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playing poker and teaching science: February 2009

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.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Defining Moments

The goal in my pub poker race was to qualify for the point-leader tournament. Along the way to achieving said goal I notched up a couple of wins, a few seconds, chopped up the bounty a time or two, and pocketed more than enough to pay for any beverages consumed. I also landed in the money during the tournament.

I consider those pretty good results in any game, excellent results in a free game.

It’s become a fun Tuesday night endeavor and I was happy to play along, not expecting such pleasing results. Lo and behold, I won again last Tuesday.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s entry: During the game I had a single defining moment. I was one of three of three players looking at an eight high flop. When it checked around to me, I peeked down at my J10 and my short stack of chips, and pushed all-in.

In all reality I was hoping to win right there, but BOTH players called. I stood up and put my jacket on as they checked it down. Ten on the turn. Queen on the river.

I flipped over my cards, picked up my card cover, and watched them both muck their cards. A pair of 10’s was the winner and I tripled up, won the next two pots, and went on to win the tournament, pocketing a cool $100.

My defining moment for the tournament was winning that pot. It was a seemingly insignificant incident that lasted mere seconds, but the entire chain of events following were predicated on that single occurrence, without which the timeline of events following would be drastically altered.

I’m sure theoretical physicists would argue that EVERY hand, indeed every single event no matter how insignificant that occurred during a poker tournament could be classified this way because their influence on the space-time continuum are ever present and undeniable. Pushing one’s chair out and altering a waitress’s course may cause her to spill a drink which results in a misdeal that would have doubled up the eventual winner, who busted out on the re-dealt hand….. But let’s not get carried away, shall we?

A truly defining moment in my life was in high school: I was a chubby freshman who had just finished turning in his football gear. When I walked into the cafeteria, I stopped for a group of runners wearing sweats and stocking caps. A senior named John Price stopped, punched me playfully in my not unsubstantial stomach, and said, “Reed. You’re pretty tough. Why don’t you wrestle?”

To this day I have no idea why John Price stopped to talk to a lowly freshman or how he even knew my name.

The results however are undeniable: Throughout high school I grew taller while I lost 20 pounds and became captain of the wrestling team. Wrestling changed my level of self-esteem and made me a more confident boy and that confidence allows me to pursue some of the unorthodox things that I do to this day (such as volunteering in Central America every summer) to give back a little to this planet. I eventually decided to pursue a teaching career largely due to a desire to become involved once more in wrestling. I still coach today and have yet to return to the rotund body I sported as a youth. My son wrestled because I did and it’s shaped who he is as a person, and as a young man.

It was a defining moment that lasted MAYBE thirty seconds, but completely altered the path of my life.

Maybe you have a moment like that. If so, I’d live to hear about it…

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Snowy week

Snow week! Two days canceled, two two-hour delays, and 11 inches of snow!

Oh yea.... I built a snow cave :-)

Life Outside The Pub

Some things I’m really happy about: First, after participating in a conference call with the advisory board on which I am honored to serve, I found the children’s home I volunteer at in Belize has raised enough money to purchase the land for a new home and they have already contracted three men to clear the land…. With machetes, naturally… clearing five acres by hand.

Yikes.

They expect to have volunteer quarters for workers finished by this summer. That sounds a tad optimistic, but I hope it works out. One way or another, when I head down this summer I’ll be able to visit to new spread!

Second, I’ve make reservations at the Stratosphere for the first week of the World Series of Poker. Where I stay isn’t a huge deal to me as long as I’m near the strip and I figure the more I save on a room I only use for sleep, the more I’ll have to play with, so that $33 promotional rate sounded too good to pass up.

So, some plans for the summer are starting to take shape, but there are a couple grant applications I have pending so that’s as far ahead as I’m planning right now.
All that and spring break in South Daytona. That’s a given.

My pub poker run qualified me for the invitation only tournament for the point leaders. I easily make the cut and sat down with 65 other qualifiers last Sunday to take my shoot at pub poker immortality.

I built a nice stack, but with accelerating blinds and two big hits to my stack by inferior starting hands, I was beginning to think that it just wasn’t my day. I had exactly 1600 when blinds hit 400/800. I was sitting on two times the big blind, and I was in the big blind. Not a good spot. Suddenly play stopped. I had made the final table.

That felt good about that accomplishment at least.

We drew for deal and I was about have way across the final nine so I had a few hands to look at before I had to shove. Three hands later I was first to act, hoping for any ace when I looked down at just that, with an ace kicker.

I limped.

Everyone folded to the small blind who pushed for his last few chips. The big blind called, bet when a king hit the flop, and I tripled up.

To make a long story that is only interesting to me short, I made the money, placing fourth to a three-outer.

To wrap up the all-free pub poker season where my goal was to simply qualify for the ending tournament, I accomplished my goal, made the money during the tournament, AND pocketed a few hundred dollars along the way.

Life is good.