Why sixties people can’t win at poker

Note: Also titled: “Die hippies, die!” This is a reprint of a controversial column.

It was written many decades before “political correctness” and “wokeness” attacked intellectual thought. As such, it was probably one of the earliest warnings of the looming threat to logic, free speech, and reason that eventually invaded our lives in the first quarter of the twenty-first century.

Although many of Mike’s friends tend to be liberal, they may abandon him after reading his attack on the sixties. So, don’t tell.

Die, hippies, die!

Die, hippies, die! But, you won’t, will you? You won’t do even that simple little favor for me. Instead, you’re determined to leave your goofy, guru-inspired grumblings all over the planet — hippie droppings everywhere, destined to become permanent and petrified.

Let’s talk. Think back to… oh, around 1969 to 1976. Remember how we would sit around and you would blurt, in your thickened good-grass smokin’ voice, “Nobody should have to work for a livin’. If me and Sally were in charge of this country, there’d be free cars and television and food and whatever the people need.”

Remember how I would nod affectionately and ask, “But where would all that come from if nobody worked?”

Make other stuff

You would invariably grow irritated and say something like, “Big corporations are creating all those tanks and bombs. All we need to do is tell ’em to make other stuff instead.”

And Sally would leap from the sofa, shrieking, “Right on, man!” and roll another bomber (i.e., a big, fat marijuana cigarette, for those lucky enough not to have suffered through the sixties). “They’d rather make things for their rich pig friends than feed the people and give us new televisions.”

Mike Caro hippie photo, black and whiteHere’s a hippie photo of Mike Caro from 1977. He wasn’t actually a hippie; he merely looked like one. See entry about the photo here.

Not so funny anymore. Back then, I found my friends’ behavior amusing. Once in a while, I tried to reason with them, but mostly I just sat back and observed. Sometimes, I listened to words like these: “Vote? None of us will ever vote. That’s establishment bullshit. You gotta sell out to the establishment to vote, man.” SO, WHY THE HELL ARE YOU VOTING NOW? WHO ASKED YOU TO? DOESN’T YOUR WORD MEAN ANYTHING? Sorry if I’m shouting.

By now my regular readers are wondering what this has to do with poker. Not a damn thing that I can think of… except… hang on, we’re getting there. There were many other favorite causes for the hippies: They hated banks, they thought that taking a job for the money was “selling out.”

Doesn’t matter

They said things like, “It doesn’t matter if your parents really did something bad to you or not, if you think they did it, then they did it.” And that made perfect sense to them, because they were squiggly, wiggly people. And they have grown up to be what I call squiggliwigs. Please don’t think I’m being mean-spirited by coining this term. I have actually field tested it on real hippie remnants and they like it!

Everything made perfect sense to the squiggliwigs, except logic. Just use the word logic positively in a sentence and you’d be confronted with a drug-induced, contemptuous stare. Now, I know that many readers think I’m exaggerating, but those who lived in those times among those peers will confirm that every word I’m saying is true.

Another thing: If you ever tried to reason with a hippie, challenging a cherished notion, you would often be told that you were “playing with my head.” This was never said lightly, because “playing with my head,” especially among women, had become a crime unparalleled — equivalent to assault. Hippies and other similar sixties people professed love, but they could be very hateful. I know, I was there.

They professed total tolerance, but they were among the most intolerant people who ever walked this earth. I know, I was there.

Should you compete?

Anyway, one special concept of the hippies was that competition is bad. You cooperate, you don’t compete. Last week, I realized just how embedded the ghosts of the sixties are in our lives today. I’ve finally come to believe that the majority of people that surround us are not sane.

We enjoyed the hippies because what they did seemed fun, and because we believed they were just kids who had decided to delay maturity by five or ten years. But 11 years passed, and 15, and 20, and now 25 or more, and there is no sign that they will ever mature.

Obviously, when I say the majority of people around us are not sane, I had better mean that as a powerful figure of speech used to pound home a point, not as a statement to be taken literally. Unfortunately, I want you to take it literally. I honestly believe that the poisoned thoughts of the squiggliwigs have polluted the mainstream.

Sadness and shock

Here’s why I’m writing this today. It’s that last hippie concept I talked about: Competition is bad. Well, a few weeks ago the Little League team representing the United States (Mission Viejo) played a team from Mexico for the championship. Our guys are leading 4-1 going into the bottom of the final inning.

