Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kim Carpenter's Judo Poker

No, this is not a new form of Texas Hold Em. This was a game created to help support Kim Carpenter as she follows her dream of becoming an Olympic judo athlete. In particular, the rake from the game will help her pay her way to Holland to qualify for the Olympics.

Look, don't expect much sporting detail here. As a sports writer I would be better with a coloring book and a Crayola burnt sienna or perhaps a periwinkle. But her friend John Blowers wanted to help this local girl, so I figured it would be a good way to say thanks for his game last week. The fact that Kim is both sweet and cute and will listen to the details of bluegill fishing, or that I could use what I don't know about judo as excuse to play more poker this week, had very little to do with my decision.
(right... and if you believe that, let me explain the mathematical advantages of a 7-5 offsuit)

Kim has some photos but is having trouble posting them. If she manages, I'll add them to this post. So check back. In the meantime if any of you missed her game and still want to support her Olympic dreams, I can get money contributions to her. Send it to me and I'll pass it on. Or send it to John and he'll pass it on.

Okay, so I went out to the Jason Morris Judo Studio to try the tournament fully expecting that I'd drop a hundred and come home. In the end I got lucky and finished second and then joined a cash game and got lucky again. So my win was over a hundred dollars.

Before the game Ed and I talked fish, especially the pickerel in Galway Lake.

Kim's game was poorly attended so we started with just one table of nine players. This was a bit disappointing, but we took the 20% rake for Kim and upped it to 50% so that gave her the profit of a larger game. Few people could pull me into a 50% raked game, but I guess Kim can.

Also, they agreed on rebuys. Normally I don't like rebuys, but they agreed to allow folks to come in again for $50 and this would boost Kim's profits, so I thought that it would be fine. As it turned out, I never had to rebuy, and so I made a bit more because of that decision.

Along with the poker, Kim managed to collect some fine Italian sandwich snacks and here the low attendance helped. The few of us who were there ate very well indeed. I ate too well, but what else is new?

I was there early and helped John and Fast Eddie Galway set up the chips for the game. In the judo center it is expected that we remove our shoes, and so we did. Then John had us walk in our socks through the parking lot to an outside storage room where chips had been locked.

I was a bit puzzled by this, but John was able to explain mathematically why it was a reasonable activity. I filed this away with why 2-9 off suit is mathematically superior to A-K and why 5-7 off suit wins almost every time. I am honored to keep learning poker math, and now judo customs, from John Blowers and expect if I keep accurate notes to improve my game in both areas.

Fellows arrived. I may be able to remember all of them, but perhaps not. So someone reading this report may like to add in the names of the players I missed.
All guys this time.
But Kim was there to host and smile be nice to us while she raked in half the money we lost. She does not play much poker, but she is getting the idea of how to set up a game.

The players were all fellows who play poker often and they were good competition. Blowers, Fast Eddie Galway, bracelet winner Gary Styczynski, Jason Morris, and I played Chad, Dave, Bill, Hector and one other fellows who all play against one another regularly in an Albany league that has a tournament once a month. They were going to be tough to beat because they knew how each one played.

John played his usual mental banter game of betting rag favorites, often in the dark, and trying to chat us into not watching carefully and then hoping to grab the winning edge n the confusion.
His subconscious added in another trick called, " I'll put in this $25 red chip and take these two $100 green chips as change," but we noticed and made him do the math again.

Nice try Blowers, but if you do that again, we're having Kim take you down to the mat room.

I don't remember too many hands, but I remember my pocket fours, my first big win against Ed. I doubled the blind just on a whim and then the third four flopped. Having bet preflop it was perhaps even harder to put me on the small pocket pair and Ed called my all in bet after the turn produced both straight and flush draws. Since it was early in the action, we were about even chipped and it put me up as eary chip leader.
I know I had pocket kings that went to trips on the flop against Dave, slow played them way too long and let Dave catch an inside straight on the river. That reduced significantly my early lead.
Unlike cash game thinking, tournament strategy suggests we plot to assemble a huge amount of chips. We can't cash out and walk away and say, "Well, I won twelve dollars and drank $50 worth of free Myers Rum" like I can at the El Cortez.
So My decision not to bet on the turn and disguise my strength, hoping that the river would give me the nut full house, and Dave would mistake perhaps his river catch for a good hand, was good thinking, until the river offered both a straight and a flush possibility.
Then I should have called Dave's small bet of $400 rather than raise and get greedy, misread his value bet into my weakness as bluff or two pair, and basically give him a huge chip lead.
That was my worst play of the night.

Afterwards I beat Dave when my K-2 of spades flopped trip kings, and he called my all-in bet with jacks. That gave me enough to stay alive while others pushed each other out. In the final stages of the game, I was small chip guy and Gary was pushing hard to steal blinds with all-in bets while the rest of us moaned and groaned with rag cards that we just did not want to trust even, against what was a possible bluff.
And of course, just about the time someone did call him,Gary started to catch and show some good cards and throughly confuse us.
Once Gary pushed me out off my son Peter's favorite hand (6-9 suited) which is also the hand Greg played in order to be eliminated just short of the money at that big Turning Stone tournament. Gary showed his 6-9 off suit and took in the blinds.

