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playing poker and teaching science: Forming a plan
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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, March 02, 2005

Forming a plan

The home game I started playing in on Tuesday evenings is taking a little thought to determine the best plan of attack for the tourney part of it. We start with about 12000 in TC and blinds at 100/200, increasing every 10 minutes. The structure is VERY fast for my taste and the entire thing was over in less than an hour.

While playing last night I thought I was playing a fairly solid game, but I think in retrospect that I need to ONLY play group I cards in the first two levels and push very hard with those. I had to lay down AQs and 99 and AJs when the flop brought either overcards or missed me entirely and I was facing a bet or raise in front of me.

After a couple beats I was down to just a few chips and pushed in about ¾ of my chips (basically saying I’m all-in no matter what) when it was folded to me on the button with Q9s and was called by the small blind. I went all-in when the flop came 9 high and was called with A10 and he caught a 10 on the turn so IGHN.

I know I can beat this game and finish in the money, but I need to catch at least two good hands when the third level hits.

Again we followed the tourney with $3/$6 limit hold em. I got into a little bit of a hole early on losing with AQ to A10 and small pocket pairs that didn’t improve, but I fought the urge to play more hands and even though I was down almost $50 at one point, ended the evening up $10 exactly.

Time and time again I saw the importance of playing good cards. I folded 62 in the small blind, even though it was only another $2 to call. The flop fell 62x and I had two pair and would have been locked into the hand until the end where I would have lost to a higher two pair.

Jack/Jack, my most hated hand, was about breakeven for me last night. I limped in and then folded to a KQx board and then raised and bet to a 1010x board and took down a small pot. I don’t think there is a way to win anything substantial with JJ unless you catch a set on the flop and suck out on AK, AQ, or a smaller set..

The advantage of playing with the same guys two weeks in a row is that I’ve developed a table image that carries over from week to week. They see me as a fairly tight player who will bet when he has the top hand and rarely slow plays and I’ve been able to use this to my advantage when heads up or one of three in a pot when I bet into a flop that brings rags while holding ace high or catching the bottom of the flop.

I encourage this image by showing top hands as winners early on to steal a few pots as the evening progresses. Some people never show their hands but I show selectively now and then if it will do one of two things:

1. Help my table image, or
2. Shows the chip leader of a tournament that I wasn’t bluffing into his big stack.

I think both of these cases work to my advantage to win pots later in the game. Thoughts?

Thanks for reading.

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