Sitting out Easter in the Bible Belt (Caro blog)

Entry #5 (2010-04-04)

At, I’m planning to share everything — all my thoughts, my research, my life.

It wouldn’t be fair to omit parts that would make me less appealing. There’s stuff about life that I’m still puzzling — things I haven’t resolved, things that might make you mad.

It’s Easter Sunday. And it’s so very quiet here in the Ozarks, heart of the Bible Belt. Most people are off to church. I’m not among them.

Doyle tries his best

The legendary poker player Doyle Brunson is a devout born-again Christian. He’s written inspiring accounts about how his faith has helped him and of the many miracles he’s witnessed.

I believe him; I just don’t believe what he believes. For decades he’s been trying to convince me to join up, to save my soul before it’s too late. I want to do this. I don’t want to go to hell. I don’t want to go on being an outcast, but I can’t pretend just for the sake of my own comfort or the comfort of people who surround me. Religion is something you should feel and not fake. And I don’t feel it — not yet.

Doyle has taken me to Christian book stores twice and bought me a dozen or so books. I promised to read them, and I did, at least several. I tried to get it, to grasp it. But the light never came on for me, the miracle never happened.

My neighbors

So, here I am, a hermit in the Ozarks. My neighbors are the kindest folks I’ve ever met. Their lives are intertwined with church activity. This was true, too, for the people from whom I bought my lakefront refuge across the road in 2002. I can’t help but wonder how my arrival affected my neighbors’ comfort — good Christians move out, a gambler moves in. They never say anything or badger me to join their church. But I’m sure they’re not pleased with this turn of fate.

But some of the Ozarks is seeping in. And a few days ago, I broadcast this tweet on Twitter:

“Tired. Working ’round clock on Poker1. Ozarks culture rubbing off. No gun in L.A. Now own arsenal, concealed carry, armed/dangerous.Save me.”

Poker probability storms

And here I exist in the Ozarks, surrounded by more churches than is humanly possible to count. And, still, I haven’t come to believe in what any of them preaches. What do I believe in? I’m really not sure. Once I came close to believing in poker probability storms, because long runs of both good and bad luck that I observed seemed to defy expectations. But that was just done for my own amusement. I think the existence of probability storms is extremely unlikely, at best, unless there’s a god-force manipulating the cards. But I seldom deny the possibility of anything being true. I guess you could describe my religious experience to date as a quest for answers.

What I believe

My religion? Undefined. I believe that it’s impossible for humans to comprehend reality or even know what they are or where they are. It’s as if certain limits have been established, certain questions can never have answers. I wonder if we’re involved in a game where knowing the answers would spoil the adventure. Because we can’t know, I’ve always quibbled with those who profess answers. How do they know? The word of God? How does he know? I’m not saying that He doesn’t know or that He doesn’t exist. I just don’t have a clue, and I’m not going to pretend to have one.

I guess that makes me stubborn. But I’m not confrontational. Every few months Jehovah’s Witnesses journey down Caro Drive to my house. (Yes, my nearly half-mile-long driveway is an official county street named after me and it’s on the maps, even GPS. Try getting that to happen in California!) They come bearing religious magazines, like the Watchtower. I’m always polite and accept these graciously. What’s even stranger is that I read some of the articles. I’m worried that they might come back and quiz me, and I don’t want to flunk.

I don’t believe in God right now, but I’m not an atheist. That’s because I accept the possibility of God. In my mind, atheists are actually religious because they profess to know something that cannot be known — that God doesn’t exist. (Yes, I understand that my statement might be too broad, because there are many types of atheists.) Am I an agnostic? That’s probably a good way to define where I am today, stuck stubbornly with the same beliefs (and non-beliefs) I’ve held for 50 years.

Anyway, I thought this was a good day to warn you that I don’t participate in conventional religion. Now that I’ve shared this truth about myself, you might want to revisit some of my poker and life advice with that in mind.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: Happy Easter! — 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.


26 thoughts on “Sitting out Easter in the Bible Belt (Caro blog)”

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  1. I know this is a really old post and you are now older and may have reached a conclusion, but I wanted to share part of a conversation between Jiddu Krishnamurti and an attendee at one of his speakings. The whole conversation can be found here:

    Like yourself, Jiddu Krishnamurti spoke to thousands of people all over the world about some of life’s most hardest questions to answer (don’t know if I said that right).