Somewhere in the middle of all this John lost a hand when he held overcards against Bill's pocket eights which went to trips on the turn. To rub it in Bill bulled the case eight on the river for the only set of quads that night.

Dave was conserving his top chip status and waiting for the table to eliminate enough guys to protect him by keeping him in the money. Tournaments have this weird phase when the next guy eliminated gets nothing, and everyone else is guarranteed at least the return of the buy-in.
It was a struggle as I got just rags during that phase, but eventually others went out and my small chip stack was third highest, so I'd not lose money that night.
It is such a strange arrangement for me. I am so much a grinder at limit poker where if I can't win, my goal is to lose less that session. In tournament play losing less does not matter. You can't cash out and move on to some other game where you aren't out chipped. It is all, or nothing. I was lucky.

My best bluff of the night was to take John's favorite 7-5 off suit and when it developed into zip, bet it hard on the river and bluff out Bill, who otherwise would have had me beat. It was fun to then turn over John's hand and announce the bluff.
But my thinking was not so much that Blowers must know the math of this combination, but that my chip stack was just too small, I could not win the pot without betting, and it was time to get a few more chips or go home.

Some luck came again later. Being short chipped as the blinds raced higher, I had to do something so I went in on an ace-4 of hearts and was called by Chad's ace-nine. A four came on the flop and another on the turn. What great luck that was! It put me in second place.
Now I was going to win money beyond the buy-in.

Chad was disappointed but I'd like to mention to my regular poker buddies that no cards were thrown and no "unbelievable" was shouted and there was no grumbling. Whatever disappointment chad felt, he put into a handshake and a "good hand" and moved over to the cash game, while Dave and I played and played and played some hard head to head poker.
Hector was kind enough to shuffle and deal and make sure that we knew who was what blind. I was tired by then. This is my other problem with tournaments. I get tired just when I am called upon for my best play.
In a cash game I can quit; in this game I can't even go to the bathroom.
I had won some chips to play with, some of them by going all in with pocket 3's and having those hold up against A-X. So I went all in with pocket 6's and Dave called me with A-J and caught a J on the turn.
He was happy.
His wife had tried to talk him out of playing tonight so the win would look good when he came home.

Jason Morris was gracious to allow us to use his facility, and generous to join us to play as well. Jason playing poker is like me playing judo. He was so new to the game as not to know the bets, so he needed to get very lucky.
It was good John was there, however, to tutor him with the power of 7-5 off suit. No 2-9 came. Jason was a good sport and was very funny too.

"Aren't any of you guys married?" he asked when he heard how often and how much we all play poker.
"All of us are married," he heard. "But we are not yet characters in a Blowers novel. We don't play that much poker."

It had to be frustrating for Jason, so when he was pushed out of the tournament, he did not know he was supposed to lie and say, "Good hand."
His expression was another classic poker axiom:

"I hate this fukcing game!"

We were glad, however, that as he finished the poker, he did not keep up the competition with a little judo with his new poker pals. His photos announcing his wins are all over the walls of his studio. . So this was celebrity poker in more ways than one.

And Jason quickly learned some nuances of the game. At the cash game he perfectly acted out the John Blowers patented technique of winning poker. it is one of Pokermaster Greg's plays as well.
Jason put his hands over his eyes, mimed putting in all his chips, took away his hands, and shouted gleefully, " Look, look, I win again!"

And then Jason finished explaining this classic Blowers move with yet another:
"That's why I hate this fukcing game!"

So it was good humor all around.

Kim played a bit at the cash game. Not enough to lose back her profit for the trip, especially since we helped keep her stake high enough to stay alive.
This game was like the old Stephentown games I played for quarters with the old guys.
The dealer called any game and put in a dollar ante which would be part of the dealer's first bet. No blinds. I was very tired and I don't much like playing all these odd games, so I knew I would not stay too long, and thought I'd leave losing my $20 buy in in a "low card in the hole is wild and roll your own" stud game, but the final card gave me 5 jacks and I won with that luck a huge pot.

So I played a while and then I left up a hundred or so, depending on how you count giving Kim chips, and full 0f fancy Italian sandwiches and the delightful smiles of this lovely judo champ. I hope she accomplishes her dream. I am honored to be able to help her along in this small way, especially since I helped her at my profit.

I guess we could say, "As you reap so shall you sow," but perhaps it is more like, "When the patron of the arts is a lying theif, the artist can skim from a smiling face."

"Thanks for the invite, John. What can I say? You are instant party, man!"

It is going to be fun watching this movie of yours take off.

And Annie Duke and her negative, insulting TV attitude can just suck my hole cards.
Or perhaps she'd like to bring that arrogant attitude down to the Jason Morris studio and test her skill against a woman of gentle class in another sort of game.
I think we should arrange that.

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