Pitcher gets tired. Hits batter. Walks batter. New pitcher. Homerun ties game. Sadness and shock all over the young pitcher’s face. Whole team is in fog. Runner gets on base, goes to second. Somewhere in here, we change pitchers again, I think. Not positive. Ball hit to outfield. Gets by center fielder. Run scores. Center fielder collapses facedown in outfield, possibly sobbing. End of his world. Great drama. Television has come of age.

Kids feel they choked. Total numbness and disbelief. Fine. All is as it should be. But, over the last few days in Los Angeles, there’s been a feast of news coverage celebrating this defeated team as a wondrous success. OK. They got to the final game; they deserve credit for that. But, let’s get something clear.

Most newsrooms throughout this nation are populated by people who went through colleges learning sixties-style messages. And one of those messages was that competition isn’t so good, and losing isn’t so bad.


As a consequence of this sixties, squiggliwig thinking, the accolades these kids received for losing went way beyond what they would have received for winning. In fact the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles proudly abandoned their regular news format and gleefully devoted the first eight minutes of the 6 O’clock news to the celebration.

Harmful concepts. This makes me sad. The squiggliwigs from the sixties don’t care how much they harm children with their nonsense. If these kids believe that they failed and that their glorious one-time opportunity escaped them, then let them grow from that pain. That pain is good. That pain has purpose. It conditions them to protect a win more aggressively next time.

There is pain in losing; there is pain in life. We should tell these kids, “I, too, know what losing feels like. You blew it, but remember today, so that you won’t want to feel this way ever again. Next time you won’t blow it.” If you condition someone to feel more valuable by losing than by winning, common sense has been rolled over, and we might as well get stoned so that this stuff makes sense to us, too.

I’ve finally had enough of the sixties. It’s my fault, by the way. Instead of nodding bemusedly in response to the brain-dimmed babbling back then, I should have sent these people to their rooms without supper.

Now they can’t see the difference between what is grownup and what is juvenile. They can’t see the difference between what is logic and what is squiggliwig.

Long ago, when I sat on a sofa and listened to their babble, trying to be friendly, I never thought these same people would sometime want to take charge of the universities, the newsrooms, and the legislatures. I never dreamed there would dawn a day when people of such flimsy vision would dress up in their parents’ clothes and pretend to be adults. But they did.

Poker warning

And, so, we as poker players need to beware. The majority of people that surround us are not truly sane. And they can’t turn to the conventional channels for help, because most psychologists are also squiggliwigs, products of the same upbringing, and are themselves not sane.

We are tempted to lessen our competitive drive at the tables, to blend in, but we must not. Competition is good. When our opponents are squiggliwigs, we can easily spot them, because:

  1. Bluffing feels unnatural to them, so they seldom bluff.
  2. They call a lot to be sociable, but seldom raise.
  3. If they do bluff or raise, it’s always in a friendly, half-apologetic manner, never a warlike one.
  4. If they get ahead a lot of chips, they seem to play poorly in an attempt to equalize things and cash out an amount that seems fairer to them.
  5. If they get lucky and win big, despite these efforts to win small or lose, they will apologize for taking so much money out of the game.

One good thing: If you allow yourself to slip into that sixties attitude at poker, you’ll be more satisfied if you lose. It won’t hurt as much. On the other hand, if you want to win consistently at poker, you must shake free of the sixties entirely. Seek squiggliwigs to play against. Those hanger-on hippies can be your most profitable opponents. — 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.


31 thoughts on “Why sixties people can’t win at poker”

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  1. Wow! Thanks Mike. Squiggliwigs, huh? I plan to steal and spread. You are sooo right.

  2. I learned something new again from your words! You know a lot about a lot of things in life. I would be lost without your daily posts!

    Kind regards,


  3. Thanks Mike,

    Perhaps your next article you could write a piece called “Why Eighties people can’t write music”, alternatively titled “Die, Yuppies die”.

    Or why if it weren’t for the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley (to pick a very select few) sucking on their “bombers” the world would be a far duller, greyer place.

    Thank god we don’t have to rely on conservatives for our music.

    And if you hadn’t realised yet, polishing your arse beating a middle limit hold’em table for 12 hours a day isn’t going to produce cars and television and food.

    1. Hi, Olly —

      Your comments are appreciated.

      1. I like your suggested title for an “eighties people” piece. Unfortunately, that’s a couple decades later than I can relate to as personally evolutionary.

      2. I frequently listen to (and collect) the Beatles, Dylan, and the Stones, so I can relate to that. Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, and Bob Marley never lit a fire for me, but sometimes there are sparks. “Dull and gray” has its own merits.

