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playing poker and teaching science: April 2009

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, April 29, 2009

Mr. Reed and the E-Table

Much like almost every other state in the Union, Indiana is mired in hypocrisy. Originally, a casino was allowed, as long as it was floating on water. If you add a retention pond in a land-locked county, hire a full-time captain, and splash a casino into it, that’s cool because it's floating and Satan apparently cannot swim.

We have two race tracks for horses, which became a perfect place for land based casinos, but let’s make it illegal to have CARDS there. Therefore, when Satan wanders in, he will not be convinced there is sinning taking place because cards aren’t in the air.

Hoosiers are saved the evils of gambling because there are no cards present???

Oy vey.

Both Hoosier Park and Indiana Live! (yes, you have to include the exclamation point) have featured black jack and three-card poker, and now they also have multiple electronic poker games.

They have card games, but no real cards, and no real dealers.

Last night I thought I’d give them a try. I VERY MUCH prefer having some actual cards in front of me, but as a enjoyable pastime, and as a money-making venture, it seems like the e-table is in fact very similar to my live poker playing experiences. I am withholding final judgment until I try it a few more times, however I will post things I notice.

My first observation: It seems as though it’s very easy for the average casino visitor who is accustom to betting machines to jump into a game after securing a “Pro Poker” card, and that fact may be less threatening than walking into a brick and mortar poker room with chips, and dealers, and players sporting mullets and sunglasses. These “I’ll give it a try” players put $100 on a card and jump in a game, catch a beat of the garden or bad variety, and then drop out for the night.

I saw the afore mentioned happen several times. A young Negraneau wannabe jumps in a game, bluffs off his entire buy-in to a solid player, and then takes the walk of shame complaining that some donkey called down his great bluff with top pair top kicker.

My play of the night: Taking advantage of a solid image I spent three hours building, I called a pre-flop raise with a suited 8 10 from the small blind, pushed hard on a flop of Q-10-4 rainbow, and watched four players fold as I raked in a nice pot with second pair, weak kicker.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Half the Damn Chips

Do you ever get tired of learning?

As a professional educator dedicated to molding young minds, I know the value of a good education. Scientific, peer-reviewed studies demonstrate a direct correlation between the grades a student achieves in school and the students' future happiness.

Higher grades translate into the opportunity for a happier life. Statistics prove this unequivocally.

I relate this fact to my students with my “D” speech. I give it every year. Here’s the abbreviated version: If you are SATISFIED with receiving D’s then you are satisfied with below average. If you are satisfied with below average then that’s the kind of life you can expect to have. You’ll have a below average job with below average income, a below average house, a below average car, a below average spouse, and a couple of below average kids.

*note: I do try to make it clear that I am talking about being satisfied with below average and that there are students who work very hard and may still receive a D. Students who work hard can still achieve a happy life.

The founder of Faber College said it quite eloquently, “Knowledge is good.”

I learned yet another lesson at the poker table yesterday. In a one table Omaha 8/b sit-and-go, I was in the final five with an above average stack when I three-quartered the chip leader, and then put out the fifth place finisher.

I was sitting on a stack that represented HALF of the chips in play with the remaining HALF spread out among the other three players.

I had half the chips.


Half the damn chips.

I even said to myself, “Self. You have half the chips. You can coast into the money.”

Poker is about making money. Right??

I forgot that fact and made it about competing and winning. I got a couple good starting hands and went past the flop with them and invested too much money and then tried to push the short stack off a hand, and then, and then, and then…

Bubble Boy.

Note to self: don't be a donkey!

So today I'm at at NLHE sit-and-go and make it to the top four, again with half the chips. Half the damn chips. I told myself, "Self, you have half the damn chips. You can coast into the money."

What did I do you ask?

I had half the damn chips..... I coasted into the money, put out the third place finisher, and put another $75 into my account.

Knowledge is good.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Take a licking and keep on ticking…

I thought I’d been beaten like the proverbial red-headed stepchild at the poker tables during my annual spring break trip to South Daytona last week, but in retrospect I actually fared fairly well.

With one notable exception…

Omaha 8/b is a favorite game of mine, but I had a horrible run of cards and lost to two and three outers hand after hand. Then, trying to recoup my losses, played too many hands. I was running bad and adopted a guaranteed losing strategy. Smart move. I did learn from my mistake….. I hope...

At the hold em table I played well. I lost my entire stack when I flopped set over set and then lost to the case (gulp) deuce. Top full house 88822 and lost to quad deuces with all the money in on the flop.

What are you going to do?

I kept playing and was back to scratch two hours later with absolutely NO notable hands. Just solid, tight-aggressive play.