquestionably true.

Most productive

And just so you know, I haven’t faded into obscurity. It was my choice to become a hermit in the Ozarks, but during these past dozen years I’ve done the most productive poker analysis in my life. I’ve also spent much of the last six years working on a methodology that protects online players from all forms of cheating. Hopefully, you’ll hear more about that soon and revise your opinions.

Now, Steve, I know you meant your article to be complimentary. And I accept it as such, in good spirit. There are many pioneers in many fields whose early theories have later been invalidated. There’s no disgrace in that. However, I’m not one of those.

— MC | Follow-up link: → None

Update note: (2014-09-24) Steve Ruddock has gracious responded with several comments below. You might find our back-and-forth discussion interesting.

He has also modified the original text of his article — the part quoted above.

It now reads: “A lot of the theories Caro espoused over the years are looney tunes and have been proven wrong, and in many cases Mike Caro himself no longer adheres to these strategies, but more importantly, Caro was one of the few people who was willing to test conventional wisdom and test it in new ways, such as his use of computer simulations.

I’m still confused about which theories have been proven wrong and which I no longer adhere to, but I appreciate Steve’s willingness to make those changes without even being asked to do so.

Also see:  → Why a Poker1 “Fast” category?  |  → All Poker1 “Fast” entries

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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.


11 thoughts on “Fast 2014-09-22: Caro proven wrong? Say it ain’t so!”

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  1. Steve=POWNED in this discussion. I’m not going to debate any of these things with you, but if you are gonna call a genius writer’s work hogwash, you should be up for a little friendly debate, EH??

  2. “Never raising from the SB; and never raising from EP in loose games. I’m sure there are others.”– That was one of Steve’s quotes from the above comment. Ive been a fan and read most of (and try to remember all) of what he has to say. I can certainly say this is not something Mike has ever recommended. First, the word “Never” I dont think is really ever used. The raising in ep in loose games is also wrong. He says to raise to increase the pot if you can, but dont raise to chase out weaker foes. Theres a big difference between those two things. I have often read just the titles of Mike entries, and thought “Huh? That doesnt sound right”, but then you have to read what he has to say. The title is usually just an eye catcher to make you think. Just commented because I noted that I would enjoy seeing Steve’s response, and think its awesome he came to chat/defend his opinion, etc.

    1. If you go back further (back to RPG days) you’ll find these topics, and no, I’m not a headline reader. I think Googling Morton’s Theorem will lead you to the don’t raise from EP strategy talk

      1. Hi, Steve — I’m well aware of that RGP discussion, but — again — I didn’t advocate not raising in an early position. And I didn’t have any disagreement with “Morton’s Theorem” itself. If you find the thread, you’ll see that my comments were civil — in response to him misinterpreting my thoughts as being in contrast to his own. They weren’t.

        In fact, in a seminar I did with David Sklansky at the Hilton in Las Vegas months (or possibly a year) earlier, I presented the theory that every hand played most profitably against an exact number of opponents. You could have too many or too few. I used the simple example of a no-drawing-allowed, five-card poker game to illustrate this. If you’re dealt a king-high straight flush, you’d rather have antes from two opponents than one. And 10 opponents is even better. But, if you’re against everyone in the world (using an infinitely large deck, including duplicate cards that can’t be present in a hand), your king-high straight flush is virtually worthless. Too many opponents. You’ll beat almost everyone, but are “certain” to lose to 9,000 or so players holding royal flushes. The chance that no opponent holds a royal is monumentally more remote than the number of opponents to 1 (you).

        I said that this powerful concept holds true for any hand. And I speculated that the ideal number of opponents for a pair of aces was five — and subsequent research (some this year, in fact) based on millions of online hands, shows that to be right. (By the way, I don’t see how my early revelations about this concept were really much different from Morton’s Theorem. And that’s why I was saddened by his surprising choice to use things he thought I’d advocated — but hadn’t — to introduce his very powerful thoughts on RGP. You’ll find that the entire conversation between us was polite and that I encouraged him, despite correcting his misconceptions about my thinking.)

        That thread seemed to resonate with people who weren’t paying close attention to the conversation, so I understand how this long-lived misunderstanding got started and persists.

        My contention was that it was often wrong to raise in order to limit the field of opponents. You’ll find many entries right here, in which I explain why. Basically, it’s because you’re more likely to chase away weak hands that you’d make the biggest profit from and remain against stronger hands that you’d make less (or no) profit from. I also say that you _should_ usually raise to limit the field if weak players are already in the pot and strong players remain to act.

        There’s much more to this. But hopefully, someone will locate the RGP thread.

        As a side note to readers unfamiliar with what Steve and I are talking about, Morton was a brilliant young poker theorist and would have offered us much. He died in a motorcycle accident. I had looked forward to working with him on future projects. Also, you should know that RGP is an acronym for the the newsgroup It was once the epitome of scholarly poker discussion, but deteriorated, due to hostile and off-topic posts as some people discovered that disrupting conversations in rude ways was great fun. New era; new power. Anyway, back when RGP was a dominate force, I was happy to contribute and honored to have delivered two keynote speeches to their annual gatherings in Las Vegas.

        — Mike Caro

  3. Many applicable strategy from 20 years ago would be mistakes today. This is true for anyone not just you. Off the top of my head: your dismissal of Game Theory as term used by “nerds” and relatively unimportant; Never raising from the SB; and never raising from EP in loose games. I’m sure there are others.

    (I’m not going to debate any of these things with you, so if you feel they are correct that is your prerogative)

    FWIW, many things I espoused or abided to over the past 15 years are also incorrect.

    It’s not a knock so much as a sign of the changing times and increasing knowledge.

    1. Hi, Steve —

      Thanks for responding. (By the way, I originally tried to reply below your article, instead of posting the P1 entry above, but the site didn’t allow it and the link to comments from the home page was broken.)

      Anyway, I agree that everything you cited is a mistake. But nothing you cited is MY mistake, because I don’t advocate any of it. Please read some of my entries here about the topics you mention (not just the headlines) and see if you change your mind.

      You say, “I’m not going to debate any of these things with you,” which demonstrates wisdom beyond your years.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

      1. fair enough, I’ll think about amending the column to reflect this :) And I’ll keep advocating for you for the PHoF, you’re very deserving

        1. Thanks, Steve. I appreciate the hard work you do reporting for the poker community. Great stuff — but I think you might have been a bit off in this one regard. You’ll have to examine what I’ve actually said, if you find the time, and see if you still object.

          1. made an edit to the article. Admittedly, I don’t follow much of your current writings, so I was unaware you had changed/softened positions on certain concepts. If you ever get nominated, and I ever get a vote you’ll have at least one supporter

  4. Sounds like the only part I agree on was the PHOF nomination. I think this is year number 3 that I have been saying “WTF??” for looking over you. Hope I get to see Steves reply here.

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