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playing poker and teaching science: February 2005

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?

Monday, February 28, 2005

Playing for fun….and money

I love to play poker.

The fact remains however that poker can be a little boring at times if you want to make money. The answer for me is the micro-limit tables. The maximum buy-in is only $2 on UltimateBet so how much can you lose? I can play a lot of hands and not risk my bankroll. I wish I had thought of that during my Benadryl losses.

While waiting for a SNG to start I jumped into the $.01/$.02 Pot Limit Omaha hi/lo to play for fun. But was it JUST for fun? I limped in with A235. The flop brought K45, two spades. The big blind bets the pot, and one other player calls ahead of me and I call with the nut low draw and enough dead money to give me odds to call.

The turn is an 8 for a board of K458 and I now have the nut low that cannot be counterfeited. UTG bets the pot and with a caller ahead of me I figure I will be quartering the pot. The river is a 2 of spades so I know I’ve lost the high even though I’ve made a wheel for the low. UTG bets the pot, caller calls, I call. The pot is now more that $7.50 at a $.01/$.02 table.

Scoop! I have A2345 for the low and NOBODY HAS A FLUSH for the high???? What were they calling with?

I’m up $5.50 in about 10 minutes at a micro-limit table. That's 250 big bets for an average of 1500 big bets per hour.....if I was palying $20/$40 I'd be up $60,000!!!

I love to play poker.

Thanks for reading.

Home game humor

What happens when a serious baseball player is asked to play whiffleball? Or a racecar driver is asked to drive go-carts? Or a golfer is asked to play miniature golf, the one with the windmill and clown? My guess is one of two things: either massive frustration sets in or he goes with the flow and has fun.

The result is the same things that happen when a “serious” poker player is asked to play a husband/wife home game.

Case in point: “I win! I have a full house! Look! 4-5-6-7-8…..full house!”

Oh my.

That was the way it went all evening. Raise late position five times the anti with AQ suited, SEVEN callers. Bet, bet, bet…..lose to 10 3 offsuit when a 10 falls on the river. A ten. So she chased all the way to the river with a pair of threes.

After that hand I decided to just relax and drink beer and play good poker, no matter what happened. It was an odd setup. All 8 people and paid $10, started with about a about $5000 in chips and there was one $10 blind for the dealer instead of small and big blinds (that’s easier to keep track of) and the blinds never raised! We just played until 12 o’clock and the top two stacks splitting the prize 70/20 with third place getting his money back.

It was possible to limp with any two cards but there were at least four or five callers seeing raises of $100 or more.

The woman that finished in second place (Mrs. Full House) must have made eight straights playing cards no real poker player would play.

I limped in with A9 of hearts and flopped the nut flush and check called to the river and bet more than $1000 with the nuts and WAS RAISED by bottom two pair to haul down a huge pot that allowed me to cruise to third and have my buy-in returned.

The only thing that irked me about the evening was that the first place finisher was the husband of Mrs. Full House and he would bet big with her heads up knowing that she would call against the nuts. That’s where he got all his money.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

When things go your way

Have you ever had one of those moments in life when everything comes together just perfectly when it seems like things are not going that well? I had one of those moments last night when everything came together and I was one with the cosmos.

First, I was already in a bad mood because I had to go grocery shopping. I don't mind shopping at Marsh because I know where everything is, but I found out that food is cheaper at Walmart so I ventured out to stock up on edibles.

Before I went to Walmart however I stopped by Kohls to pay my bill. I hate charge cards but I allowed Kohls to give me one because you get a discount when you use it. But I will never use it again! They won't let you pay your bill on line AND they won't accept a credit OR debit card as payment in the store. WHAT??!!?? I have to actually WRITE a check and send it somewhere in an envelope?? What is this, the 20th century??

But I digress.

So I was angry with the Kohls insanity but stopped by the shoe department to look at tennies. I am very particular about comfort when it comes to shoes because as a teacher I'm on my feet a lot and also have very wide, although attractive I'm sure, feet. Therefore, I don't buy shoes very often. When I find a comfortable pair I will wear them until they are simply unpresentable for public display, and have been known to wear them way past that point periodically.

The Nike shoes I was wearing were getting to the point that they really needed to be retired but alas, I had not found a suitable replacement.

Then I saw them.....there.....on the shelf....the EXACT same shoe I was wearing! I scanned the shelves and found MANY extra wide shoes. But did they have my size? I looked at every box......no, they didn't. *sigh*

So I looked at several other shoes and even tried on a few. No luck. None matched the comfort and the manly style of my current Nikes.

Then, just as I was about to leave the shoe department, I looked at my favorite shoe on the shelves longingly one last time. Wait.....what is that? Behind the shoes on the shelf, THERE ARE MORE SHOES!!! Whose evil idea was that? Hiding shoes from sight? What an twisted joke!

