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playing poker and teaching science

playing poker and teaching science

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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle school science teacher, wrestling coach, poker player, scuba diver, aikido black belt, amateur writer, and student of life. I also try to give back a little by volunteering for a month or so each summer at a children's home in Belmopan, Belize, Central America.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lady Antebellum and slow playing top two

The concert season got off to a stellar start with Lady Antebellum at Klipsch Music Center. The outdoor center previously known as Deer Creek and then Verizon is consistently in the top ten outdoor music venues in the country and just a great place for live music.

At one point the performers moved to a small stage near the sound board to do a set and ended up within spitting distance of my seat! Not that I would actually spit on them. That would be rude. It gave a real up close experience however!
One concert down and four to go!

In poker news, I'm building the sockroll for the my August 3rd trip to Vegas and had another winning session at the local VFW booking a solid $257 win. At no point in the evening was I down, but hovered just above my original buy in for the first 90 minutes when this hand occurred:

I look down at AQh on the button and raise to $12 after four limpers, a standard raise for the table which will get any range of callers. This time however I got only one. The flop was A8x and checked to me. I bet out $16 expecting to take it down right then, but was raised to $37.

I've read that poker players decide what they are going to do in the first five seconds after presented with a decision and I usually feel I do just that. I don't take a long time to act in general but lately have been telling myself to think things through just a little longer.

The only four hands I'm afraid of are AA, AK, A8, and 88 and only A8 felt right for the situation. I finally decided to push. I counted out the raise and announced, "I'm all-in."

I've decided that the best feeling a poker player can ever have is when you say you are all in and don't immediately hear the villain call. The longer he's in the tank the better you feel because you're already way ahead or your bluff has a good chance of not being called.

He tanked for a reasonable amount of time, said "I didn't put you on an ace," and then called with his suited A4. Not a bad calling hand PRE flop, but all in?

Nice hand, sir.

The games can be soft or action-packed at the VFW and Friday was a pretty soft game. Most st the table were laughing and having a good time. I folded a lot more preflop this week as I've been trying to focus on only playing in good position and it really paid off. I had a solid table image and slowly kept chipping up.

One player tried to get creative slow playing top two pair and it checked around on a board of  AKx. If he had made any bet at all I would have folded my late position QJ. The 10 on the turn though gave me the mortal nuts and I won a very nice pot.

His response was, "I always get drawn out on!"

I didn't tap the glass...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Running it twice

Situation one:
I flipped ove my hand and said, "I have the nuts, do you want to run it twice?" Villain said, "Of course!" He made his flush on the first run and and broadway held up on the second turn and river. That's when the fun began.

The dealer told us to pull our stacks back and Villain started asking why, stating that he had the nuts. Apparently he honestly didn't understand what "running it twice" meant. The best part about playing at the local American Legion is that the regulars may be a bit predictable in their play, but they are knowledgeable about the game.

Villain was in seat nine and I was in seat one so I didn't even have to look at him. I just leaned back in my chair and let the table handle it. They spent five minutes explaining what happened, but very time one said, "He had the nuts," Villain would counter with, "No. Look. I have the nuts," as he matched his A8s to the cards on the table.

Finally one nice old guy said, "His heart was in the right place when he offered to run it twice."

At long last the dealer chopped the pot.

Situation two:
LAG Asian gentleman (who always shows up late to play on Friday nights after his restaurant closes), makes a big bet with rags to push player A out, then offers to chop the pot with the all-in player B. Player B declines and wins with 10 10 to a board conatining an Ace. Player A was PISSED as he folded had an ace. I thought it might come to blows.

Another fun night at the American Legion. Also profitable thanks to the regulars enforcing the rules of cash play.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fun In The Sun

I'm certain I've said it before, but there are few places that are as fun to get away to for a sun-soaked spring break as Cozumel. The weather was beautiful, the water warm and inviting, and the company was fantastic. If you ever go there, rent a car from the unfortunately-named Isis rental company, and tour the island in an old VW Beatle convertible. SO much fun!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Summer plans

It's that time of year again where teachers prepare for spring break and start making plans for the upcoming summer, and plan I am!

