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playing poker and teaching science: Predictable Poker
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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, November 11, 2013

Predictable Poker


I started to write, “They weren’t very good poker players,” but I realized that statement would not have been necessarily accurate. The players at my table knew the etiquette of poker, knew the standard plays people make, knew how to bluff, and were for the most part playing solid holdings. I decided that they weren’t poor players; what they WERE was predictable.

For only the third time I found myself with no specific plans on a Friday night, so I went down to the local American Legion post that I mentioned here. There were two tables already going and a third opened shortly and I took the three seat with four others.

The session began oddly. I was the small blind and it folded around. I asked the big blind if he wanted to chop and he said he couldn’t. He was young and I assumed him to just be an aggressive player who would be raising a lot. What I found was that he was predictable. I lost $50 in the hand because I called with 9 10 and flopped a ten on a board that didn’t improve. I called down his KK and found that he never chopped if he had AA, KK, or AK. In retrospect, I could have gotten away from the hand, but the information he gave me ended up being worth more than the $50 I lost.

The table was so predictable that when it folded to me with a flush possibility on the board, I knew I could look down, put out a half-pot bet, and everyone would fold and joke that they knew what was going on. I smiled and said “you got me,” and raked in three pots I otherwise had no chance of winning.

Another predictable play I quickly found was that four players were playing any suited king or queen. Therefore, I called two bets to hit my nut flush and took a queen high flush player’s entire stack. I also won several hands with a better kicker.

Then the calling station sat down to my immediate right. He went through three bags of $50 chips calling when he was beat. I knew that I could safely bet into him even though I was out of position and he would predictably call off his chips.

One nice piece of karma manifest itself when Mr. I Only Chop With Poor Holdings called $2 under the gun with KQo allowing me to limp in for $1 in the small blind with Q5s. The flop brought two queens. I bet and he called. The turn was a lovely 5 giving me a full house. I checked, he pushed all-in and lost his stack. I lost $50 to him and he lost $100+ to me.

I ALWAYS chop. You can chop or not chop. I don’t care. However, if you mix it up based on your holdings you are PREDICTABLE!

Interestingly, several players got into the discussion of chopping later and three other players said they did the same thing, chop with poor holding and not chop with good holdings. Thank you for the information!

It was a good night and I turned my $100 buy-in to $400+ without being too creative and never being all-in. It was a learning session however and the main thing I took away from it was the value of mixing up my play and making sure I don’t play predictably.

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