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playing poker and teaching science: April 2005

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. I also try to give back a little by volunteering for a month or so each summer at a children's home in Belmopan, Belize, Central America.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Getting paid to do your laundry

I’m a teacher. If you have any doubt, take a look at my license plate: IRA TCHR :-) Specifically I teach 8th grade general science but I'm certified to teach all areas of science up through the 12th grade and I have a personal affinity for the physical sciences, including physics.

Naturally I like to experiment.

I’m in the middle of a bonus chasing experiment. It started from reading about the many bonuses available and the assertions by numerous bloggers that persons playing low limit poker who are not also chasing bonuses are at best feeble minded and at worst simply foolish.

Thus began the experiment.

It’s been a while since I deposited money into a poker site and I had a few dollars scattered at a number of locations, so when I took inventory I determined that I could easily lump together $200. I took that $200 and deposited it all into my Party Poker account with the BONUSAPR code they had graciously emailed me and found myself chasing a $40 bonus while I started my laundry Sunday morning.

It was an experiment, but an experiment involving real money so I was very conservative and chose to play two tables of the lowest level Party offers, $.50/$1. I didn’t put a lot of time or thought into table selection as these lowest levels are pretty much the same in my opinion.

I played for about four hours total, made $20 at the tables, and cleared a $40 bonus. That makes the total for the day $60 AND I now have clothes that smell of a mountain morning.

There were not even very many memorable hands, except when I defended a big blind 10,6o to a re-raising maniac and flopped 10 10 6 for the nut full house while he bet into me the entire way and called my re-raise at the end with his powerful Ace high. I think his kicker was an off-suit three.

I love Party Poker.

I simply played ABC, made the money and cashed out up approximately 2.5 big bets per hour (per table) for the actual poker games, but with the bonus added in that translates to 7.5 big bets per hour per table. Not a bad payday while you’re doing laundry.

Reed em.

Friday, April 22, 2005

In the money!

I just this second realized something: I made some nice money this month playing poker.

Profit:

Florida trip $192
Bonus chasing: $63
Home games: $60
Total $310

Okay, I know it’s not thousands of dollars, but for a limit player who considers himself a student of The Game and plays because it’s an enjoyable past time, a few hundred dollars is a pretty good month and I’ll have to look at my records at home, but I know it’s even a little more than this because of a few juicy games I’ve played in recently on UltimateBet.

My goal was to make enough playing to pay for my Vegas trip. It's looking good so far. All hail the poker Gods!

Don’t tell the IRS!

Side note: I deposited $120 at Intertops using Neteller to chase the bonus there, but when I tried to cash out, Neteller wasn’t one of the options. It has to go to my checking account first before I can put it back into Neteller. A minor inconvenience as long as the money gets to me safely.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bonusville USA

I feel a little like Bill W.

My name is Terry, and I’m a bonus whore.

Everyone say, “Hi, Terry!”

I’ve been reading about chasing bonuses and decided to give it a try on a limited basis and see what happens. I had about $200 or so in my various poker accounts and cashed out $60 (why $60? I don’t know) out of my UltimateBet account and deposited it in my Empire account with the re-load code to see if I could work off a 20 percent bonus.

What do you know…..it worked. I played very conservatively, two-tabling at the $.50/$1 hold em tables and made about $15 while I cleared the bonus. $27 profit in a few days.

Next I opened an account at Intertops and deposited that $90, plus another $30 from UltimateBet to try and clear a 20 percent bonus on $120 at that site. Less than a week later I have $156 in that account, $24 bonus and $12 profit from the games.

So in two weeks I made $63 free and clear. That’s a 31 percent increase in my current on line bankroll without too much effort. Yes there was the usual variance and I found myself stuck in a game from time to time but I played conservative ABC poker betting when I had the best of it and folding when I knew I was beat, and almost always ended a session even money or a little up.

On a side note, I like Party Poker and it’s affiliate sites. Party was the first site I ever downloaded after watching the World Poker Tour and it has a lot of sentimental value, even with it’s Atari-esk graphics. What can I say? I like it when the crowd cheers a win! :-)

So I’ve downloaded all the Party skins on various computers throughout my school so I can chase deposit and reload bonuses in the land where fish swim freely. For any of you squealers out there, I registered and then deleted the programs from the school computers so there is little evidence to support your accusations!

Feel free to say “hi” if you see me chasing a bonus. You can look for me under various combinations of the name “Reed.”

1. Party Poker: mrreed
2. Empire: mr_reed
3. Intertops: Reed_Em
4. PokerNow: Reed__Em
5. Multipoker: Reed_Um

Hey, I don’t care if people know who I am. They still have to beat me!

My name is Terry, and I'm a bonus whore.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Catch-up trip report (How do you know you’ve played well?)

