My exit from the 2010 WSOP main event (Caro blog)

  • By Mike Caro | Exit default content graphicEntry #11 (2010-07-10)

As those who follow my teachings know, I very seldom play poker tournaments. It’s a longstanding, friendly war I have with tournament management. As long as they stick to the current system of proportional payouts in which tables are consolidated and the prize pool is divided among the player who wins all the chips and many other late finishers already conquered, you won’t find me playing in many events.

It’s not me being stubborn, either. With that structure you can’t play your best poker and expect to maximize profit. You need to play to survive and avoid taking first place, hoping to stumble into it in the late stages. (You’ll find many entries here at Poker1 that explain the mathematical truth of that seemingly insane statement.) If the most profitable strategy is to sacrifice your best game, then that’s not in keeping with the purpose of a tournament. So, I don’t play.

In fact, when I left the Ozarks July 4, on a flight from Springfield, Missouri to Las Vegas, to play in the World Series of Poker main event the next day, that marked my only entry in a poker tournament in an entire year since the 2009 final.


Are you wondering why I only have about $400,000 in lifetime tournament winnings, and half of that from non-marquee local tournaments, unrecorded beyond regional publications and, perhaps, Poker Player newspaper? Some web sites show my lifetime earnings from the major tournaments at just over $100,000, some in the $200,000 range. I’m kind of sensitive about that and cringe when I hear comments pointing it out, as if it demonstrated inferiority versus other top players. Please compare my average of about four events per year to that of pros who play almost 300 events each year. Actually, most of my tournaments were smaller events decades ago that I played in the Los Angeles area for promotional purposes.

I’m proud of my record and even won the first two tournaments I ever played.

Maybe in the near future, I’ll take a year off and travel the tournament trail. Then we’ll see whatever we’ll see, right?

How my 2010 WSOP adventure ended

Let’s jump to the WSOP. Before the first deal, I announced to the table that I was going all in on the first hand, no matter what. Of course, it was a lie — and I often state to opponents that I lie 70 percent at random when playing poker. That statement is also a lie. Hey, if you can’t lie to opponents, you’re in big trouble at poker.

Anyway, guess what? I picked up a pair of kings on the button the first hand and raised all-in against one active opponent, other than the two in the blinds. I didn’t get called, but I’d given myself a much-better-than-usual chance of being called by a marginal hand than I would have had I not made the initial declaration. It was worth a shot. Under normal conditions, that all-in raise would most often be called by only a pair of aces. But with my previous declaration that I was going all-in, I’d hopefully instilled enough doubt that most callers would have held hands inferior to my kings.

So, I won the first pot, but nothing much good happened after that for seven hours. I saw my starting stack of $30,000 in tournament chips cut to a bit less than half.

Final hand

And then I got knocked out of this year’s main event on day one with 7-7 (when I got in to see the flop cheaply on the button). The flop was 7-4-2 of three different suits. I moved all-in for $13,000 and was called by Q-Q. It shouldn’t be hard to fill in the rest of this story, but just to make it clear, a queen appeared on the next card (the turn).

Most players think bad beats like that are tragic. To me, they’re just amusing and we move on to our next adventure. I enjoyed the experience, and since I always cheer for my opponents (as a psychological technique that I teach), everyone was happy.

This wasn’t quite as bad as the beat I took two years ago in a preliminary WSOP event (chronicled in the Player magazine, due to its bizarre nature) where I started with 8-8, flopped 8-8-6 and lost to an inside straight flush on the river. I managed to remain alive by just calling the final bet, rather than raising all-in. I’m sure if I start to play more events, I’ll eventually have remarkable hands like these go my way, instead.

Situation comedy

I never get upset by the results of hands. That’s because I treat poker and life itself as just episodes in a situation comedy. I’d be honored if you explored some of my psychological and motivational teachings scattered throughout Even if you end up in disagreement, you might find them worth examining. They’ll definitely keep you from going on tilt and playing badly.

Now I’m back in the Ozarks working on Poker1 again, in preparation for our September 1 “grand opening” announcement.

Once again, I greatly appreciate your early visits. You’ll see entries added every day and more functionality plugged in soon. — 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.