      3. I don’t know about your fear of having to rely on conservatives for music, though. I’m a libertarian (more or less). Many people seem to confuse great art with mental distortion of reality. That tends to work and is often interesting. But logic can still produce art and music that satisfies emotionally.

      4. Actually, beating a middle-limit poker game for 12 hours a day (which isn’t something I’m interested in doing) might produce cars and television and food. Production is driven by demand. And a winning poker player is often a buyer. However, this would need to be measured against the diminished buying power of those who suffered poker losses. So, you might be right. Listening to music is also “non-productive.” And yet…

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  4. this is interesting, I’m saving this so I can give it some full thought and fully contemplate and process it and write again later I won’t forget as this has a lot of different things to think about

  5. mike this to me is one of your best pieces of work. personally im liberterian not falling into either classic catergory .without knowing the agony of defeat and thrill of a hard fought victory life would be like a drug induced haze.thanks mike im still learning at 47 better late than never .

  6. Would it be smart to show this article to your 50 year old father after you told them they were a squiggliwig? Love your articles. They help so much. I’m a big fan. Thank you Mike Caro.

    1. Hi, Alexander —

      I won’t respond to your rhetorical question, but thanks for the kind words. Also, thanks for making your first comment and joining our Poker1 family.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  7. Mike,
    Your honesty frightens me to a point of no return. I have a very difficult time expressing my respect for your insights. Men are made to hunt for his spoils, you are certainly a chief among the warlords. From tracking your youtube videos, it has become clear to me that the influence of consumerism has become greatly reflected. The numbers of decreasing per views on the ascending numbers of videos have shown that the exemplary of a pyramid speaks one truth: most people simply do not care to win.
    loving this article!!

    Four Queens,
    Qeric Koten

    1. Hi, Rakemeback —

      I’m guessing yours is a reply to “Dustin C” above. Note that you can make that intent clearer by clicking the “Reply” link at the bottom of the original message, rather than replying to the main entry.

      In any case, thanks for making your first comment and joining our Poker1 family.

      Glad you liked the photo.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  8. I think a lot of people are missing the point of article. Yes MC is on his soap box (why not it’s inside of his head he has invited us to in the first place… which is kind of creepier at times and I am not going to ask what that is over there).
    As an avid low no limit player I see these squgliwigs all the time. People who grip if you raise it more than a few times saying that you killing the fun of the game or people who are with true earnest apologizing for having a better kicker.
    The idea of his soap box is Mike and Doyle both open up there articles with a story and use that to blend in there points.
    Players who play “why can’t we all get along” and get crushed and then there is players who crush them and go after other computation type of players.
    Last note the squgliwigs are in the military too (I am career Military).

  9. Mike,

    Terrible column. I guess that I can respect your for poker and not sociology. Stick with poker man you sound more intelligent.

  10. hi mike, interesting artical, thought i would share our experience,my wife and i both play poker, im more serious play all the time, my wife jackie is more casual once a week, we are polar opposites when we play,i showed my wife the squiggliwigs tendencies that you have numbered 1-5, and she agreed that they are her exact tendencies,she is a passive/ weak/ abc/ rock, whereas im a fearless lag type player,
    im a regular winning player and my wife has only won twice in 3 years, which backs up your theory from our little world
    i play to win, my wife plays not to lose…ty mike

  11. Great article. If “squiggliwig” is available at Doyle’s Room I think I’d like to change my name!

  12. Hey Mike, you know how you’re always saying normal players are predisposed to calling, and the more you say the more likely they’ll filter that information into a justifiable reason to call? Well with this article you do the same thing, except your seeing a hippie influence connection with something you don’t like that probably doesn’t exist. Thus your hippie hatred is stoked, and your mind creates other connections with hippie influence that don’t exist. People tend to empathize when seeing video/images of kids in the emotion of agony (probably stronger then the tendency to show their good hand to a bystander). Local news stations capitalized on that hoping to increase rating and/or improve image with audience. Not a hippie thing. What you’ve said about hippies rings true, you’re just over valuing their influence (in this case anyways).

    Now let me say about the squiggliwigs types I come across. They live off Social Security and Medicare and rant about how a state or federal politician is a socialist. It’s not the difference of opinion, it’s not the hypocrisy, it’s the level of anger and hate they project. Squiggliwigs is not a good word for them, madhammerheads is better. Attempting to use logic only makes them angrier, unless it’s to support a cherished notion they already believe in. I’m starting to believe the same squiggliwigs you’ve shown contempt for morphed into the madhammerheads I come across once in a while. Same type of insanity, just angrier. I would avoid them like the plague if they weren’t so profitable to play against. Thanks for letting me rant.