I didn’t get a chance to report on the rest of my trip to Florida, playing poker at the Daytona dog track where the big bet is a mere $2.

Winning days total (approximately 2 ½ hours each day): $64, $19, $117, $52.
Losing day total: $60
Total 5-day winnings: $192 (96 big bets!)

This total does not include tips and drinks purchased, so the 5-day total was more than $200, more than three time last year’s total. I hope this speaks to my improvement as a poker player.

How do you know if you’ve played well?

I think I have a new standard to determine whether or not I’ve played well for a period of time: On two separate days of play, not only did I win a moderate amount of money in relationship to the blinds and bets, but my top pair didn’t get outkicked even one time!

Naturally there will be times when a player with top pair playing a poor second card will suck out a winning hand catching a pair for his weak kicker, but playing top hands with good kickers will mathematically dominate over time and will likely be paid back by the weak kicker players.

A recent article I read on the odds of sucking out had an interesting formula for calculating whether or not chasing is appropriate and it goes something like this:

“You should at least call when your effective outs times one more than the effective pot size is greater than the number of unseen cards.”

Obviously this is for limit poker, but it worked to my advantage because when big pot developed and I was drawing to the nut flush, I had the odds to call one or two more $2 bets to hit, and it paid off more than once because with 9 outs times 12 bets plus one (9*13=117) was always more than the number of unseen cards, so odds existed to chase at this low level.

I will say that I was lucky several times in the blinds with hands I would rarely play. With Q8o in the big blind I flopped QQ8 for the nut full house and after checking around was able to drag two callers all the way to the river.

The blogger’s tournament in Las Vegas sounds like it has completely come together and I’m really looking forward to it!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Paying for a margarita

What do you do if you feel like playing a little poker but have had two big margaritas and a couple of beers? The worst thing to do is sit down with real money, but when UltimateBet offers mico-limit games you can play for real money fairly safely.

That was the scenario when I sat down with my $2 to play Omaha with blinds of $.01/$.02. The twist is that this is pot limit, which is beginning to become my new addiction. You are playing a set limit and then all of a sudden the dollar amount leaps forward.

It’s very exciting!

I am dealt AAKx in the big blind and limp in because raising in this type of game doesn’t limit the field and aces rarely hold up by themselves. The flop brings AKK. I have the best possible hand. There is no way to have quads because I also have one of the kings. All good poker players know that when you have the mortal, end-all-to-save-all nuts, you check.

Check.

Check, check, check, bet the pot. Someone must have KK, so it’ll be he and I heads up, right? No way! Call, call, call, and I call. Actually, six players saw the turn and four saw the river and called when I re-raised the pot.

I won $8. That’s 400 big bets or $8000 if I had been playing $10/$20.

Penny anti bought one margarita. :-)


Reed Em.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Very close and then double quads!

Tuesday night poker tournament: $40 buy-in, top two places paid out of seven entrants.

How stupid do you feel when you make a good read on another player, but misread the board?

I am dealt QJ in middle position and raise 2x the big blind, getting only the big blind as a caller. The flop is J49 rainbow so I bet my top pair, good kicker and get called. The turn is a blank I bet and get called again. The river is a queen and I have been thinking there is a straight possibility so when I bet the river and get raised I think he must have hit a straight, but for some reason I was thinking there was already a 10 on the board. I said, “Do you have AK?” He sat blank faced. I made the crying call and he turned over the AK just like I thought, and then I mumbled about my bad luck as I turned my top two pair.

He said, “You win,” and I felt like an ass as I raked in the chips. I almost mucked the winner! Duh.

When we were down to four players I pushed all-in in the small blind with a suited K9 and was called by a 97o who was the short stack and was looking to double up as the blinds increased. The flop had a seven and I thought I was crippled but a rivered King placed me in the top three.

I really need to work on my short handed play. I folded at least one hand I should have played for a raise when I received A5o on the button. I think I was WAY too conservative because I had yet to cash in this game because of some bad beats and wanted to get over the hump and make the money.

It did work out though and I made the top two with an adequate supply of chips, but got outkicked TWICE, once with 82 and two deuces on the board. We both slow played our set of ducks and then his 10 played, taking me down to the felt and forcing me all-in in the big blind and I was out in second.

Overall however I was very satisfied with my play.

Then even more fun began!

We only had five players that could stay for the cash game and we decided to play no limit, $50 buy-in, dealers choice with $.50/$1 blinds. The only games we ended up playing were Omaha, Hold Em, and Pineapple. I caught some great cards and also had a good read on the other players so was able to lay down the losing hand twice.

Two fun hands:
I havd pocket 10’s heads up and the flop was 10 4 2 rainbow. Finally a set and NO flush possibility! I check, get bet into, and flat call. The turn is a Jack, check, bet, raise, call. The river is the case 10 and I go ahead and check because my opponent is already reacing for chips. He bets, and I double his bet to get the call. I think he may have folded to a larger or all-in bet but he called with AJs and I raked in a nice pot.

