Mike Caro's law of loose wiring



Things get strange in poker and in life. But you have a great deal of control over the weirdness.
Understanding "Caro's Law of Loose Wiring" will give you a huge headstart toward controlling your opponents.
Listen! (Click here to listen to Mike Caro). If you'd like, follow along with the text below...
By special arrangement with DoylesRoom.com, this is “the Mad Genius of Poker” Mike Caro, beaming directly to Earth from my galaxy, where all truth is known…

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.

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:

“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. In pot A, the pot was almost $4,000 large and the showdown was between seats five and six. In pot B, the pot was only $950 and the showdown was between seats three and seven, instead of five and six.

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 $950 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.

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 – or raised. 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 different 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.

So, you need to remember that outcomes can only be predictable when your opponents have clear choices. 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 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.

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. You are that wind. That’s why psychology is important in poker.

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.”

On behalf of DoylesRoom.com, this is “The Mad Genius of Poker” Mike Caro and that’s my secret today.
I'm having a little trouble grasping this tbh. Any comments on it or opinions?

I LOVE Mike Caro's very simplified theories and strategies, and his writing has always had a huge impact on me and my game. He has a shitload of stuff on his poker site poker1.com, and I hate to link to another forum, but his writing is honestly worth a look. He isn't called the mad genius of poker for nothing.

Anyways just thought I'd share and see what you guys thought of this...
Egon Towst

Egon Towst

Cardschat Elite
It`s expressed in broad terms, Chuck, and capable of more than one interpretation.

The main idea I take from it is this: If you are first to act in a betting round, your action (whether fold, check, or bet) becomes a major piece of the information on which players to your left base their decision. Therefore, early position players have the possibility, by their behaviour, to influence opponents to their advantage.

This makes reasonable sense, though it runs somewhat contrary to the usual perception that late position is most advantageous.


Hey Chuck,

I've read pretty much everything on Poker1.com. I got there before I found Cardschat and to be honest lots of it is very useful.

All I think he's saying here is that most people don't understand why they make the decisions they make at the table. And because of this, if you can make specific decisions and understand the benefits of those decisions you can then manipulate the opponents you play against who don't. Caro is also all about playing people in a live setting, so when at a table you can develop influence over opponents who aren't all that experienced or aware of the psychological realities of the game.

What do you think?


Cool; that's pretty much what I got out of it last night (4AM :eek:) but it didn't really sink in yet. The key thing being
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.”

I found it kind of odd how he said that

Nothing I could possibly teach you is more important than Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring.

I find this 'law' interesting, but don't see how it could be the most important thing to teach people...
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

euro love
Caro's "law" is stressing the point that while it's nice to be able to dissect a hand rationally, people aren't rational. If I'm in a situation where I might as well raise as fold, it's not entirely clear what makes me go for one or the other. I mean, I'm not randomly going to fold the nuts. But I might randomly fold a mediocre hand, and call with it otherwise.

If you can "steer" me in the direction you want, then you'll be able to induce a fold or a call, depending on what you're after. That's what this article is about.


Jeez...I really was 1/2 asleep last night. Forgot completely about why he said this was such a good rule (pretty much what you just summed up, FP). It's how psychology takes its effect in poker by doing this 'steering'. Making people change their minds on those marginal decisions to give you a better outcome.

Thanks for the input guys! I hope to post more stuff from Mike Caro in the future for more analysis.


Ok ok ok I *think* I have a handle on this that other folks may not... or it could be the 4am and too much coca-cola speaking. Anyway, this is what I saw immediately in his (VERY interesting) article. He says that

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

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't that pretty much saying that

"If people don't know what happens when they push a button, then random stuff can happen because people might push ANY button at all."


What has been failed to mention is this however... Mike's Law has a corrolary. I'll call it Lana's Corrolary for short. It goes like this

"If definite choices produce definitive outcomes then people's behaviour becomes increasingly predictable".

As we all know, predicting behaviour at a card table is the difference between winning with 7-2 offsuit and losing with A-K suited.

So here's what I glean from Mike's Law...

DO YOUR BEST to connect a specific choice to a specific benefit, from your opponent's viewpoint, and their behaviour will become more and more predictable the more you do this.

For example, chose one of your opponents and target them specifically. Let's say that EVERY TIME he raises 3x the BB preflop, you re-raise him 6x the BB. Make no special exeptions, make no special rules. Don't try to talk yourself out of it just because you happen to be holding rags to his pocket pair. What you're doing ISN'T attempting to win the pot. You are SPENDING chips in the pursuit of influencing his behaviour in the future. There will come a time when you can use this influence to your advantage.

Have I overstated the Law? Thoughts? Criticisms??