- By Mike Caro | Exit
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.
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.
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 Poker1.com. 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