Four hands later playing Pineapple I receive JJQ and discard the Queen after a flop of AJ4. I shifted gears and bet out the set and got two callers. The turn makes quad Jacks and I was called on the turn but not the river and I had to show my second set of quads. A first for me during live play.

There was one gambler in the group and he announced that he's going all-in blind on the last hand of the evening for his last $12. This also happens to be my big blind. I decide as the cards are dealt that I will just fold my blind and take my 13 big bet profit and go home a winner in both of the evening’s games.

I look down and the Hilton sisters are blinking their baby blues at me.

Shit.

Call.

Heads up he turns over 45o but catches A3 on the flop to have more outs than I’d like for him to have so I have to sweat the turn and river as he doesn’t improve and I get to take home $25 from the no limit game to add to my second place tournament winnings.

TFR.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Negative value

The dog track in Dayton has a genius on the payroll. Whoever he (or she) is has devised more than one way to make A LOT of money in a room where the biggest bet possible is $2.

First, the tournaments: Twelve people at the table, $45 to play with $17 going to the house. That’s $204 for every game! They pay only the top three and so you can only make 4 times your money if you finish in first place.

Second, seven-card stud: Seven-card stud played seven handed, a fifty-cent anti with every hand and the bring-in pays a dollar and the house takes a rake of 10 percent. The average hand wins less than $20, so with the rake, dealer tip, anti, and occasional bring-in bet, you would have to catch some amazing cards just to win a small amount of money.

Third, Daytona Hold Em: Played 10 handed with a $2 dollar anti (house rake again 10 percent). Every pot is raised and re-raised until it’s capped so EVERYONE sees the flop and trash wins over good poker play. I saw huge pots won when a 52o caught runner, runner to make a 7 high straight, and I personally won more than $150 with back-to-back hands of 74s (made a full house) and 89o (two pair).

You might as well play the slot machines as play this game! There is no hand in poker that is a big favorite against 8 or 9 other random hands that stay in to the river.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Keep raising baby!

Florida trip report, day one:

Since I'm such a great dad I took my son and two of his buddies to Daytona for spring break and during the heat of the day while they are cooking their brains, I took off to play poker.

The big bet at the Daytona dog track poker room is $2 which makes the games pretty loose and so good play is a must, but you are often also given appropriate pot odds to chase the good draws with 8-9 players seeing almost every flop. Last year I won about $75 over four days of play and I was anxious to get a good start and try to exceed that mark this year.

I think I'll make it.

Within five minutes of sitting down at the table a VERY aggressive player sat down to my immediate left and started raising almost every pot, winning infrequently, except when all folded to his constant betting. To make things more interesting he had a loud mouth making at least three older players at the table start gunning to beat him.

When this fun was reaching a peak, he raised blind out of the small blind and got SIX callers. I look down to see KK on the button and think "lets see what happens" as I raise. He re-raised and ALL SIX callers stay in making the pot $64 already, 32 big bets!

The flop was K22, giving me the nuts unless someone was holding two ducks.

It was checked around to me which made it obvious nobody held 22 because betting the betting doesn't increase in limits so there is no need to slow play and I bet out hoping that somebody had a piece of it. Everyone folded except for one calling station with a 2 who called it down and paid to see the kings.

The rest of the day I played good cards, hit a few flops, missed more, and ended up $65.

Day two to come...

Friday, April 01, 2005

Two dollars at a time

I am off to the land of the two dollar bet!

Side note: The two best things about being a teacher are June and July. Closely following on the list of reasons why teaching is a great gig is the fact that I get 80 days off in a row WITH PAY during the summer and a ton of other holidays off throughout the year. There are only a few short years in my entire life when I did not have the ability to enjoy spring break and I’ve blocked those years from my memory.

Unless things have changed in the last year, the state of Florida has a bizarre law that limits the amount of a bet at a poker table to $2 on the mainland. Last year I took my son and a buddy of his to South Daytona Beach for spring break and we are off after school today for a return trip.

The Daytona dog racing track has a poker room that is neat, clean, well managed, and smoke free. When I walked in last year I was surprised to find that the highest limits they spread in Hold Em was $1/$2 and that there was even a $.25/$.50 table, actually three of them. The lowest limits were filled with geriatric gamblers who seemed to be having a great time.

I sat down with my “A” game four days in a row from 10 to 2, while the sun was at its hottest, and won about $75 from some of the weakest players I have ever played against. At one point I held a full house, aces over queens, and was being BET INTO by a man with a pair of fours. There is not a lot of money to be made, but I get to experience live play, which is always fun.

I’ll keep you posted from the Sunshine State.

TFR.