1. Spring break: Heading back to Cozumel for a little R&R at the all-inclusive Hotel Cozumel and Resort, which boasts the largest swimming pool on the island.


2. Cancun in June: My oldest little sister hasn't had a vacation in 13-14 years as she has a child with special needs. Therefore, my youngest little sister is coming to town to watch her boys so we can take off for a week in Cancun.


3. Let's not forget the summer concerts! I have Kid Rock tickets in hand and look forward to a Jimmy Buffett concert announcement any day now.


4. Air fare sale: Allegiant Air has ventured into the Indianapolis market and with their arrival have announced some amazing sales. As a result I have a trip booked to Las Vegas for the first week in August, the week before starting back to school. $256 round trip AND non-stop. Not a bad way to end the summer.
5. New concert added! Lady Antebellum in May :-)

6.

Hey. It's a once in a lifetime thing. Especially Keith Richards lifetime. So I bought tickets!

7. The list is getting longer as summer approaches:
How can I miss James Taylor live?

8. I guess it's going to be a musical season. I just added Zac Brown to the list:


More summer updates to come!

Monday, January 05, 2015

2014 Things to remember

My annual things to remember post, in no particular order:
1. First trip to Mexico all alone. Stayed at the Hotel Cozumel and Resort. A very relaxing trip.
2. Second trip to Mexico. Stayed at the El Cid. A great choice!
3. Another fantastic trip to Hawaii where my sister and I hiked the Kalalau trail on Kauai.
4. Brief encounter with a stalker.
5. Got on a heater in Vegas! Two tournament wins and +$1000 on the cash table all within a 24 hour period.
6. My first Thanksgiving at my son's house.
7. All new furnishings in my home.
8. A wrestling trip to Oklahoma City.
9. An inpromptu Christmas trip to Daytona Beach.
10. Starting a new chapter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Calculations

As poker players, math is soemthing we should embrace, right? I ran my math for the year so far and found that I am making a respectable $76 per session playing no limit Hold Em. I can live with that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fall Break

I'm a big fan of traveling to Mexico for sun and relaxation and with my school's new calendar I have an entire week in October to do just that. I tried out a new all-inclusive resort on the island of Cozumel this time and highly recommend it. The El Cid is a little smaller than some resorts, but features wonderful service, good food, and crystal clear water only steps away.

Friday, August 08, 2014

OTP Nation

While I was in Hawaii this summer RIMPAC, a gathering of navies from all over the Pacific, was going on at Pearl Harbor and in the news every day. One news anchor used a phrase that I immediately claimed as the name of my band in the event I choose to start one.

Therefore, I am officially claiming the name "Outta Town Pimps" and all the marketing rights thereof.

It's official. I'm the new leader of OTP Nation.

It's an idea worth tens of dollars!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The measure of a man


 
The Kalalau Trail on the island of Kauai is listed in the top ten most dangerous hikes in the United States. This information in retrospect should be something one finds out more than one day before one begins such a hike. Hey, I was a little behind in my research. Sorry!

Wrestlers have a saying: "Water is for the weak." I came to find out however that water is also for the severely dehydrated and failing to keep adequately hydrated during the most grueling physical activity I have ever attempted leads to excruciating leg cramps, dizziness, and near total exhaustion.

But I digress...

When you strike out on the Kalalau trail you lose cell coverage in the parking lot of the trail head and immediately begin to climb. Kalalau hosts12 miles of exhausting trails that feature multiple treks from sea level to above 800 feet in very short periods of horizontal distance. The result being that all of your thigh muscles are engaged for extraordinary periods of time, to the point in fact that they begin to quiver with each and every step.

Then you reach Crawler's Ridge.

Crawlers Ridge is the part of the trail that turns some people back. It's a mile of VERY steep downhill. The path is volcanic and might as well be made of small ball bearings because you literally slide with every step. Also, the gail force winds pound you every step of the way. The trail is less than a foot wide in places with nothing to stop your fall from a misstep except the rocks 600 feet below.

Good times.


