Shocking Surprise at 2012 WSOP -- Randy Ohel Wins $2,500 buy-in Deuce-to-Seven Triple-Draw Lowball (Limit) Championship
 
 
Most Exciting Heads-Up Match of Year Includes 14 Chip-Lead Changes and Three Stunning Comebacks by Ohel
 
 
 THE LOWDOWN ON LOWBALL
 
Tired of losing?
 
Always complaining to your friends about getting lousy cards?
 
Angry at getting dealt “junk” at the worst time, when everyone else seems to be hitting their sets, completing straights, and making flushes?
 
Have we got a poker game for you!
 
Introducing -- “Lowball 101.”
 
The fundamental tutorial of Lowball goes something like this.  You are playing Five-Card Draw.  That’s right, the old ancient artifact of dying dinosaurs that most of us over the age of age 50 remember as “the poker game,” long before No-Limit Hold’em invaded the global poker scene like an army of ants scurrying through a jungle.
 
In Lowball, the goal is not to make the best hand.  In fact, it’s to make the worst hand.
 
If you consider yourself unlucky – pull up a chair.  The rest of the world’s “losers” are waiting for you!
 
Truth is, this game is played almost nowhere.  Glad you took the time to learn how to play?  Next up, you may want to consider buying an 8-track tape player and taking lessons in Latin.
 
Walk into any poker room, anywhere in the world at this very instant, and you might find one or perhaps two games somewhere -- and that's if you are very lucky.  Err, make the very unlucky.  And if you do manage to find that most elusive of all poker games, that table will probably have three of four lost souls who think The Platters were too racy.  Bad news is, if you do sit down, those carnivores are likely to devour you like a minnow trapped inside a shark tank.
 
So, your best shot is this.  Come and play it at the World Series of Poker!  It’s been in the schedule every year since 1973, spread in some fashion, which means poker’s salty crustaceans have pretty much been playing this game since the stone age. 
 
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THE NEW CHAMPION -- RANDY OHEL

So, by now you've probably figured out that this Lowball game is mostly played by old men, with more poker years under their belts than broken marriages.
 
A younger person doesn't stand a chance in this game.  A first-time player would be drawing stone-cold dead.  Only a fool would think of entering this tournament, unless he had about decades of poker experience and nicotine-laced skin bronzed in the backrooms of Gardena.
 
Oh wait.  Randy Ohel just won this tournament.  Uhhh.  Uhhh.  Never mind.
 
Let's start this all over again -- shall we?
 
Randy Ohel, a 26-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, won his first WSOP gold bracelet tonight at the Rio in Las Vegas.  He won the $2,500 buy-in Deuce-to-Seven Triple-Draw Lowball (Limit) title, collecting a $145,247 in prize money.
 
Ohel topped a strong field totaling 228 entrants, ultimately winning poker’s most coveted prize late on the third and final day of competition.  He topped a final table which included some of the games most respected and accomplished pros.  Of special note was Benjamin Lazer’s runner-up finish -- in what was remarkably his first WSOP event ever. 
 
The final heads-up duel between Lazar and Ohel was a doozy.  The chip lead changed 14 times, by one estimate.  At one point, Ohel was down by a 16 to 1 margin.  A half hour later, he was ahead by the 3 to 1 advantage.  Then, 30 minutes later, the positions were reversed again.  Four more hours passed and the chip lead swung back and forth like a pendulum teetering on utter madness. 
 
Finally, Ohel came back from a third deficit of about 15 to 1 and managed to win a stunning victory that left everyone gathered around the final table in an odd mix of ecstasy and unabashed exhaustion.  The total bout went 6.5 hours -- making it one of the longest duels in the history of any limit match.*  Indeed, whether you love the game, hate it, or have never even heard of Lowball -- this was a fabulous heads-up showdown featuring two competitors who both deserved to win. 
 
The rest of the finale included David Baker, Farzad Bonyadi (3 wins), Jason Lavallee, and Shawn Buchanan.  As much as this stellar lineup appeared to be destined for as the stars of the finale, instead it was two relatively unknown players who stole the show and put on the poker performance of the year, to date.
 
New champ Ohel is originally from Coral Springs, FL.  He’s been playing poker full time for the past four years.  His total combined tournament winnings up to this point amounted to about $200,000 in live play.  However, he nearly doubled that amount tonight with this victory.  
 
The top 24 finishers collected prize money.  One of the more notable in-the-money finishers included Julie Schneider’s 11th-place finish.  She is the wife of former “WSOP Player of the Year” Tom Schneider.  Julie has posted a solid track record in her own right, with four WSOP cashes, including a third-place finish in this same event three years ago.

Two other notable cashers were Barry Greenstein (12th) and Berry Johnston (17th).  Both are members of the Poker Hall of Fame.  This was Greenstein’s 55th time in the money.  Johnston has cashed 63 times, which ranks in the top ten.

Ohel’s victory gives him his first WSOP title, to go along with four cashes, and $165,742 in career WSOP earnings.  
 
So, the bottom line was that a 26-year old player won first place.  And a player that had never played previously in any WSOP event finished second.

Damn upstart newcomers.
 
* Of all limit-formatted games in WSOP history, the only longer heads-up duel was the 2005 Razz event won by O'Neil Longson.
 
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EVENT HISTORY
 
Deuce-to-Seven Lowball made its tournament debut at the 1973 WSOP.  The game is rarely played anywhere except at the very highest levels.  It’s rarely spread inside public card rooms -- either as cash games or tournaments.  In fact, the WSOP is one of the few places where this poker variant is offered.  The game was tacked onto the WSOP schedule because it was the preferred game of many high-stakes cash game players.
 
The very first Deuce-to-Seven Lowball champion was Aubrey Day.  Since then, the Deuce-to-Seven gold bracelet has been won by a royal court of poker champions -- including Jack Straus, Sailor Roberts, Billy Baxter, Doyle Brunson, Bobby Baldwin, Sarge Ferris, Stu Ungar, Dewey Tomko, Seymour Lebowitz, Bob Stupak, John Bonetti, Freddy Deeb, Johnny Chan, Erik Seidel, Jennifer Harman, O’Neil Longsen, Barry Greenstein, and others.

There is some difference of opinion as to where and when this game originated.  Since the 1930s, variations of Lowball have been spread throughout California and Nevada.  According to poker theorist David Sklansky, Limit 'Double-Draw' Lowball was first spread at the (now defunct) Vegas World during the early 1980s.  Others cited a game called “Ten-Handed Triple-Draw Lowball” as the forebearer of Triple Draw, which was played at 'Amarillo Slim's' Super Bowl of Poker tournaments in Reno and Lake Tahoe during the period 1979 through 1984.  Since this long-gone form of poker could accommodate perhaps only three or four players at most due to the number of cards needed to complete a hand, reducing the number of cards (to five) enabled more players to sit in the game.
 
The lovable Leonard Martin won this event last year in what was another of the most exciting Lowball victories of all time.  The report of Martin's victory in 2011 can be found HERE.
 
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-- by Nolan Dalla