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Mike Caro

Last Update: 14. April 2014
“If aliens invaded earth and insisted on playing heads-up poker for control of the planet, I should be our representative in that game. I border on being an ego-maniac, so I mean it.”
Joplin, Missouri
Signal Hill, USA
poker writer and strategist
with his family when he was a kid
5 Card Draw Poker
He would abandon tournaments’ proportional-payout system and reward only the winner.
Elaborated the first poker-playing computer program; developed Poker Probe, the first commercial PC program for analyzing poker situations; wrote a number of books on poker strategy and psychology.

From a “retarded” kid to poker genius

You’ll never get a straight answer from Mike Caro on how he was introduced to the game of poker. He vaguely remembers playing with his parents and relatives in their downstairs room when he was about eleven years old. Back then, the main talking point was whether a flush beat a full house and only his uncle Bob seemed to know for certain. While at home everything was cozy for little Mike, he endured a tough time at school. His complex and peculiar character was too much of a mystery for the ignorant teachers who decided to hold him back in the 6th grade and put him in a special retarded class. Thankfully, one sane teacher bothered to investigate further and talked to Mike on a personal level. As a result, he was taken out of the retarded class and put into the accelerated class. This instant transition from zero to hero gave an early indication that there was a dormant genius in Mike, but it was up to him to fulfill his potential. Luckily for Caro he found his passion early in life. He was only interested in cards to such an extent that he would make his own card games and play them with himself rather than other children.

The breakthrough in poker literature

After becoming a professional poker player, Caro had to wait 14 years for a life-changing opportunity to knock on his door. When the legendary Doyle Brunson decided to write Super/System, the first profound book on poker, he invited the best players in different poker variations to contribute. Among them was Mike Caro, who at that time had no competition at Draw Poker (a game rarely played in public arena nowadays).

At first Caro was reluctant to share years of accumulated poker research with the outside world, but Brunson’s persuasive nature convinced him to reveal his secrets. In addition to the Draw Poker section, Caro covered statistics and wrote the first scientifically accurate set of almost 50 odds tables for poker. Such a novelty brought instant response and enthusiasm from poker players everywhere. It turned Caro’s life upside down and brought him the now famous nickname “The Mad Genius of Poker”.

The book that took almost 3 decades to publish

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Mike Caro and Doyle Brunson spent a lot of time together and formed a close friendship. It wasn’t long after the launch of Super/System that Doyle came with the idea to put out another book. They decided to write a about Bobby Baldwin and his poker story. To say that it took a while before the book came to life would be an understatement. In an interview given to Mike recalls with laughter those long, unproductive weeks, where he was doing everything expect writing the book. ”So every day we go down to Doyle’s office where he has all this stuff and everything, and we'd all sit down and say we’re going to talk about the book, but after a few minutes went by, we decided, screw it, we’re gonna go play poker.” And this went on for several weeks until Doyle decided to put down an edict: “You know, we’re gonna get this done. Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna go up to Lake Tahoe, we’re gonna rent a boat, we’re gonna go out to the middle of the lake, the three of us, and we’re gonna interview Bobby.”

And off they went to Lake Tahoe to conduct the interview, but as it turned out to be, the middle of a lake was far from the perfect place for such an occasion, especially when Doyle Brunson was more interested in taking a short swim in the ice-called water. A decision he regretted afterwards: “He jumps overboard and there’s this howl like you have never heard in your life, this most hideous horrendous howl as he falls into this ice-cold water, because the sun only warms the top inch of water”. There wasn’t any hint of an interview after what Doyle Brunson went through, and the book was put on hold again.

Finally things got going when Mike sat with Bobby and wrote the book entirely on the typesetting machine. Bobby Baldwin's “Winning Poker Secrets” is a great read for any poker fans. However, his greatest contribution to the game is “Mike Caro’s Book of Tells.” This book takes the reader away from the sophisticated strategy and deals with the psychology in poker.

Caro’s Poker University is a Hoax

Besides writing and programming, Caro’s lifelong dream is to create a proper poker university, with legitimate classes and graduates. A lot of people and reporters believe that it already exists. You can find thousands of entries about it on the internet, but it is not real in the physical sense, moreover, it’s a complete hoax according to Mike.”I launched it to do graduate programs and we would be a very formal kind of university-type environment. But we ended up being an organization that does a lot of research, all mind research basically, and puts its imprint on books and videos and I go all over the world doing seminars on poker, which are presented by the Mike Caro University of Poker, but as far as getting the graduate degrees and the real disciplined structure, I haven’t gotten there yet. So when people ask me about it, the simplest way to explain it is that it’s a hoax.”

Mike Caro – A Tribute to a poker genius

Nowadays, poker has become a huge money-making industry with worldwide exposure. Millions are playing online poker, and hundreds are entering live tournaments broadcasted by the best sports TV channels. The poker industry may be living in a glamorous and wealthy bubble, but the new poker generation would do well to know the heroes who propelled the game to the heights of today. Mike Caro is definitely one of the most influential poker figures. His monumental contributions to poker have added new dimensions and entertainment to the game. Caro has spent his entire life searching for new ways to improve poker, sharing his enormous knowledge with those interested in becoming more skilled and aware. Besides focusing on analytical aspect of the game, Caro has also explored in depth the psychology of poker. One of his greatest traits is combining his genius mind with a laissez-faire attitude to life.Whether you read his books or watch an interview, Mike Caro is a joy to listen. He may have spent the majority of his life in solitude, relentlessly perfecting those poker strategies, but that’s a life-style he’s enjoyed since he’s been playing cards with himself as a kid. Mike Caro has never been shy of his enormous ego, but that’s precisely what helped him stamp his name forever among the hallmark of great and innovative poker legends.

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