When every step brings pain, some people just sit down and quit. On Kalalau however there is no quitting. You HAVE to go on. Quitting just simply not an option. With each step I swallowed the pain and told myself there was no other alternative. I had to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

We made it to the trail end beach and waterfall and set up camp, fighting cramping quads all the time. One day of rest later we were back on the trail, lesson learned. Even proper hydration however cannot stop the constant stress on your thigh muscles. The last two miles again were fraught with pain and exhausted, quivering muscles.

An experience like this really can't be properly conveyed with words. It becomes a true measure of how tough you are and how much pain you can endure. I know I was literally pushed PASSED my physical limits and still kept moving.

A challenge like Kalalau gives you insight into your true metal...

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

I'm just not a nice guy.

"I guess I'm just a nice guy I guess because I'm going to call."

That's a direct quote from the player on my right at Friday night poker sponsored by the American Legion. I've written about this game previously here and here. His opponent called two small bets and then led out when the FOURTH diamond hit the board. He called with his two pair which were NOT the top two incidently. He went on to say that he knew he was beat but that he called anyway.

Later he bet out on the river on a board that contained two tens and little else and was upset that his 10 6 full house did not get paid off. When ask why he would play 10 6 as first to act he said it was only for $2.

This is the same guy who was critisizing his opponent's play and giving advice on the best way to play hand after hand. He was predicatble at best, a calling station at worst, and obviously a losing player and yet he gave advice non-stop.

When he ask me directly, I agreed with him every step of the way. We never want the poor players to improve, right?

The player to my left was an older lady. I re-raised to $25 with KK and she called. I bet $50 into a flop of J, 3, 6 rainbow and she called. The board paired 6 and i pushed all-in for another $95 and actually told her that she should fold if she didn't pair the 6. She called with a straight draw and missed one of her 8 outs.

She went on to talk about how she was pot committed and that she'll call down any two cards and that's why she was hard to play against. I actually told her I would have called there as well but I'm was laughing to myself. I found her very predictable and again, a losing player.

Maybe I'm just not a very nice guy. I don't want to give ONE DIME when I know I'm beat and I don't throw money away chasing a pipe dream draw.

I'll let the losing players be nice!

Monday, April 14, 2014

It was one of those days... (a trip report)

A life lesson from the movie The Hangover: "You never walk away from the table when you're on a heater." 

As poker players, we've all said it at one time or another, "It was one of those days."

How was it said though? Is it said with enthusiasm and excitement or is it said softly while shaking your head side to side? In my case the sentence was followed by an exclaimation point rather than three dots.

Lesson learned. I stayed at the table and played my heater, and that's exactly what it was, a HEATER. It was a 24 hour period playing poker unlike any other I have experienced. In that time frame I chopped top three, then top two in consecutive tournaments, and then won a little more than $1000 at the cash table.

To me, poker is all about numbers and patterns. There are the ever present numbers; the math of the game. And then there are the patterns of the other players. When do they bet? When do they fold? When do they bluff? CAN they be bluffed? All the things that happen at the table fall into a pattern for me. Conversly, I try to NOT let myself fall into those predictable patterns, but at the same time try to make it seem as if I AM playing those same patterns.

Tuesday morning I landed in Las Vegas and knowing I couldn't check into my room until later that day, had the taxi drop me at The Orleans to play a little Omaha 8/b, one of my favorite games. I splashed around in a game I don't get to play very often, probably played too many pots because of my desire to play, and left down a few red chips.

I checked into my room at the Luxor, a place I have never stayed before, and went downstairs and immediately got a seat. Then the cards started to hit me in the face!

It began benighly. I was dealtt pocket kings and made the standard raise to $11 and got two callers. The flop was unconnected small cards so I bet the pot and got one caller. Another small card I bet, was raised, reraised thinking I'd been cold decked, and doubled through QQ. Ouch for him. Yay for me. Two other times I had QQ over JJ and 10 10 over 99 and all were winners

You know how you're scared of the guy that's on a roll? For once I was the guy people were scared of! When I raised and missed the flop they all folded to my continuation bets. When I raised with my semi-bluffs, they all folded. I was the table captain with the big hands I hit and the way I controlled the betting.

It was one of those days!

