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playing poker and teaching science: November 2004

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. In the past I have tried to give back a little by volunteering at a children's home in Belmopan, Belize, Central America. I also love Frosted Flakes. I have taken a year sabbatical from my teaching position in order to sail the Caribbean. Does that sound crazy to you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'm thinking....

One of the most entertaining things about teaching 8th grade science is the comments that kids make. For example, I've given the class an assignment to complete, and I look up a few minutes later to see a student turned Sideways in his seat, book closed, head in his hands. “Ted?” I asked. “What are you doing?” He looks up sleepily and replies, “I’m thinking.”

Interesting. It gives one pause. Maybe I need to think more when playing poker. Do you like the segue?

I’ve been involved in an on-going experiment with my poker playing. I will sit down at a $.50/$1 Omaha hi/lo game and will play it until I am up $6, and then take the money and enter a $5 Sit-and-go as a freeroll. It’s been a good system and I am continually in the black playing on the three sites that I currently frequent. My goal however has always been to be able to make some real (whatever that means) money playing poker and so that means I will have to eventually move up in levels.

I think my biggest obstacle remains the fact I don’t like to lose, especially when money is concerned. How do I overcome this obstacle?

I’m thinking….

Monday, November 01, 2004

Las Vegas trip report

This was my first trip to Vegas so I really didn't know what to expect. Wow, what a city. Everywhere you looked there was somthing amazing to see. But I came to play poker.

I arrived at about 8 o'clock on a Wednesday evening and by 9:30 was seated at a $4/$8 hold em table at the Bellagio. I'd read the 4/8 tables were free money and that seemed to be the case. By one o'clock I cashed out up more than $200 playing premium hansa and getting payed off by the second highest pair. I also got luck a time or two with big blind specials such as 5-3 off suit flopping 5-3-Ace and busting big slick (A/K). I felt bad about it, but that's poker.

Thursday morning I walked to the Excalibur and played 2/4 hold em with a half kill for about two hours after registering for the 10 o'clock $30 freeze out. I wanted to play in a tournament and I had no idea how this payed out. I thought a freeze out meant that you played to one player at each table (in this case three with 30 players) and then the top three played for the prize money. I found out when we made it down to the top five however that it payed top five.

We started with $300 in chips and the blinds at 5/10 going uo every 15 minutes. The structure was limit for the first hour and then no limit after that. I played top hands only and won a few pots in the first hour winning the last hand before we went to no limit. I raised to double the big blind with the jack and queen of clubs. The flop came with a king and a 10 and I caught the ace on the turn for the nut flush and two callers, both holding two pair. We moved to two tables as soon as we went to no limit and players dropped fairly quickly and were down to one table before the third hour started.

Then I was dealt jack/jack.

I hate jack/jack.

I raised to three times the big blind and was reraised by a new player to the table. Without thinking, to show strength that I didn't really have, I pushed all in. I was pretty crushed when I got called, but then he turned over 22! I didn't know that he had been playing like that the entire game and getting lucky winning races, but the best hand won this time and I doubled up.

After that I continued to play good cards and busted out the 6th place short stack calling his all-in ace/six with ace/nine suited and then found out I was in the money. My goal then became third place to win $100 so I played very conservatively until I was in the top three. The blinds were getting steep and I made my best move of the tournament pushing all in from the button with 8/6 suited when we hit $400/$800 blinds. Raking in that $1200 when it folded to me allowed me to be even with the other two players and then I suggested we slplit the top three places evenly.

Everyone agreed and we each won $195.

So had been in Las Vegas less than 24 hours and I was up more than $400.

I continued to play top hands but had at least three losing sessions, two of which were simply at too low a level to encourage good play, although I did have a losing session at $4/$8, but simply got good cards that didn't improve and lost KKK to AAA for a big pot.

Then I took a shot at no limit hold em.

I was fortunate to get into a no limit game at Ballys just as they opened the table. The blinds were $1/$2 and the buy in was between $100 and $200 so since we all bought in at the same time, there was no big stack to push people around. The players were an interesting mix with an old cowboy, complete with bandana and hat, a maniac with a diamond earing, and an older gentleman drinking rum and coke. My end of the table had fun talking and making fun of the cowboy, who would "cowboy up" and push all-in with any pair, and the earing guy who thought he was Gus Hanson.

I again tried to play my best poker and won a few small pots with top pairs and stealing bets with a big bet with a big pair, and then I played one of my favorite hands on the button, ace six suited (clubs). The flop brought two clubs and I was in for a small raise when a club fell on the river giving me the nut flush and no pair on the board. Earring guy bet $40 to his top pair and while I was thinking about how much I should raise him to get the most money I could out of this pot, rum & coke guy raised another $100 making it $140 to me, which put me all-in. I called, earring guy folded and rum & coke turned over a king high flush and was drawing dead while I took down a $400 pot.

I was so excited I forgot to tip the dealer, but I remembered two hands later and made it up to him.

I splashed around in a few more pots and left after 4 hours of play up more than $240.

All in all I left Vegas with about $400 more than I went with after three big winning sessions and three small/medium sessions.

I also saw Barry Greenstein and Ted Forest playing hold em with $4000/$8000 blinds! They had multiple racks of $1000 chips sitting in front of them. Wow!

I also saw the musical "Momma Mia" and I highly recommend it.

Overall, it was an amazing trip. I'll be back....