11 thoughts on “My exit from the 2010 WSOP main event (Caro blog)”

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)

  1. Pocket pairs are always good to start out with, especially pocket kings and aces. The higher your pair, usually the better off you are. Lets face it though, pairs virtually have only two outs of improving if out-flopped, and if it is down to a race between sets, the odds of improving are 2% after the turn.

    Thats why I have always liked reading your work on poker. Little insights such as, “To me, they’re just amusing and we move on to our next adventure”, for me anyways, I say the same thing to myself for the most part. Cards are still going to be cards. Sometimes aces are going to be beat by kings, and by the end of river – the aces were no good to begin with. Of course I have to understand that this is one of the things that happens in a random deck of cards.

    I remember reading an article about superstition that you wrote for Poker Player. One of the questions to yourself pretty much asked about how the cards are thrown into the muck – does that affect the next deal? I would have to dig up the article to find the exact answer, but the answer was yes.

    What I learned from it was that there are many things that will affect each and every shuffle, and each and every hand that is dealt. For me, there is really nothing I can do but accept the way the cards were dealt for that hand, and evaluate the way I played it. I can play the same exact hand, the same way, and be wrong each time and lose money. I can also play the same hand differently each time and win.

    Honestly I could ramble on and on trying to explain what you already know I am trying to explain; all I know is that I would have done the same thing if I would have been in your shoes during the main event last year. There really is no point in playing the tournament anyways if you were trying to get to first place. It’s a cool tournament to play if you have the money, but I would never expect to win the main event in my lifetime.

    Have a goodnight MC!

  2. Hi Mike,
    Just a quick comment about the quad 8 hand. We all know your the mad genius, but I don’t know very many players who can call the river with quads. I don’t know how the action went down, and folding is certainly out of the question. Nice call, and I’d be interested in following your year of playing tournaments if that ever happened.

    1. Thanks, Joel. I appreciate that you took the time to leave your first comment. Welcome to Poker1.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  3. I was hoping you would win it all Mike.I think it is in the cards for you to final table in some big tournaments yet to come.I love Poker1 Mike,i love your honest,intelligent,humble and humourous writings.I wish you all the best with Poker1 and life in general.I am a longtime fan mike.
    P.S When is the movie of your life story and your life in poker going to be made?I was thinking possibly John Malkovich could play you.I think it is a story that must be shown.
    All the best MIke.

  4. “Before the first deal, I announced to the table that I was going all in on the first hand, no matter what.”

    1 To what extent was your declaration a function of position?

    2 Before cards were dealt, did you have an explicit range that would determine whether you would follow through with your declaration?

    2A If so (or perhaps not), to what extent was preconceived intent subject to further qualification based upon subsequent action and interpretation?

    1. hi, iamnotwe —

      Thanks for making your first comment at Poker1.

      The declaration itself wasn’t motivated by position. I happened to have the best position (the button), but that was just a coincidence.

      I would have moved all in only with aces or kings, and I’m not sure if I would always have done so with kings — which is what I had and what I did.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

      1. Thanks for the added thoughts.

        I have been enjoying your writing and theatrical exploits for many years.

        When I first visited Vegas in the late 80s, I bought your 7-stud report. I used it to guide my play to profit in 5-10 and 10-20 games on that and later visits.

  5. And it looks like the final 9 for WSOP 2010 is up! Michael Mizrachi really did very well to stay despite being short stacked. Well let’s see if he really lives up to his nickname of The Grinder. Gonna be reconvened on November 9th later this year. That’s a long wait. Meanwhile, what are you folks here at Poker1 gonna be up to for now?

    1. Hi, Robert —

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

      We’ll be continuing our race to have a “grand opening” for Poker1 by September 1. There is still almost 60 percent functionality to plug in.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

  6. “Hey, if you can’t lie to opponents, you’re in big trouble at poker.” You couldn’t have said it any better Mike. I like that statement. But let’s call it a bluff. Saying a “lie” is well… LOL! :D

    1. Hi, Per —

      Thanks for making your first comment. In case you and our other visitors don’t know, first comments are approved quickly and, after that, you’re free to post immediately without moderation.

      Welcome to our Poker1 family.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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)