Sidebar: I really enjoyed the Luxor poker room. They had some fun promotions in the morning where they gave a raffle ticket with every pot won and drew a number for $100 every hour (yes, I won one), and also hade out $100-$500 for quads and better hands. (I never got quads!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Spring Break anyone?

Another spring break and another trip or two. I'm flying solo this year so I thought I'd try out a new spot, the Hotel Cozumel and Resort. Trip Advisor gives it good rating but I'll will wait and see. There's sand, ocean, and sun. That'll do!

I had the trip booked and then I found out I had US Air points that were about to expire, so I used them for a flight to Las Vegas. Three days of playing poker sounds like a good way to spend the SECOND week of spring break this year! As a bonus, my brother will be joining me.




Monday, February 03, 2014

Hello 10 8


I was out with friends last Friday and didn’t think I’d play at the American Legion, but decided to stop in at about 10 for an hour or so of play. Most players seem to buy one bag of $50 in chips but I generally buy in for $100. This night I just bought the one bag because I was just going to splash a few pots and then head home.

I sat down in the three seat right behind the button and look down at 10 8 off-suit and toss in two white chips when it looks like this is a limping table. A suited 10 and 8 is one of my favorite hands to play but I only called here because of all the limpers. Then the big bling tosses in $4 more to sweeten the pot. Several callers later I’m priced in.

No big deal. I’m just here for a beer and a little poker fun.

The flop is 10 8 3 rainbow. The big blind bets $9 and gets two callers ahead of me. I then raise to $31, about three-quarters of the pot, and almost my entire stack! I get one caller. The turn is a deuce and I toss in my last chips thinking maybe I’ll go home early and get called by 10 3 suited.

Yes. He called a raise with 10 3.

I played exactly one hand and my $50 buy in is already up to $133. HELLO!

I played for another hour and left up $173, bringing the American Legion total for the year at just under $500.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Playing poorly

I knew it while it was happening but didn't really know what to do about it. Is it sometimes okay to just check, call all the way down?

Here's the situation: I had only been at my seat in the local American Legion game for half an orbit when I was dealt 85 offsuit in the small blind and limped into an unraised pot along with no less than seven other callers. The flop was 875. Turn 10. River King. Long story short, I check-call the entire way and take down a $100+ pot when the missed flush draw on the river put out a bluff that was too small to push the high pair and my two pair off the hand.

I wasn't proud of the way I played the hand, but with the texture of the board I was facing getting stacked on the first hand I played...

I felt like a fish but won the hand and the double up gave me chips to push people around as the night progressed.

Side bar: The game at the American Legion is a hoot! There is an eclectic mix of old timers with young bucks. There are two young players who sit wearing mirrored sunglasses behind the their $50 buy-in waiting for the WPT babes to pick them out to interview. The middle aged guys who are the WORST poker players ever discussing the merrits of calling a big raise with 72o, every time. Hysterical people watching!

I did have a moral delimma when I stacked a young kid (not a veteran) in a wheelchair. In my defense, he was betting into my nut flush and it was a very expensive wheelchair.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Very Josie has a favor to ask:

Here's a chance to do some good:

Very Josie has a favor to ask of you - Go read about it here: http://veryjosie.blogspot.com/2014/01/ahem-its-very-josie.html

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Things to remember 2013

My annual post about my top things to remember for 2013 (in no particular order):

1. Conducting my own son's wedding (Ok. That IS number one!)
2. NCAA Wrestling national in Des Moines
3. The Aventura Spa Palace in Cancun (great spa!)
4. Spring break in Jamaica (Lydsay was a great guide)
5. Camping with my nephew
6. Another volunteer trip to The King's Home in Belize
7. Three days on a sailboat in Key West
8. Two weeks in Italy (Venice, Florence, The Banfi vineyard, Rome, and Sorrento)
9. A December trip to New Orleans
10. The end of one chapter and the beginning of another
11. Another winning year at the poker table.

What will 2014 have in store? I already have trips booked to Cozumel and Vegas because I get TWO weeks spring break now :-)

Monday, December 02, 2013

Why would you do that? Why would you do that?

