by Diane McHaffie
What is a rock? Mike Caro says it’s “a conservative player who is extremely disciplined and enters very few pots.”
Many players succeed because they’re rocks at the poker table. But that isn’t exciting enough for some. They frequently think it takes the fun and challenge out of the game. Instead of secure rocks, they’re just loosened stones, tumbling down the hillside in search of excitement. You can potentially win extra money by being more aggressive than a so-called rock, but don’t do it just for thrills.
Adventure. Mediocre players often resist the discipline of conservative play. They take risky chances, seeking adventure. They play weak cards, and they lose to the rocks. Had they chosen to be rocks, making good decisions with superior cards, it wouldn’t be happening.
Mike isn’t a rock. He’s more dramatic, and uses his wild, unpredictable image to build his bankroll. At his table, you will not be bored! But it takes experience to successfully employ his adventuresome image. That image needs polish to be profitable. Even Mike says he revisits the rock strategy occasionally.
Balance. Unfortunately, many players find themselves on a teeter-totter, attempting to balance between being a rock, and an adventurer. Observing poker celebrities being daredevils on TV suggests that it’s cool to stray from being a boring, secure rock. After watching this, players choose to venture down a risky, unfamiliar path, seeking excitement.
Sadly, these poor souls often end up lost in strange territory. It would be like me trying to rebuild an engine: I could successfully disassemble it, but putting it back together again would probably be impossible. Balance is necessary—deconstruct, and reconstruct.
So, if you choose a livelier poker path and your results aren’t favorable, it’s time to return to rock land. Unfortunately, it may take many hours to reconstruct the money lost in mere minutes of being on the wild side.
You can begin your career safely as a rock. Once you develop additional skills, you may be more inventive and daring. But sometimes you should willingly return to being a rock.
Losing. Especially practice discipline when your chips are evaporating. It’s difficult to project a conquering image when losing, as that’s not when opponents are intimidated by you. Remember, opponents rally when you’re down.
Being a rock is also essential when you’re involved in lowlimit rake games. The rake versus the size of the bet tends to be a major drawback. Therefore, you need to be more selective about the hands you play.
Wise. You don’t need especially strong hands to challenge loose opponents who are leaping fearlessly into pots with questionable cards. Making wise decisions is still key, but playing the role of a rock isn’t mandatory. Just play tighter than your opponents. Still, returning to rock status must remain part of your plan.
As a rock, you’ll find yourself subject to bullies and bluffers. They realize you’re not a thrill-seeker, and they’ll try to take full advantage. So, get ready to call more often. Once you’ve committed yourself to a pot, however, it’s time to be a conqueror. You’re a boulder, not a puny stone!
Ignore the fact that your opponents occasionally win with lousy hands. That’s temporary. Don’t allow this annoyance to chip into your armor by playing non-profitable hands. When you follow your opponent’s lead by playing menial hands, you’re permitting them to become rock chippers, and your bankroll will suffer.
As your game evolves, maintain rock strategy as part of your arsenal. You can be a rock with panache!
Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at firstname.lastname@example.org.