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The Search for Poker in the Ozarks
Caro on Gambling
by Mike Caro

Iíve relocated Mike Caro University of Poker to the Ozarks, where poker seems misunderstood. Iím not far from Branson, Missouri, secluded in a forest on Table Rock Lake, waiting for poker students to flock to my remote outpost. The problem with poker in the Ozarks is that there isnít any! Almost anywhere I go, being a poker pro and authority is a conversation starter; here itís a conversation stopper. But, I might be living in the best place on earth. My wife Phyllis and I did a two-year search for the best mix of friendliness, seclusion, lakes, forests, animals, shopping, weather, low crime, and nearby noteworthy places to visit. This area scored tops.

Travel or Poker Column?
Thereís Bransonójust 25 miles east, with more than 50 live theaters. Youíre thinking: Is this a travel column or what? Well, no, it isnít. Where was I? Thereís Eureka Springs, 20 minutes south in Arkansas, formerly a hippie hang-out, now very quaint, but commercial. The biggest craft shows in the country are held here. There are caves to explore, plus one of the top theme parks in the country, called Silver Dollar City. Bet you never heard of it. Thatís because the media simply overlooks this part of the country as if it didnít exist. Well, Mike Caro University of Poker is located here now, so it exists now. Besides, this area isnít a secret to everyone. Itís the number one RV destination in the country, for godsakes!

Where is poker played?
Now the sad part; I canít find any poker. Not that I came here to play pokerówhenever I want to beat up on my opponents, Iíll just book my ticket on the Internet, drive a few miles to the airport, go to sleep, and when I wake up, Iím ready to kick ass. Meanwhile, Iím in the forest with satellite Internet connection.

So, you can count on thisóthat promised new research will finally be completed right here at MCU, Ozarks. Anyway, I started off by telling you that people around these parts arenít impressed when they learn Iím a poker authority. They probably would be, if they knew what poker was, exactly. What impresses them is if I go out to my balcony in the middle of the night and fire off three rounds from my rifle. Iíve been doing that a lot lately. Whodda thunk it?

Wrong place?
Iíll bet you grew up like I did, where almost everyone had a run-in with poker. Well, it isnít that way here. This is the most poker-deprived area Iíve ever encountered. So, you tell me, is this the wrong place for ďthe Mad Genius of Poker?Ē Will poker players bother to come here if I offer lessons or do seminars? Will I be sitting here all alone, shuffling and waiting, shuffling and waiting, shuffling? No, Iím tired of shuffling. In 30 seconds, Iíll be walking down a path to the lake. And Iím going to fish!

This story was originally published in the Winter 2002-2003 issue of Gambling Times Magazine.

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