I enjoyed another winning session at the local American Legion Friday evening with a fun hand that had the entire table laughing and sent one player into a downward tilting spiral. I had lost 1/3 of my buy-in when my two pair was out flopped by the nut straight so I was sitting on about $68 when this hand occurred:

I called a $10 raise on the button with 7c9c and saw a flop of Ad8c6c with four other callers. Soon-to-be-tilted guy bets $10 and gets two callers. I have a flush and straight draw but am also happy to take down the $80 pot right there. I carefully count out my chips, put my final $13 on my cards because I had forgotten my card protector, and announced a raise to $47, a little over half the pot.

Honestly, I was raising that amount simply because it was a little over half the pot. That fact was lost on the one player left. He fixated on me holding $13 back and couldn't let it go.

He'd placed himself in a poor position by raising with a weak ace. Any solid player would fold here because I must have a better hand, right? Unless he reads me as a complete bluff, he's a dog to win the hand... But he couldn't let it go.

"Why would you do that?"

"Why would you keep $13 dollars behind? Why not push all-in? Aren't you afraid of the flush?"

Then he flashed the ace of clubs, which told me he DID NOT have two flush cards. The ace high flush calls right away. So he has ace-no-kicker and that makes me the favorite, even though he's currently ahead.

"I read a book that said this is the correct play," I told him. Now the entire table is laughing and talking about the hand and what he should do. In a casino this would be frowned on, by this is a group of guys largely just out for a good time.

That pushed his button and he called. The next card completed my flush, I pushed, he called saying "now I have to see" and I raked in a nice pot.

Showing the flush sent him over the edge. He didn't even notice that I had a straight draw as well. He went on to tilt off two more buy-ins, and every time someone made a big bet they would leave a few chips behind and bring it to the attention of the entire table.

It made for a great time, as well as profitable!

-t

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

All grown up

Good thing she's pretty...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Predictable Poker


I started to write, “They weren’t very good poker players,” but I realized that statement would not have been necessarily accurate. The players at my table knew the etiquette of poker, knew the standard plays people make, knew how to bluff, and were for the most part playing solid holdings. I decided that they weren’t poor players; what they WERE was predictable.

For only the third time I found myself with no specific plans on a Friday night, so I went down to the local American Legion post that I mentioned here. There were two tables already going and a third opened shortly and I took the three seat with four others.

The session began oddly. I was the small blind and it folded around. I asked the big blind if he wanted to chop and he said he couldn’t. He was young and I assumed him to just be an aggressive player who would be raising a lot. What I found was that he was predictable. I lost $50 in the hand because I called with 9 10 and flopped a ten on a board that didn’t improve. I called down his KK and found that he never chopped if he had AA, KK, or AK. In retrospect, I could have gotten away from the hand, but the information he gave me ended up being worth more than the $50 I lost.

The table was so predictable that when it folded to me with a flush possibility on the board, I knew I could look down, put out a half-pot bet, and everyone would fold and joke that they knew what was going on. I smiled and said “you got me,” and raked in three pots I otherwise had no chance of winning.

Another predictable play I quickly found was that four players were playing any suited king or queen. Therefore, I called two bets to hit my nut flush and took a queen high flush player’s entire stack. I also won several hands with a better kicker.

Then the calling station sat down to my immediate right. He went through three bags of $50 chips calling when he was beat. I knew that I could safely bet into him even though I was out of position and he would predictably call off his chips.

One nice piece of karma manifest itself when Mr. I Only Chop With Poor Holdings called $2 under the gun with KQo allowing me to limp in for $1 in the small blind with Q5s. The flop brought two queens. I bet and he called. The turn was a lovely 5 giving me a full house. I checked, he pushed all-in and lost his stack. I lost $50 to him and he lost $100+ to me.

I ALWAYS chop. You can chop or not chop. I don’t care. However, if you mix it up based on your holdings you are PREDICTABLE!

Interestingly, several players got into the discussion of chopping later and three other players said they did the same thing, chop with poor holding and not chop with good holdings. Thank you for the information!

It was a good night and I turned my $100 buy-in to $400+ without being too creative and never being all-in. It was a learning session however and the main thing I took away from it was the value of mixing up my play and making sure I don’t play predictably.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What a trip!

Two weeks in Italy. The pictures speak for themselves!