    Well, so I don’t babble on, here is that excerpt I wanted to share about his thought on the word God:

    In the case of the tree the object is before our eyes, and the word refers to the tree by universal agreement. Now with the word god there is nothing to which it refers, so each man can create his own image of that for which there is no reference. The theologian does it in one way, the intellectual in another, and the believer and the non-believer in their own different ways. Hope generates this belief, and then seeking. This hope is the outcome of despair – the despair of all we see around us in the world. From despair hope is born, they also are two sides of the same coin. When there is no hope there is hell, and this fear of hell gives us the vitality of hope. Then illusion begins. So the word has led us to illusion and not to god at all. God is the illusion which we worship; and the non-believer creates the illusion of another god which he worships – the State, or some utopia, or some book which he thinks contains all truth. So we are asking you whether you can be free of the word with its illusion.

    1. Thank you for sharing that, Nathaniel.

      In the future, I will be presenting the results of my nearly lifelong pursuit of essential truth. I’ve been working on the final conclusions for a very long time. It will be presented in an outline of interrelated elements according to what I perceive to be their probabilities. You might find it interesting, although many won’t.

  2. Hey Mike thanks for sharing! Im personally identify as atheist. But wanted to explain the “title” and how I thought about. I dont believe in “agnostic” being a title. I personally believe having a title that says nothing at all is useless. I identify with atheism, because of how I live my life. Sure, there could be a God, but I dont live my life everyday as if there is a God. I think the probability of there being a God is very very tiny, but of course, there is always that minute chance just as there is a minute chance that there are something we would describe as flying spaghetti monsters in a different part of space, or dimension. But I believe making a choice, to either live as if there is a God directing your life and your morals or there isnt one guiding you is what makes you either religious or atheist. Just thought I would share! Either way, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and good luck on your upcoming seminar in FL!

  3. Hi Mike: saw this entry and I like it too much. TY for sharing another pieces of the MAd Genius mind. Glad to read you every day. Never stop.

  4. Hello Mike. I stumbled onto your website a couple months ago. I've spent and will continue to spent hours studying here. You speak Truth. Doyle's SuperSystem is one of my go to books. I read this post about a month ago and began considering replies. I am a Christian. One of my friends sent me the following discussion this week. I knew I needed to send it to you. Share it with Doyle along with my Thanks for SS. Here it is…. 
    Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?

    > Student : Yes, sir.

    > Professor: So, you believe in GOD ?

    > Student : Absolutely, sir.

    > Professor : Is GOD good ?

    > Student : Sure.

    > Professor: Is GOD all powerful ?

    > Student : Yes.

    > Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

    > (Student was silent.)

    > Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?

    > Student : Yes.

    > Professor: Is satan good ?

    > Student : No.

    > Professor: Where does satan come from ?

    > Student : From … GOD …

    > Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

    > Student : Yes.

    > Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

    > Student :Yes

    > Professor: So who created evil ?

    > (Student did not answer.)

    > Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?

    > Student : Yes, sir.

    > Professor: So, who created them ?

    > (Student had no answer.)

    > Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?

    > Student : No, sir.

    > Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?

    > Student : No ,sir.

    > Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smell your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?

    > Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.

    > Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?

    > Student : Yes.

    > Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?

    > Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.

    > Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.

    > Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

    > Professor: Yes.

    > Student : And is there such a thing as cold? Professor: Yes.

    > Student : No, sir. There isn’t.

    > (The lecture theatre became very quiet with this turn of events.)

    > Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

    > (There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)

    > Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

    > Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

    > Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, were you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?

    > Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man ?

    > Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

    > Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?

    > Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

    > Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

    > Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

    > Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

    > (The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)

    > Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

    > (The class was in uproar.)

    > Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?

    > (The class broke out into laughter. )

    > Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

    > (The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)

    > Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

    > Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

    Grace & Peace Mike,

    1. > Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?’

      It really doesn’t though. Can’t prove a negative.

    2. Awesome response and account between a student and professor. Love it.

  5. The Ozarks are very beautiful. My two grandchildren and daughter and son-in-law live not far away from you in NW Arkansas.

    Lou Holtz when he saw Fayetteville for the first time said “It isn`t heaven , but you can see it from here.”

    I cherish the time I get to leave the cotton patches and spend in the hills of NW Arkansas.

    “All along the Watchtower”,the Great Dylan sang.