    Peace out, JD

    1. Hi, Dustin —

      Thanks for posting your first comment and joining our Poker1 family.

      If you’ll be more specific, I’ll try to improve.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

      1. I was expecting to read an article about poker but instead found a page full of ranting and personal politics..

        1. I just reread the entry. I see your point.

          How would you have presented these powerful truths?

          Straight Flushes,
          Mike Caro

        2. I think you hit dustin’s intolerant hippie nerve with this one! I enjoyed reading this, especially since I live in mission viejo.
          Keep the good stuff comin’!
          Ps I bought your book of tells along with, “caros most profitable hold em advice: the missing arsenal”. I’m about to start them both, I’m sure they’ll be great.

  13. Mike, I have to call, well, not BS, because the post itself is great, however, something disturbs me, and maybe you can clarify for me with a quick response; You state that in a tournament, it’s better to take 2nd than 1st. At least, because of the value of the chips. Not seeing how celebrating 2nd place for the little league team is different. It may be similar, yet different. I guess I need a further explanation of the concept of taking 2nd in a tourney, when 1st is usually almost twice as much money….

    1. Hi, Matches Malone —

      Let me see if I can clear this up for you…

      It’s better to take first place in a tournament than second. That’s obvious. Winning first place should be the greatest goal when you enter any type tournament.

      In those other entries about poker tournament strategy that you’re referring to, I didn’t say that second place was better. I said that in typical proportional payout events (where first place wins all the chips, but only wins a fraction of the prize pool), second place was rewarded and first place was punished.

      As a result, the correct strategy is to play to survive, avoiding risky tactics specifically aimed at securing first place. You hope to stumble into first place, obviously, but the most profit is generated by playing to survive.

      My point is that, to me, structuring payouts that way defeats the purpose of a poker tournament — which should be to play your best poker and target first place.

      This first-place-is-punished concept doesn’t apply to baseball tournaments. It shouldn’t apply to poker tournaments, either, if they were structured intelligently.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  14. Thanks so much Mike,

    I thought I was alone… the squgliwigs are completely insane and everywhere. Luckily some of them play poker. I’ve studied and played poker for years and the game has taught me everything my hippie parents could not. Awesome article, I couldn’t agree more.

    Thanks Again,


  15. Great article, I was born in the 70’s and believe me when I say that those bums ruined future generations. I wish we could have stopped them from breeding, and spreading their hippy spirit to their spawns. A couple who are my neighbors had liberal college professors as parents and indoctrinated them with hate America and God is a myth mentality. They say that everything should be bought and paid for by the government and the are the least tolerant people I have ever met…..

    1. Hi, Jamie —

      Thanks for joining our Poker1 family by making your first comment.

      Our family includes all types of relatives, including hanger-on hippies. They know that I share my moods and deepest thoughts. And oddly, most seem to tolerate me, despite my contrary opinions.

      At some point, maybe we’ll all re-examine our existences from the next dimension (if there is one) and giggle about the parts we played on life’s stage. Meanwhile, I think great harm is being done in this dimension by hippie mentality. And every human who clings to that mindset and eventually grows beyond it represents a small victory for the forces of reason. Just sayin’

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

      1. Mike, love the site. I’ve learned so much about poker from your articles, but this post is easily my favorite.

        I’m only 21, but from an early age I began to see the idiocy of these people, and nothing burns me quite like the person who says competition is a bad thing.

        Anyway, thanks for the great site, and keep up the great work!

        1. Hi, Alex —

          Thanks for making your first comment and joining our Poker1 family.

          I appreciate your kind words and hope you’ll stick around to see our site unfold, as we continue toward making it fully functional. In a few months, we will hopefully publicly announce a “grand opening.”

          Straight Flushes,
          Mike Caro

  16. Well lets see you need to learn something from everything you read about poker. So fan the smoke away if you can and there is a lesson here. I got it but did others maybe not but I learned from this read. Nope not going to tell you what I learned because then you would know what I learned and use it against me. See ya at the tables. Larry

  17. Mike you shound have smoked a little more. Remember the old saying? “It don’t matter how you play, Only if you win?”
    The old Packers? Or ya shound have been In Country. Winning meant EVERYTHING there. And we brought the idea home with us. Think of the big names that are from the sixties. From Truimp to Perot.

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