Poker and Rock, Paper, Scissors

Poker and Rock, Paper, ScissorsMike Caro’s nickname as ‘The Mad Genius of Poker’ is well chosen. Resembling a cross between Sigmund Freud and Dr Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy, if someone told you that he could travel back in time to find out why you grasp your earlobes in times of stress, you would nod your head.

Luckily for us mortals of the felt, Caro is now more famous as a leading poker ‘theorist’ and seems happier playing with statistical tables. To this end, he founded the ‘Mike Caro University of Poker, Gambling and Life Strategy’ and was one of a handful of individuals who believed online poker could be a money-spinner.

His theories, when extricated from some of the ‘Life Strategy’, are always worthy of consideration. In one of his lectures, he compares poker to the game Rock, Paper, Scissors.

For the rules of the latter game, there is no optimum strategy to win every time – rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock. If you are to have any edge over your opponent, you have to predict how he’ll play. Caro then expands the metaphor to poker and offers a practical example.

He puts three hands on the table, asks his opponent to pick one, and then he chooses the ideal one of the remaining two. (It is not a perfect comparison to Rock, Paper, Scissors as he knows his opponent’s choice before he acts.)

The hands are: 4c,4h  /  Jh,10h  /  Ac, Ks

It makes his point well – if his opponent picks the two fours, Caro opts for jack-ten and will win 53% of the time; likewise, if the sucker chooses AK, Mad Genius awards himself 44 and profits in 54% of the battles; and finally, if his hapless student fancies jack-ten, AK is snatched up and Caro takes 59%.

He then indulges his love of mumbo-jumbo and goes a bit Lion-King by suggesting that the above is an example of the ‘circle of strength’. He calls this, with a nod again to both mysticism and ego, ‘Caro’s Conception’

It states: ‘ In life, strength is sometimes circular. Therefore, the conqueror can be an underdog to an entity too weak even to defeat what has already been conquered.’

In lay-men’s terms, this means that it can be a mistake to believe there is ‘a best hand’ and the key to survival is adaptability. Therefore, and back to a Friday night’s online session, when you are staring at leagues of multi-tabling rocks, you have to work out how to become paper. It is here that some of Caro’s points stumble. He argues that rocks lose out because they are unobservant and fail to steal pots – which is true, but only to a point.

In a tournament, with increasing blinds they lose out – but in online cash games, spread across twelve tables, they have the time to wait and there are usually plenty of fish to pay them off. Their hourly rate may suffer but they rarely lose money as they are only investing in premium hands.

It is possible to beat rocks but it is a task about as pleasurable and time-consuming as papering the Grand Canyon. It is better, when possible, to leave the quarry and look elsewhere. If that is not possible, steal blinds, don’t ever call their all-in bets unless you have the nuts, stay patient and make more from the looser players.

Good luck.

Playing against rocks can make a person question their life strategy. Indeed, play for the real thing and get your party pants down to Bookmaker Poker. (Players from around the world including the USA are welcome)

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