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playing poker and teaching science: August 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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Livin' on spongecake...

This day can't go fast enough!

Tonight I pick up my Bulgarian Beauty and head for one of the nation’s premier outdoor music venues to enjoy Jimmy Buffett live and in person! To make it even better, I purchased four tickets the day they went on sale and sold two of them to a guy I met playing poker in Evansville. I’m not freerolling the concert, but pretty darn close.

I don’t expect to get wasted away again, but I know it’ll be a great time. Katrina’s rain has come and gone and the weather forecast is: Times of clouds and sun this morning. Times of clouds and sun in the afternoon. Partly cloudy this evening. Partly cloudy overnight. High of 81.

All systems are go!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Playing poker and new relationships

I have a new girlfriend.

There are things I look for in a relationship that may lead to the possibility of perhaps maybe being long term. (Wow…..could that be more vague?) A woman has to have a good sense of humor, have reasonable good looks, be height/weight proportional, and most importantly, have above average intelligence. I’m reasonably sure I’m offering everything listed and naturally I look for them in return.

The current love interest has everything I could hope to find and to top it off she’s Bulgarian. That’s pretty exotic for a small-town-white-bread-just-off-the-farm Hoosier boy like me.

At 45 years of age and with two failed marriages and various other relationships running the gambit from mildly annoying to intensely dysfunctional under my belt, I tend to be a little pessimistic about long-term relationships in general. For an eternal optimist like myself, that’s a little hard to pull off for long. Ordinarily I wake up thinking something good is going to happen. I see the glass not only as half full, but also expecting someone to fill it to the rim!

There is a trend that can’t be denied however. I start a new relationship; it feels good, it looks good, and then starts to fall apart after about six weeks. This six-week threshold seems to be fairly standard over the last three years yet the warning signs usually begin to pop up earlier than six weeks. I’ve run into inexplicable anger, poor (bordering on abusive) parenting skills, and what best could be explained as consistently dropping IQ level.

*Sidebar: Perhaps food for thought for another post: Can a person FAKE intelligence on the short term?

I’m currently in week five of a new relationship and things look better than the have in the past three divorced years and MUCH better than most of the past two of married life time. I don’t seem to see any negative indicators and it makes me feel great.

I also think it’s screwed up my poker play!

All of a sudden I feel like my weak draws are going to hit and that Q10 from early position is a good hand to play…..after all, the world is glorious and happy. The stars are aligned, woirld peace has been achieved, everyone loves George Bush, and hunger has been wiped out! How could I NOT play a suited queen under the gun????

I’ve experienced a mixed bag of emotions in the past few weeks. In my “tight for money” play I was suddenly losing $50 to $80 at a time. After posting more than $1000 in profit during the last three months and hitting a streak of 12 consecutive winning days in a row, a sudden $300-$400 slide was a bit disconcerting. Can you play as well when you’re feeling really good about your life? I don’t think so! Not unless you have self discipline…….imagine that. A winning poker player needs to be disciplined.

Who woulda thunk it?

Discipline I have covered. While wrestling in high school I cut 15 pounds in three days. You need to eat. You don’t need to play K10 from early position. If I can stop doing one I can stop doing the other.

So I think I’ve corrected things. The relationship is still great but I’m back to the tight play that has been consistently profitable and have posted seven consecutive winning days.

Ah…....love is bliss……excuse me while I fold a suited queen.

"You don't have to win very many hands!"

Painful truth update:

2005 on line totals:
April 30, -- $179
May 30, -- $375
June 30 -- $610
July 30 -- $1197
August 30 -- $1227

I'd like to say that there hasn't been much change in my online play at Party Poker and that I'm playing good hands in good position and am still reeling in the fish.

I'd like to say that.

A $30 profit for a month of play really bites. Were there some big suck outs? A few. Were there fish playing hands they shouldn't play? Always. Did I lose focus of the fact that I don't have to win very many hands in a one-hour session? Most definately!

I had a mid-month slide that included three $80 loss sessions. In evaluating my play I found, among other mistakes, that I was playing suited aces in early position and getting outkicked and calling second pair all the way to the river.

In short, I had become one of the fish.

Stop, evaluate, tighten up......I don't have to win very many hands.

I feel like I'm back on track now posting wins in the last seven sessions. Okay, one was only $8 and I played an extra 45 minutes (see previous post on the damn hammer), but still a win! I was also fueled by a $78 win session where I only played 22 hands, saw 35% of the flops and had KK, KK, AK, AQs, 10 10, and 83s (in the blind) all stand as winners. Boo Yaa!

Excuse me while I go fold.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I hate all bloggers!

The hammer, the hammer the hammer!

All the stories about winning with the hammer. First hand of the tournament at my table at the blogger's gathering in Vegas was won with the Hammer (Poker Geek?). Behind me at the Excalibur the hammer turns quad sevens and sends a lady home in tears. Seven-two offsuit rules!

I play a lot of sites for fun. I play poker at Party Poker to make money. I play boring, ABC poker to make money. I fold, fold, fold.......AND I MAKE MONEY.

What happens when I'm dealt the hammer today? I friggin' raise!!!!! I hit a 7 on the flop and bet again, eventually losing to an A7 calling station and effectively wiping out a nice little profit. I have to play for another 45 boring friggin' minutes to make it up!!!!

To make it worse, I'm dealt the hammer SIX more times on the two tables I'm playing just so it could taunt me!!!