So I looked and YES! My size........but again I was disappointed because although these shoes were the right size and style, the color was just wrong. I wanted the simple white and these had a black toe. They wouldn't do.

I saw one last box with my size on the side way on the bottom in the back. I looked inside knowing they would not do. They were perfect! They were right size, the right color, AND extra wide.

Then I came home, played a one-table SNG, and placed first (poker content).

Life is good!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mixed results

A poster on an Indiana poker site has been trying to get a Tuesday evening home game started for several weeks and finally had the first game last night. There were eight players ranging in age from about 20 to 45 or so and we played a $40 buy-in NLHE tournament (paying the top two) which lasted about 1 ½ hours and then played $3/$6 limit HE for another 2 ½ hours.

The structure seemed to move pretty fast for my taste, starting with 6000 in chips and blinds at 100/200, with the blinds increasing every 10 minutes. I think I played pretty well although I didn’t finish in the money, busting out when I flopped a set of jacks against a set of aces.

I moved all-in under the gun plus one with JJ and got called by the short stack. This didn’t bother me because I had him more than covered, but the big blind also called. The short stack had KK and the big blind had AA! Three pocket pairs in an eight-handed game! The flop brought my lovely jack, but also an ace and I was out.

My best play of the night in the tournament came when I limped in with 55 and then called a minimum raise to go heads up. The flop came K62 with two diamonds. The BB bet the minimum and I called. The turn brought another diamond and I started counting my chips without even looking at the BB player. He checked and I moved all in. He “went into the tank” and then folded Big Slick face up saying, “Nice flush.”

You gotta love the power of the all-in!

Sidenote: The player that won the tournament didn’t stay to play $3/$6….that’s just rude! He wasn’t a very good player and caught some very lucky hands to win so I wanted a crack at some of my $40!

So I stared the $3/$6 game down $40. I bought in for $80 and it looked like it might be a wild game when seven players limped in the very first hand, but things settled down after that with usually four players in and only a maximum of three players seeing the turn after that.

I played top hands but also had a pretty good read on the other players and was able to take a few pots by betting ace high when it was obvious that the flop missed everyone.

I also had some good luck out of the big blind, just calling twice with small unsuited cards and flopping two pair and then being dealt QQ in an unraised pot, raising all but one caller away, and getting a small rainbow flop to take another big blind special.

I was also able to play on the image that I was going to win all my big blinds, limping in with 83 unsuited, betting when the 8 hit the flop AS THE BOTTOM PAIR, and having everyone fold saying, “He did it again.”

Good times!

I ended the evening up $71 in the $3/$6 game which is about 8 big bets per hour and after subtracting my loss in the tourney left with $31 in my pocket. I also had a lot of fun and found a new home game.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Keeping track

Since I allowed the free money I received from PartyPoker to get dwindled down with poor play at the Omaha 8/b ($1/$2) table (look for possible scoop hands only you moron!), I have been playing with the few ruppies I had left at the NLHE $25 (6-max.) tables trying to build the stack back to the original $50 gift.

Regular readers, of which I think there are currently three, will remember that I was down $43 to an all-time low of $7 in my PP account. I took $6 of that money to a one-table SNG and placed third, bringing the PP bankroll (and yes, I’m using the term loosely!) up to a staggering $11, which I have used exclusively at the $25 NLHE tables.

Since this online blog is mainly so I’ll have preserved for posterity a written record of my play, I’m going to digress here and mention the games and levels I’m currently playing to refer to later in my career as a fledgling poker player. They are listed in no particular order:

On Line Play
1. No Limit Texas Hold Em (6 people maximum) $25 max. buy-in
2. NLHE SNG (ranging from $1 step tourneys to $10 buy-in)
3. NLHE three table tourneys (occasionally)
4. Omaha 8/b (limit, $.25/$.50 to $1/$2)
5. Crazy Pineapple & CP 8/b ($.25/$.50)
Live Play
1. Limit Hold Em ($1/$2 to $4/$8)
2. NLHE ($50-$200 max. buy-in)
3. NLHE multi-table tourneys (6 to 20 players)

My bankroll is steadily increasing and I have opted to cash out from my on line account occasionally and at this point, all the money I have in my four on line accounts is profit. If I go on massive, brain numbing tilt and lose every cent I have in every account I maintain, I will not be out a single dime of real money. That’s a nice feeling.

So my PP account was on life support at $7. Like the emigrants of old I took my $7 stake, wrapped it neatly in a paisley handkerchief, tied it to a stick, and tossed it over my shoulder as I headed for the promised land, the $25 buy-in NLHE (6 max.) tables.

