Warning to Brunson, Sexton, and other roasters

This article first appeared in Card Player magazine in 1996. The complete title was: Warning to Sutton, Brunson, Hardie, McEvoy, Bowling, Sexton, and all you other yahoos. But that’s too long to fit the new Poker1.com format. They were “yahoos” temporarily in Mike Caro’s mind, because they had been invited by Hollywood Park Casino to roast him in celebration of his 52nd birthday. The premise was that at 52, Caro would finally be playing with a full deck.

Oh, before I forget, let me recommend a very different kind of poker book. This one has no strategy, no rules, not even a detailed history of poker. It’s Michael Wiesenberg’s latest effort, called Poker Talk: A Complete Guide to the Vocabulary of Poker.

This dictionary-style textbook bravely covers almost every poker-related term or phrase you will ever hear spoken, including some you don’t ever want to hear spoken, at the table. It’s amazingly well researched and written, and it belongs on your gambling bookshelf. I don’t usually find myself quite so enthusiastic about a book, but this one fills a long-ignored hole in poker literature. From Card Player, $14.95, 186 pages. (Note: MCU subsequently bought the rights to the dictionary from Card Player and published its own edition.)

Have I been playing without a full-deck? If you’re one of those people who’ve long suspected I’m a few cards short of a full deck, you’ll be glad to hear Hollywood Park Casino is throwing a party devoted to that proposition. A party? Well, let me whisper a secret: I’m not a sociable guy. More times than not, my wife Phyllis drags me to parties kicking and screaming.

“You act like you’re six years old,” she sometimes tells me.

In response, I correct her by holding up only four fingers. “I hate going to parties and hanging out with adults.”

But despite my antisocial nature, when they told me Hollywood Park Casino was proposing a party to celebrate my 52nd birthday, I felt greatly flattered. I’ve never had a party, never even wanted one, and I definitely never intend to have one again after this. Anyway, like I was saying, I felt flattered, right up until I figured out what they actually had in mind.

Apparently, they picked up on something I wrote in a previous column and decided there should be a weekend-long “Full-Deck” party. The premise is that I’m turning 52 and might – if things go right – finally begin to play with a full deck. The scary part about this “celebration” is, there is supposed to be a roast the night of June 8.

Now, personally, I like roasts. Other people’s roasts. In fact, I helped roast Doyle Brunson a few years ago at the Bicycle Club Casino. We smoked him good. The word is that they aren’t going to hold anything back, and John Sutton, the roastmaster, intends to “expose” me for what I really am. Whatever that means.

But here’s a word of caution to Sutton and his panel, including Brunson, George Hardie, Tom McEvoy, Tom Bowling, Mike Sexton, my wife Phyllis, others, and a few promised surprises. Listen up, folks: I’ve got stuff on you, too, and I’m not afraid to use it.

Tells on video. The next thing I want to talk about (pretty good transition here, huh?) is my video of tells. You’ve been snickering for a long time, because I keep announcing that I’m about to do this video. The hype has gone on forever, and I even foolishly ran a teaser ad several years ago that shouted, “Coming Soon!” so many times that I finally had to discontinue it.

Well, guess what? On May 1 and May 2, we filmed the tells video. It will be a two-tape set, covering all the material in Mike Caro’s Book of Tells – The Body Language of Poker, and quite a bit more. In looking over the rough footage, it impresses me that this material is even more powerfully presented on video than in print. When you see a tell in motion, it’s easier to understand.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 8 at HPC, to celebrate the tells filming, I’ll be doing something else I’ve promised for a long-time. I’ll be giving a completely revised 90-minute seminar. You’ll see slides shot on location during the filming of the videos. Additionally, I’ll count down my top 20 poker strategy tips of all time. They say they’re giving me the opportunity to do this seminar, and inviting you to attend for free, so that I can have one last chance to hold my head high before they ruin my reputation forever at the roast.

Who’s the draw poker champion of the world? I agreed to do the seminar, but I had my doubts about being roasted. Finally, I made a weird deal. If there would be a roast, there would also be a draw-poker championship! A what-poker championship? You heard me right! Draw poker. You know, old-fashioned, five-card draw, like in the Old West. This is the way poker is meant to be played by real men. (Actually, I hope a woman wins this one!)

As a few of you may still remember, draw poker used to be my main game. Years ago, I researched, played, and wrote about it more than any other form of poker. A few books even said I was the best player alive. And those are books that belong on your bookshelf, right besides Wiesenberg’s latest. Then five-card draw virtually disappeared from public casinos.

But, guess what? Draw remains the most widely understood, and the most played game in America. Just step outside your cardroom environment and ask anyone in Minnesota, or Idaho, or Nebraska.

So, humor me; it’s my party. They say nobody plays draw; I say they’ll be surprised. Together, let’s play this comfortable $100 buy-in (one optional rebuy) championship. It’s not jacks-or-better, either. And there’s no joker. This is pure poker, anything opens, not that sissy stuff.

As I said before, I’m not a party guy. This is a once-only event in my life. I’m proud to say, it has the cooperation of people from many different casinos, and I’m be honored if you came to my seminar and played in my draw-poker tournament.

As far as the roast goes, let’s just ignore it and maybe it will go away.

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. Hi, Nathan —

      You can find Hollywood Park Casino, with it’s often-lively poker games, in Inglewood, California. That’s a Los Angeles suburb. It’s only a few minutes from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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