Mixed Games Provide a Welcome Challenge
Jas, who drives 45 minutes from Plymouth to Boston to play in our weekly poker game, invited us to come down to his place to play outdoors last Saturday afternoon. Since he offered to feed us hamburgers and keep our beer cold, we jumped at the opportunity to get out of the city for a day and play cards under the blue sky.After we had been playing cash games for a few hours, we decided to shift gears and play a tournament. At my urging, we abandoned the format we generally follow -- a medium stack No Limit Hold'em tournament -- and instead decided to play a deep stack mixed game tournament. I suggested we model the tournament after 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Event # 20, a H.O.R.S.E. tournament which begins at the Rio tomorrow. After some bartering, the group decided to eliminate the "E" and play "H.O.R.S."
H.O.R.S.E. consists of five different poker variations, including Hold'em (H), Omaha Hi/Lo (O), Razz (R), Seven-Card Stud (S), and Seven-Card Stud Eight or Better (E). All games are limit varieties, and after a set time period, the game moves from one variety to the next in a cycle, with the stakes increasing with each cycle through the games. For WSOP Event # 20, that time period will be 40 minutes. For our Saturday afternoon game, we played each game for only 10 minutes.
We each started with $30,000 in chips and played the WSOP structure, simply eliminating the Seven-Card Stud Eight or Better round.
I ended up finishing third out of seven people, winning back my buy-in. The tournament took more than four hours to complete, and honestly, it was the most fun I've had playing tournament poker for quite some time.
There was a wide ebb and flow to the chip lead, and players who were short stacked had time to make comebacks. The top two players chopped the pot after I busted out, and Steve, the chip leader when the game finished, made the most remarkable comeback after being down to $8,000 chips with betting levels at $1,500/$3,000.
While we play a wide variety of games during the cash game portion of our weekly game, we almost always end the night with a No Limit Hold'em tournament. Tournament poker requires you to shift and change your strategy in a way that a cash game does not. It was interesting and challenging to do that with four different games instead of just No Limit Hold'em. The only thing I would have done differenlty is to extend the time period for each game, as we often only had enough time for three or four hands of each game before switching to the next game.
Today, I arrived in Las Vegas to cover Event # 20. I can't wait to watch top pros playing battling in the largest buy-in event in World Series history. I can't wait to see who comes back from an early set back to make a run at the title. But more than anything, I'm glad to get a break from the endless barrage of No Limit Hold'em tournaments.