That’s the only game I’ve played on Party Poker for the last two weeks and unless a really juicy tourney comes up, I’ll continue to play no-limit at Party and see what I can do with the free money I’ve been given.

So far it has doubled and doubled again and then a little more and currently stands at $36, up $19, but still down $14.

Back to battle (an entirely different post).

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My best play to date

Big Slick……the name alone is daunting. It’s big AND it’s slick. I wonder if it had another name if it would be overplayed so badly. If it were named “Little Timmy” would it be so overplayed after the flop?

Here’s the situation: I am the chip leader by a narrow margin in a Royal Vegas step tourney, approximately 6000 TC out of the 15000 in play with three players left and the blind at 200/400. The top two only advance to the next level and third gets another shot at the current level. Number two in chip is on my immediate right. He has played a little erratically, but has also shown down some good hands.

I am dealt Big Slick. Not just Big Slick, buy Big Slick suited (or soooooooted if you prefer). Pretty nice cards three-handed so I raise on the button to 900, small blind folds and the big blind calls. The flop comes 4,4, 10 rainbow and the big blind BETS $1200!!!

What the hell??!!?? Doesn’t he know I have Big friggin’ Slick? I’m going all in and show him a thing or two!

I thought that, but what I actually did was think for a while and then fold. While it was unlikely he was holding a 4, it was entirely possible that he was holding a 10. I actually was putting him on A10, but he could have a set of 10’s, which would reduce me to the runner-runner suckout option while facing another bet on the turn and on the river.

A fold seemed prudent.

I folded and went on to place second, winning a seat in the next level and simply going all-in on the first hand after making second place because I was a 3-1 chip underdog and I had already accomplished my goal, living to play another day.

Big Slick is a tough lay down, but it’s a lay down that has to be considered.

Thanks for reading.

Just sitting and going.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I really love to play in one-table tournaments. The SNG (sit and go) format is a good one for me and I’ve become pretty good at them. It’s not a huge cash cow and I can probably make more money playing in a ring game, but I enjoy the competition and I can hop into a $1 SNG on UltimateBet and not have to worry about losing money if I happen to get called away.

Enter Royal Vegas Casino.

I’ve already mentioned, Royal Vegas offers step tourneys that lead up to a seat in the World Series Of Poker worth more than $10,000. They give you your first $10 free of charge so the potential is there to receive a trip to Vegas and an entry to the WSOP completely gratis.

Do you hear Bill Murray’s voice? Something about a Cinderella story?

Free money, free step tourneys, and a chance to advance to the WSOP all sound like fun to me.

Here are my results so far:
1. First SNG – 3rd place…..rats!
2. Second SNG – 3rd place…..rats!
3. Third SNG – 3rd place…..rats!
4. Fourth SNG – 2rd place…..Boo Yaa!

I’m on to the second level and I still have more than $7 free money in my account because of two other $1 SNG’s I placed in. As a matter of fact, I have not placed below 3rd in my last seven SNG’s on this site.

The adventure continues!

Thanks for reading.

PS: Don’t play Omaha 8 while you’re in the phone because EVERY hand looks playable until you think about it….down 8 big bets in 20 minutes!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Real money update -- January

January 2005

PokerStars -- $37 (+13)
EmpirePoker -- $78 (+28)
UltimateBet -- $186 (+61)

sub total on-line play -- +$102

Live play (one $50 tournament) -- (-$50)

Total -- +$52

PartyPoker -- $28 (free money)
RoyalVegas -- $7.80 (free money)

Consistant play and Crazy Pineapple

I’m finding that I have two types of play at the poker tables. Tight and selectively aggressive most of the time with solid play that results in a steady growth rate in my online bankroll, which I’m going to start making note in this blog just to keep myself honest.

And then there is the free money play, fast and loose.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe the free money play ($50 from PartyPoker and $10 from RoyalVegas) allows me to get all the maniac play out of my system to make way for solid play the rest of the time. Maybe I’m just being stupid throwing the free money away. Actually I haven’t thrown it away, but the free money accounts seem to have a lot of ups and downs while slowly moving downward.

It’s a quandary, but I’m having fun and maybe I’ll find that one loose play that will make money for me in the long run. Ever the optimist = )

I have been two-tabling it a little when I’ve had time to play and with solid play have had good results. My two tables yesterday were Crazy Pineapple 8b on Ultimate bet while also playing Omaha 8b on PokerStars.

At almost the same time I am dealt QQx in CP8b and AA2x in O8b. In the CP game I flopped a set that turned into a full house when the board paired 4’s and also put three clubs on board so every time I bet I was raised and re-raised and took down a pot of more than 10 big bets. The other player in the hand said, “Arge! I didn’t even thing of that, nice hand.” I like to play with polite players.