  6. Thanks for making such a valuable blog, sincerely Kobos Mathers.

    [url=]Gucci Shoes[/url]

  7. Believe, Mike?

    It’s not hard. Look, did you love you mother? You did? Can you prove it?


    razz (in FL)

  8. I haven’t been reading your blog long, but I’m impressed with your views. It seems everyone searches for a time to find what feels right to them. While I consider myself Christian, I also don’t know that God exists. My gut instinct is that He does, but I certainly can’t prove it. Knowledge and faith are two entirely different things. I have faith he exists, but no concrete knowledge that he does. It’s an interesting duality; it’s one that concerns me at times, though.

    I wish you luck in your journey, no matter where it eventually takes you.

  9. To Easter (verb) means to travel toward the light. From reading your blog entry (linked from Doyle’s tweet) you seem to be doing that. I’m a Christian and a poker enthusiast. So … Happy Eastering. :)

    1. Hi, JC — Thanks for posting at the new Poker1. Unfortunately, I think that sometimes I travel away from the light. But darkness intrigues me. Go figure. — Mike Caro

      1. We all travel away from the light at times. To easter is a sailing term. A ship (or vessel), as we humans are all vessels, cannot always sail toward the light to arrive at our various destinations.

  10. Mike, I am impressed that you have remained open and searching for this long. I’ll preface this with the fact that I am a Christian. My recommendation to you is this: don’t judge the “religion” (I’m sure you’ve heard it said by some Christians that we don’t see it as a religion but as a relationship) by the people that represent it around you. My father and step-mother lived in the North Georgia mountains for awhile and my step-mother got so cynical against Christianity for no other reason than she did not like the attitudes and behaviors of the local churches and believers. That’s unfortunate to me and I hope it doesn’t present any stumbling blocks to you as you question the Bible, God, Jesus, and salvation by faith through grace.

    Thanks for your transparency, it is a noble trait.


  11. Mr Caro, I have been where you are….searching….wondering..and I know that for me, I just had to have all the answers, I just had to be right…and at one point there was information and then there was choice to be made. I was priveledged enough to have an amazing friend who was willing to answer all my questions and debate the issues I had everyday.I understand from your blog that Mr. Brunson has taken you to get many a book on the subject, but if I may suggest a few more, I think that reading and thinking by yourself is invaluable in your quest for answers….I would suggest ‘Blue like Jazz’, ‘Letters from a Skeptic’ and ‘The Case for Christ’. Please continue your search….

    1. Hi, Amanda —

      Thanks for joining our Poker1 community. And I appreciate your recommendations.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  12. My final argument..If you are right and I’m wrong, I’ll be no worse off than you. But if I’m right and you are wrong… (shudder). Better reconsider

    1. Hi, Doyle —

      Welcome to the new Poker1. I always reconsider when you advise it. I’m working on this, but don’t hold your breath. It takes me a while.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  13. The very fact that your thinking about religion ,or whether there is a god is good.I think that you do want 2 believe in something otherwise, u could b making a big mistake if your wrong.?(Dont we all think that.?) Never say never, who knows, at the end of the day as long as we have been good 2 one another, and treated others with respect, well I think god will b pleased. And dont forget, doing something 4 others that makes u stretch just a bit makes u human.!

    1. Hi, midgetdiget —

      Thanks for making your first comment at the new Poker1. I agree with you about treating others with respect.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  14. Mike, Happy Easter to you, too.

    Having lived on The Lake of The Ozarks myself about 34 years ago, I understand what you are going through. It’s certainly a much different world from the other places I’ve lived–and living in Las Vegas as I do now couldn’t be more different.

    I’ve met Doyle three times, and shared a poker table with him two of the three, but certainly can’t say I know him, by any stretch of the imagination. From what I do know of Christianity, however, I don’t think your blog will upset him. It may frustrate him a bit, but your blog appears to be well thought out, and comes, I suspect, from the heart. And, it appears to me, you’re honest about what you think and feel. That is certainly a premium attribute for anyone to aspire to.

    In any event, interesting reading for me this Easter. My best to you in your current endeavors.

    1. Hi, Steve —

      Welcome to our Poker1 family. I haven’t visited Lake of the Ozarks yet, but considered buying property there, before settling on Table Rock Lake to the south (also in Missouri, but barely north of Arkansas).

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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