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playing poker and teaching science: On Line Strategy
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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?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

On Line Strategy

Chapter One: German Dial-Up Guy

As an avid reader and poker player interested in NOT donking off all his on line bank roll, if I come across an article about strategy, I read it, digest it, and experiment to see how it melds with the poker knowledge I’ve acquired to date.

One area I have seen go uncovered is the best strategy against players in underdeveloped parts of the world playing on line with questionable internet connections.

The United States is a wonderful place: a fact, which is woefully under appreciated by the masses who have never ventured beyond its borders. I can accurately state that the kids I have in class have NO IDEA what it’s like to be somewhere that has, no electricity, no air conditioning, a questionable water supply, and (gasp!) no television.

Having volunteered for several years each summer in Belize and ventured off the beaten path throughout Central America, Mexico, China, and Japan, I feel like I have a pretty good idea on how people live throughout the world. Life in the countries I’ve visited, with the exception of Japan, is so far below the standards we have set for ourselves in the United States that it’s beyond the grasp of the average American to conceptualize.

If an American citizen had to walk to the corner of his neighborhood to pump the water he needed for the day, there would be outrage. Yet, there are still many parts of the world where that is a part of daily life.

As civilization encroaches on parts of the third world, the popularity of poker in those countries will likely follow. Let’s face it; it’s a fun game! Even if you only get four channels on your television, there will eventually be a poker tournament televised and the winner will rake in a large multiple of the average person’s yearly income.

Hell, I’ve won more in one pot than a great deal of people in the world make in a year.

The poker boom will continue to ripple across the globe like the waves from an overweight America kid cannon-balling into a neighborhood pool. As that happens, you’ll find the situation I was in today: Playing against the guy with a dubious internet connection.

I’ve been building my bankroll by gathering $26 tokens and turning them into $75 tokens, which in turn can be played for cash, and lately I’ve been sitting in the Full Tilt, 4-player, heads up, No Limit Hold Em games.

I buy in for $6, and play two heads-up games. The winner takes all, which in this case is a $26 token. With a 60+% success rate this month, my stack of tokens has shown a pleasing increase.

Twice lately I’ve found myself in a situation where my opponent, one from Hungary and the latest from Germany, has had a severe problem staying connected. In both cases, I never had the feeling that I was playing against a nit, donkey, or fish. Both players played a solid game and made impressive moves, only to get disconnected for the next five or six hands.

I’ve adopted a very conservative approach in these games that has worked to my advantage. Playing tight, solid, ABC poker while waiting for Bad Connection Guy to get low stacked and panicky and push his stack all-in with less than optimal holdings takes advantage of his situation. This fact is even more evident as the blinds increase. When he disconnects and is forced to fold a few blinds in a row without playing, his stack shrinks very quickly.

It’s a strategy that I’m still working to develop well and that still needs some refinement, but it’s a wonderful exercise in patience. Waiting for my opponent to make a mistake while optimizing the “raise and rake” opportunities when he disconnects has so far been quite profitable.

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