My Omaha hand turned into a wheel on the turn with a better and raiser in front of me. I have no idea what they were betting, but I cooped a very nice pot and left that session up about seven big bets.

Crazy Pineapple is always just that, crazy. I limped in one one hand in the small blind with A5x suited. The flop brought J87 rainbow (checked around), turn J (bet, call, call, and I make a loose call also). I’m not really happy about this call but I’m thinking maybe I’ll make a low, but I’m not even drawing to the nut low so it was not a very smart call. From my reading on Ohama, T.J. Cloutier states that when you are drawing to make sure you ONLY draw to the nuts. It stinks to hit your card and still lose! The river is a 2 and there is a bet and two callers in front of me. At this point there are more than eight big bets I the pot and if I do have the best hand for the low I am getting 4-1 for the money and since I called on the turn hoping to make a low I guess I should call once I’ve made it. So I call.

The hands are turned over and I’m quickly scanning to see who has a better low, when THE ENTIRE POT slides over to me! I have A2578 for the low and ACE HIGH for the high and I won the high and the low. What were the other people playing???!!!???

That’s why it’s CRAZY Pineapple!

Thanks for reading.

I'm off to the WSOP!

Okay....I'm not there yet but I found a site that offers an interesting way to get in. RoyalVegasPoker.com has step-tournaments and here's the information as I understand it: 6 levels, you start at level 1, and work your way up. However, the best part of this is that you don't HAVE to start at level 1, you can start wherever you want!!

Level 1: $1/$.10, 10 Players1st and 2nd advance to Level 2.
Level 2: $5/$.50, 10 Players1st and 2nd advance to Level 33rd gets a 2nd chance
Level 3: $22.50/$2.25, 10 Players1st and 2nd advance to Level 43rd gets a 2nd chance
Level 4: $100/$10, 10 Players1st and 2nd advance to Level 53rd gets a 2nd chance.
Level 5: $450/$45, 10 Players1st, 2nd and 3rd advance to Level 64th gets a 2nd chance at Level 5.Level 6: $1350/$135, 10 Players1st: $12,500 WSOP package2nd: $1,000

So for the amount of money I can find in my couch, I can make the World Series Of Poker! All I have to do is place in the top two in six tourneys in a row. Tough, but I've done it before.

Now the kicker.....when you sign up, THEY GIVE YOU $10 FREE MONEY!!!!

So all I need is a little luck and great poker play and I'm into the WSOP as a freeroll.

Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 04, 2005

A regular home game

Finally the networking has paid off and I've been able to locate a regular home game only 20 minutes away! Starting next Tuesday we will be playing a $40 NLHE tournament, followed by a $3/$6 limit cash game. I played with the organizer two weeks ago and he seems like a good guy and I think I'm looking forward to the social aspect of this home game as much as the oportunity to fine tune my live game play.

Stay tuned for results.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Life's little victories

This blog is mostly about poker, but there are other things in life more important and being a Dad is at the top of the list.

Over the weekend my wrestling team competed in the sectional tournament and it has been my son’s goal all year to advance to the regionals. In order to accomplish this feat, he would need to place in the top four and also face at least two or three wrestlers he had lost to earlier in the season. Those early loses brought him into the tournament seeded 6th, which means that he was expected to finish sixth out of the 11 teams.

His first match was in the pigtail round and a loss there meant your season was over. He faced a strong, unseeded wrestler and won by pin. Whew! At least he made it to the wrestleback round where a loss means you can still place as high as 3rd.

His second match was with a strong wrestler seeded third (who was the eventual winner) and TJ lost a close 3-2 decision.

Looking at the brackets I was a little sick. The loss meant TJ would go to the lower bracket and have to win two matches in order to qualify for regional. To make things worse, both the number one and number two seeds, supposedly the top two wrestlers in the weight class, had lost their first round matches and TJ would have to wrestle BOTH of them to advance and BOTH had beat him before. Oy Veh.

The next two matches came and went very quickly. TJ faced the number one seed and took him down in overtime to win. The number two seed gassed (wrestling talk for got tired) and TJ beat him 4-2 to advance to the regionals. His goal accomplished!

Then came the match for third or forth place. A win here would be nice because the fourth place finisher will advance to the regional and be immediately beaten by an undefeated, two-time state champion. TJ faced a strong wrestler who got an early lead but, like earlier in the day, gasses toward the end and superior conditioning from hard work (and weight cutting) paid off when TJ, who was trailing by four points with less than 30 seconds in the match, threw him to his back to win at the buzzer.

It was a very exciting day. There is no greater pleasure in life for a parent than watching a child succeed and be happy.

Thanks for reading.