Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mike Caro speaks

You ever notice that in every photo you see of Mike Caro his hair is always sticking up? Does an unkempt mane imply madness, thereby earning him the moniker “Mad Genius of Poker?”

Caro’s hair was relatively combed as he took the stage in the Doyle's Room suite on Wednesday morning to give a seminar on hold’em play. It was standing room only as the crowd squeezed into the suite to listen to one of the original contributors of Super/System.

He opened the seminar with one of his classic tells – that the way players stack chips indicates how they’ll play.

“Conservative means conservative,” Caro said. “If it’s haphazard it’s their personality coming out. Expect them to be loose and reckless.”

Caro then proceeded into a number of tips for limit play, including his advice not to raise in middle position on the final betting round without the nuts.

“You’re much better off calling unless you have an unbeatable hand,” he said.

Caro also advised listeners not to play pocket twos through fours from an early position unless their foes are weak, and to always fold pocket twos through sevens from an early seat in a percentage payoff tournament.

The “mad genius” roamed side to side across the stage as he discussed the penalty of winning a poker tournament. “You have to win all the chips to get the trophy and then you have to give them away,” he said. “You’d rather stumble into [first] if you play for profit.”

In another tell tip, Caro said that players reaching for chips indicate they don’t want you to bet, so go ahead and put chips in the pot. “They’ve just told you that you don’t have to fear someone making an aggressive bet,” he said.

Caro advised the crowd not to put their opponent on a hand, but a range of hands. “You’ll never win at poker if you analyze it like chess.”

Even top players make the mistake of betting too much on the flop or pre-flop, according to Caro. The most profitable routine bet in no limit is one less than the size of the pot, he said. Caro also advised just calling preflop more often to see how the hand develops.

In his final tell of the seminar, Caro said to watch for a player making a little extra motion with their hand at the end of the bet. He said this is a sign of a weak hand or bluff.

In his “final affirmation,” Caro, clad in jeans and a sport coat, asked the crowd to repeat with him, “I am a lucky player. A powerful winning force surrounds me.”

Suddenly, one had to wonder if he had stumbled into a Tony Robbins seminar instead…

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