Damn you bloggers!!!!!

Whew.......I feel bettter now....


:-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kathy F***ing Leibert...

This may be the funniest description of a color I have ever read in my life. A dealer from the WSOP (http://wsop-dealer.kcpoker.net) REALLY hates Kathy Leibert. He goes on and on and on about her and his tirade included this description of her jogging suit:

More on Kathy. She wears the same outfit everytime I see her. First, let's picture the color. Imagine eating 2 bowls of 3 alarm chili, and washing it down with a 12 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. The next day, on the way to a forest, you stop off and grab a paper plate, and a little jar of metallic red paint at a model toy store...you know, those little 1 oz jars? Ok, so jog 1 mile, uphill, carrying a full backpack, and wearing fatigues. Take the paper plate and place it on the ground. Squat over it with your sweaty ass, and shit out the 2 bowls of 3 alarm chili that was washed down with that 12 pack of PBR. Empty out the 1 oz jar of model paint, grab a twig off of a tree, and mix it up. That is the color of this fucking 'sweatsuit' that KFL wears.

Too funny, but how does a person have such a capacity to HATE someone he has only dealt with periferally? I have lived for 45 years on fair planet, fathered and raised an 18 year-old son, have two ex-wives, more than my share of failed relationships, and yet can't think of even ONE single person that I actually hate.

Maybe I need to look into that.....

Monday, August 22, 2005

Fold, fold, fold….

The essence of making money in limit play is to fold. I tell myself this again and again as I’m playing. It’s become my mantra along with “I don’t have to win very many hands.” So what do I do time and time again? I enter a pot in early position with a marginal hand like J10 or Q10.

Why don’t I just fold?

This is a question I’ve been struggling with over the last 10-15 playing hours and I think part of the answer is that when I change a routine that I’ve devised, I begin to lose some of my focus and that allows the “beginner’s mind” to creep in.

A reading from the book of Terry’s Poker Notes, chapter one, verse one:

In the beginning Terry watched poker on television and, being adept at numbers and patterns, decided to learn more about the game Texas Hold Em. He bought books, read articles, and played for free. He amassed as much knowledge as was possible without actually risking any real money. In the beginning Terry learned that “blackjack” hands were good hands and he played those hands only, and they were good.

You see, the beginner’s mind didn’t take into consideration the importance of position. Position is important if you are playing to make money consistently with as little fluctuation as possible. Should you play J10? Sure! But is J10 played in early position facing a raise and a re-raise a good starting hand? Absolutely not! Will you make money occasionally? Yes, you will.

A huge problem however is that the beginner’s mind tends to remember the times J10 won a big pot and he forgets to note if they were suited and from what position they were played. Experience steers us to more profitable play.

I changed the routine that was working so well for me and this has resulted in some losses that, while not taking me backwards, have slowed my forward progress. I was at a point where I was making approximately $35 an hour and posting many more winning days than losing days, but after I set up a spreadsheet to keep track of my online play, I stopped taking meticulous notes and allowed my mind to slip a little. I played marginal hands from early position and then tilted a little and tried to get back to even playing suited kings and the like, inevitably flopping top pair and getting outkicked.

After my third $80 losing day I reevaluated my play and have since begun to bounce back posting my third winning day in a row and a solid 10 hours of successful play.

Here are some words of wisdom posted by everyone’s favorite uberposter Iggy that have helped me while I contemplated my losses:

1) Other players bad play will make me far more money than my fancy or brilliant plays.
2) The guy that leads with a bet on the turn, after not betting previously, often has a big hand.
3) Folding costs me nothing pre-flop. If it's a close decision, I can't go far wrong by folding.
4) Feeling ANY sense of immediacy in poker is a BAD thing. I'm talking cash games, here, obviously.

From my perspective, bad beats are the sign of a good game, damnit. I want players chasing. I want players calling two bets cold on the flop without proper odds. It's why I don't have to work for the Man anymore. Just accept it when they hit and move on. Don't freaking tilt, damnit.

I’m still averaging more than two big bets per table per hour of play, but the profits are not what they could be. The battle of the beginning mind continues.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 15, 2005

If you write it, they will read...

For those of you that don't know. I'm a teacher. I teach 8th grade science and I love my job. I'll be updating this blog more frequently now because school is about to start back up. Chat soon!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Painful truth update:

All right children, gather 'round. I'm going to tell you a bedtime story:

2005 on line totals:
April 30, -- $179
May 30, -- $375
June 30 -- $610
July 30 -- $1197

There hasn't been much change in my online play at Party. Good hands, good position, reel in the fish. I have had a couple of days where my concentration slips and I forget my mantra, "You don't have to win very many hands!"

Case in point I call with A 10 suited in clubs in early position and there is a raise and a reraise after me. I fold this hand, right? If an ace falls I'm beat. If a 10 falls I'm beat. It's 160 to one (or something like that I forget) that I flop a winner. CAP IT!!!!! What is it about suited clubs that looks so appealing? To me a suited ace in clubs is the siren's call that becons me into the capped pot and giggles on the beach as I crash into the rocks. I flop second pair and lose to aces.

That took a max win day (remember, I get out when up $45-$50) and made it a below average win day.

I've experimented twice on playing later in the day with great success. I went up $100 in about 20 minutes one day and up $35 in10 minutes another so I think afternoon play requires more investigation.