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playing poker and teaching science: March 2010

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, March 24, 2010

Two shirts to the wind:

It’s March Madness, or what I refer to as “that other sport that takes place during wrestling season,” and the season has ended for the last 15 years with other wrestling coaches and myself traveling to the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament. This year’s installment was held in Omaha, Nebraska and the wrestling as always was top notch. Iowa is back to its usual domination and all is well in the wrestling world.

So how does poker figure into the equation?

The tournament is held in a different place each year, but the consensus is that the NCAA should keep it in St. Louis. We like it there. It’s a short, five-hour drive, the venue is excellent, and the amenities fall well within the requirements of the wrestling community, which means burgers and beer are abundant.

There’s also a casino or two.

It should come as no surprise that wrestlers used to one-on-one action and a high level of testosterone are also the first in line to throw down their money on games of chance.

Guilty as charged your honor.

I did an internet search before the trip and no hits were returned for “Omaha casino,” so I was pleasantly surprised when we exited toward our hotel and three casinos came in quick succession. It turns out they are on the Iowa side of the river.

Someone should post a link!

I actually had no intention of going to the casino, but as I sat after the morning session on Friday, I pondered the shirts I saw on sale for the tournament. I was torn between buying a long sleeve shirt for myself and a flashy t-shirt for my son. On one hand, his birthday is this week, and on the other hand I really wanted a shirt for myself. Two shirts however would cost about $60 and that was is a little pricey for shirts.

My solution seemed obvious: I’d catch the shuttle and win enough money to buy the shirts. The shuttle came quickly and within minutes I was at the Harrah’s riverboat, only to be told they had closed their poker room when the Horseshoe opened. Fortunately there was a shuttle from one casino to another!

Within a few additional minutes I was in a very nice room at the Horseshoe. They had two $1/$3 no limit hold em games going and, to my surprise, two tables of Omaha hi/lo. Since I wasn’t really intending to play however, I didn’t have a large enough buy-in for the $10/$20 Omaha game, which is too bad because it looked rather juicy!

I bought into the hold em game with one mindset: to win $60. I kept that in mind with every hand dealt. It was a very nice exercise in discipline and focus and I folded all but premium hands.

King Queen suited in first position: fold. Two fives after a raise: fold. Limp with a pair of sixes and miss the flop: fold. I played so tight that when I raised four times the big blind in the small blind with Big Slick, all five callers insta-folded and when I bet my suited ace on a flop with two of my suit, I took down the pot with four callers ace high.

My table image worked out well when this hand came up: Early position opens for $15 and I look down at two black jacks. I double his bet to $30 and it’s heads-up. The flop comes out 4,6,Ace and I immediately fire a $25 bet after he checks. He folds and I take down the pot, show the jacks, and tell him I’m glad he missed.

From the look on his face I KNOW he folded a weak ace…probably soooooted.

The value of image!

I won five pots over the 90 minutes I played, not counting the all-fold with AKs, and as an added bonus, I ended up winning every hand that I took to the river.

The JJ win put me at $59 after I tipped the dealer and made the executive decision to count tips as part of my winnings and cashed out.

I’m now the proud owner of an NCAA wrestling championship shirt and have another gift for my son. I’ve also reinforced the value of discipline, focus, and my ability to play a good game live.

To quote the infamous Hannibal Smith, “I love it when a plan comes together!”

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A good dual meet season

My wrestling team finished its dual meet season last night with a dramatic win over a tough team.

Our record for 2010 is 11-3.

That's down a little from last year's 16-1 run, but nevertheless a solid season!

Monday, March 01, 2010


My wrestling team returned to its winning ways last Saturday going undefeated during four dual meets to take home the New Castle dual meet invitational championship for the second consecutive year. It's good to be on top!