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playing poker and teaching science: April 2007

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 30, 2007

Greektown and an amazing exhibit


First and foremost, if you even get the opportunity to view the exhibit “Our Body, the universe within,” make sure you go! As you can imagine, as a science educator I’ve seen many science exhibits. The “Our Body” exhibit is the most amazing display I have even seen and it’s currently at the Detroit Science Center.

The exhibit contains actual human bodies that have gone through a polymerization process that plasticizes the cells on the molecular level. The 30+ displays have bodies with the skin remove in order to allow the viewing of muscles, nerves, organs, etc.

It’s a must see!

I also had the opportunity to play a little poker at the Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit. I found the poker room, a large area with a smoking and a non-smoking side, and put my name on the list to play $3-$6 hold em.

While waiting on a considerably long list, in a obviously poorly managed room, I found out that they had a short list for a $1-$2 no limit game with a buy-in between $50 and $100. The list was moving fast so I decided to play a little no limit for a change.

Good decision.

At least in the end it was a good decision. I determined that I would kiss off $200 to the night’s entertainment. In that way I wouldn’t be worried about the money and would only focus on my chips and playing good poker.

Two things were less than desirable in addition to the sloppy management of the room as a whole. First, in lieu of a rake they collected $6 for time every half hour with the dealer change! The second was that you could not reload your chips until you busted. I havn’t played enough no limit to know if that is a standard procedure, but after and hour of play -$12 and my two pair lost to an inside straight draw and my pocket queens went down in flames to A6 off suit, I was near enough to the felt that I pushed all-in with A9 suited to either double up (I would have tripled up) or bust out so I could re-load.

I busted out. REBUY!

Even though I was down a buy-in I felt good about the way I was playing. I questioned it a little when a second 9 hit on a board of A93 while I was holding A10. I called a half pot bet on the river and immediately had my first buy-in back again.

Then I was dealt 53 off suit on the button when the first man in yelled “family pot” as he tossed in his $2. Everyone was chatting and having fun and nine players limped in. The flop was 537, and it checked all the way around to me. I said “I’m going to bet because I have the best hand and tossed in $15. I had two callers. The turn was a pretty little five and I checked my full house and said, “I know someone has the 89 so NO SIX!”

The river was a blank and it checked around to me again. There were two spades on the board so I said, “You missed your flush draw.” I tossed in a value bet of $20 AND GOT RAISED by what I assume was a five because when I asked if he could beat a full house he mucked his cards.

Overall I went from my fist buy-in to the felt and then back up $380 for a tidy $180 profit, not counting tips and time, for a three hour session in a new room.

Coupled with the Science Center exhibit, it was a very good trip!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In the land of no pair no draw

It’s become a yearly ritual. Packing up for spring break just south of Daytona Beach in the lovely town of Daytona Beach Shores. It sports miles of few crowds, wide, white sand beaches that stretch on for miles, great food, and a short drive to the land of the $2 big bet.

The Daytona dog track has a large, smoke-free poker room where you can play seven card stud, Texas hold Em, and variation called Daytona Hold Em that includes a $2 anti. I played Daytona once last year and found it to be a gamblers wet dream. Basically you throw your bets in and nobody folds.

Ever.

The $2 Hold Em game is a lot of fun however. It often features a number of retirees spending the heat of the day playing some pretty good poker. Those people you have to watch out for, when they bet it’s time to get out of the pot because they have a real hand. The other players are pretty poor and will call down any bet and hope to get lucky.

I actually saw a woman call all the way to the end with a suited Jack, four. The flop brought Ace, King, three with two suited cards that were NOT her suit. She called a bet with no draw and no pair. She then caught runner-runner to win and went on to explain that that happened all the time and you couldn’t win if you folded.

THOSE are the people you love to have in the game. Yes, they suck out a win now and then, my aces went down to a suited 93 in middle position, but on the long term they donate to a quality player’s bankroll.

I started out a down about 35 big bets because my live-action game skills were a little rusty and the donkeys gave me second best a few times, but I stuck to my game and ended the week up about 40 big bets. The highlight was on day three where I sat down in the big blind and won my first four hands: AJ won top pair, A7 suited in the small blind turned the nut flush and I was bet into the entire hand, A10 flopped an ace and then turned into a 10-high straight on the river, and then JJ stood up to 9 high betting all the way.

Immediately I was up 34 big bets and held on to stay up 23 big bets for the day.

I added a little real gambling when we went to the dog track one night and had some nice pocket money for the week. I correctly picked the quinella (first two place winners) THREE times to pocket a cool $60.

Here’s my quinella system: mentally average the last five races and find out the three or four dogs with the fastest times and then choose the two that have shown improvement for the last three races. It seems to work pretty well and it’s just a $2 bet.

The $2 theme is a lot of fun :-)