Mike Caro poker word is Wiring

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2006) in Poker Player newspaper.

Strange things happen at the poker table – unexpected things. Weird hands win. Again and again. Over and over.

It just never stops. But poker is like life, you see. And in life, real life, unusual things occur all around us. I’m talking about things that can’t be predicted.

Isn’t it the irregular, shocking, and strange happenings that we’re most likely to talk about? We’re obsessed. How could these things be?

Well, today I’ll tell you how they can be —– and why. After you understand this primary concept that governs your everyday existence and your poker experiences, finally you’ll be prepared for victory. Maybe you think I’m overstating this, but I’m not.

Please give me a chance to explain. Here’s a lecture I delivered on the topic many years ago…

Exploring loose wires

Nothing I could possibly teach you is more important than Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring. It not only governs the vast majority of the poker hands you’re ever going to be involved in, it’s the key to understanding why so many strange things happen in life. Although this is a concept I’ve talked about for over 25 years, I didn’t put the wording on paper until just a few years ago.

Imagine wires for logical circuits that are loose and need to be connected. They can be connected in various ways to accomplish things – some wanted, some unwanted; and they can short out.

Here’s what Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring says about people. Listen closely, but if you don’t grasp it all, that’s OK, because I’ll repeat it later in this short lecture.

Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring

If choices are not clearly connected to their benefits, people usually interact in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.

If choices are clearly connected to their benefits, people sometimes act in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.

Clearly connected

Now, it’s the first part I want to talk about today: “If choices are not clearly connected to their benefits, people usually interact in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.” And with poker players, it sounds this way: “If choices are not clearly connected to their benefits, players usually interact in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.”

In the first column I ever wrote defining my Law of Loose Wiring, I used a poker example from an imagined $75/$150 limit hold ’em game – Pot A and Pot B.

Pot A was almost $4,000 large and the showdown was between seats five and six.

Pot B was only $950 and the showdown was between seats three and seven, instead of five and six.

The hands

Then I showed the hands that led to the eventual showdowns for both pots, A and B. And, by golly, they were the same, seat for seat, card for card.

What was even more mysterious – I explained that these two pots were actually played in parallel universes with identical players, having identical personalities, with the same chips, the same moods to begin the hand, everything the same.

Now, you’re saying, something must have been different. You can’t have one pot of $4,000 and one pot of $1,000 at the same limits, with the same players, the same moods, the same chips, the same cards, and a different pair of opponents competing at the showdown for vastly different-sized pots. Oh, yes you can. And when you understand this very important fact, you’re ready to enter the next tier of poker training.

Poker by whim

What happens is that most poker decisions are not clear cut. The decisions are made by whim.

A player confronts a hand that can either be played or not be played, that can either be called with or folded, that you could decide to pass, call, or raise. And if the benefits of making one of those decisions over another is not clear to your oppponents, anything can happen.

And it gets stranger. Not only can anything happen with the first players to decide, but their decisions greatly influence the next players. Now, other players are faced with a different situation, and there are other marginal decisions to be made where the benefits of one choice over another are unclear. And the result of this interaction among players can be almost anything at all.

Invisible forces

So, you need to remember that outcomes can only be predictable when your opponents have clear choices. Even then, they will sometimes stray – mostly at whim.

They are guided by invisible forces influencing them at the last second. Maybe a clatter of dishes across the room breaks their concentration and makes them call rather than fold. Maybe a bad feeling caused by a chance fleeting memory makes them to get out of the pot. Who knows?

And who knows in real-life beyond the poker table, either? That’s where Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring really comes into play.

Most decisions that people make are not clearly connected to benefits. So anything is possible, and when those decisions at whim influence other people’s marginal decisions who act later, almost any history can be written.

You have control

But what this means in poker is that you have control of your opponents most of the time. Since most of their decisions aren’t clear, they’re willing to be steered.

They’re precariously balanced and a small gust of wind can send them toppling in the direction of your choice. That’s why psychology is important in poker.

So, let’s repeat the main part of Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring one more time. Listen:

“If choices are not clearly connected to their benefits, people usually interact in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.”

So, at poker, your opponents will usually be playing borderline hands, not extremely strong or extremely weak ones. And their decisions won’t be obvious to them. Their choices will not be clearly connected to their benefits.


Realizing this, you now know that you have a great deal of control over your opponents. Anyone who ever told you that psychology doesn’t matter much, because the cards play themselves in poker, didn’t understand this powerful universal law of behavior. But now you do.

One last time – Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring:

“If choices are not clearly connected to their benefits, people usually interact in ways that make outcomes unpredictable.”

This is “The Mad Genius of Poker” Mike Caro and that’s my secret today. — 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.


8 thoughts on “Mike Caro poker word is Wiring”

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  1. As usual, Mike points out something that should be obvious to all of us; poker players that is. People are looking for reasons to do the things they do and we have the power to influence those decisions. Some players try to be “table captain,” in order to force decisions by other players. Some lay back and wait for the action to come to them and then try to influence the play. However they do it, it still comes down to getting others to do what you want them to do. Consciously or unconsciously we all try to control the actions of others, either in life or at the poker table. Like Mike says, Life is Poker and Poker is Life.

  2. Last Saturday I was at Calder Race Track (Studz Poker Room) here in South Florida
    for the 11am tournament. With 95 people entered,I made it down to the last two tables,
    but my medium stack was becoming a small stack with the now 1600 big blind & 300 ante.
    Trash hand after trash hand was thrown my way as I watched others dragging in the large pots.
    Felling a bit frustrated, I felt slightly better when I received an Ace-9 mixed, which
    ranks #39 when played heads-up (Caros’s Official Hold’em Rankings. See page 58 of “Caro’s Most
    Profitable Hold’em Advice”). So one player puts in 3200 and everyone dutifully folds except me.
    On a whim, I decided to bluff this guy, so I went all in. Very scary! I then put on an act of
    not being afraid by looking at him and smiling, but his eyes would not meet mine. He stroked
    his chips over and over again and just as he was about to call, he suddenly threw his hand away. Whew! The pot was mine! Happy me!
    So I bluffed all-in on a whim when I really wanted to fold, and he folded on a whim when he really wanted to call! Mike! You are so insightful! Best wishes, Daniel.

    1. You seem to have missed the point here of what he is trying to tell you.

  3. Hi Mike, I have practiced distracting others when I did not want them to call. Doing as you suggested, rattling my chips, laughing etc. It works every time for me. Thanks Mike, Dorothy

  4. For the life of me, I still have not figured out how I have control over my opponents decisions. I raise 3X BB with AQd, and someone on a whim decides to see flop with 97 OS. Flop comes 9, d, d, I bet 3X pot, they call, turn is Queen, I push, they get a 7 on river and beat my queens with 99 77 and I have nothing left but a busted flush draw and I’ve lost 3/4 of my chips. This type of thing happens to me all the time. Maybe I’m just unlucky and I should stop playing poker? Or, I’m doing something wrong and I need to plug the holes in my game to have some modicum of success? I’ve been playing for 6 years, I really hate to give up something I enjoy that in theory could make me money… Sincerely, TJPokerKing

    1. Yes you lose a big pot like that sometimes. But other times you look at your stack and wonder…. where did some of these extra chips come from. Well, they came from the identical twin in the parallel universe, that didn’t feel like chasing one down all the way at that particular moment in time :)

  5. This really is an good article to ponder and consider how it plays out in life. I can feel my brain stretching!

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