In the wake of Erick Lindgren’s victory Wednesday night, Lindgren was talking about his love for the World Series of Poker. In winning his first bracelet, he only had one regret; the final table had caused him to miss Event #8 ($10,000 Mixed Game World Championship), which saw eight games – Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven-card Stud, Eight or Better, No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha and Triple Draw 2-7 – rotated evenly. For those who see ‘true poker’ as being more than just Hold’em, it’s a dream come to fruition in the constant evolution of the WSOP. Players came out in solid numbers, with 192 players putting up the cash for the chance to call themselves mixed games world champion.
A baby of the Players Advisory Council (PAC), the tournament was born out of a desire to continue the good work done with the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event to bridge cash game players with tournament play. Said Cyndy Violette, a new addition to the PAC, “We just started talking about having the mix games and how H.O.R.S.E. doesn’t have the other games. We decided to make the mixed games all the games, like at the Bellagio. This is really a nod to the mixed cash games.”
Fellow PAC member Robert Williamson III echoes the sentiments. “We actually had a lot of feedback that H.O.R.S.E. was a thorough championship but was missing a lot of the other games that were played in the highest games in the world. With input from the top players in the world we decided to add the games they play regularly. We’re very pleased with the turnout and we definitely have our work cut out for us next year trying to tweak the structure a little bit. I do think we have a good chance of having a true mixed game specialist win that event.”
Midway through the second day of play, chip leader Tom Dwan was gushing about this latest development. “The structure’s awesome and I hope I win. I think it should be nine games because No Limit Single Draw is left out. I think it’s a really good game. Other than that I think the blinds need to be adjusted slightly, but the event is really good.” Marcel Luske, sitting to Dwan’s left, added “You see a lot of good players with a lot of chips and that’s what the game’s all about. I think the best players will be on the top.” While the message with Hold’em is often ‘anyone can win’, in an event like this, the best players being on top is a solid development for future mixed game events.
The most excited proponents seem to be the most regular visitors to the Big Game in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio, in part because of the natural advantage that comes with having played the games so regularly, in part because of the challenge inherent in mixing things up. Brandon Adams was amongst the gushers. “It’s a lot of fun. No one plays eight games perfectly, so everyone takes a shot, play some games well, some poorly and strategize around that. It has a very nice structure, even at this point with 30 players left.”
Said Eli Elezra; “I finally love to see that they’re coming to our backyard. We play these games at Bellagio every night for the last 15 years. People want to know what the big boys are doing and this is what we’re doing. I think the regulars in the Big Game have the advantage. You have to be very talented, going from Limit to Pot Limit to No Limit, back and forth. This might be the future. For mixed game events like H.O.R.S.E., this might be the one that carries over.”
“I’m going to like it if I win it” Gus Hansen said with a grin from behind a large stack. “No, I like it. You have the big H.O.R.S.E. event they added a few years ago. This is a little mixture of not all the games, but it adds No Limit Hold’em with a good structure with big antes so you can’t just sit back. I know some people like to just play the Limit games and sit out the Pot Limit and No Limit games but the blinds and antes structure have made up for that. I’m doing well, so I like the tournament.”
Last year’s WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider won his two bracelets in some of poker’s lesser played games. It’s no surprise he’s thriving here. “I love this game. This is a lot of fun. It’s nice to get a lot of variation, get a little Pot Limit and No Limit in there because it adds a different element. A lot of players don’t know how to play all the games so, you need to be playing the players that are weak in a certain game and try to pick on them for that game. It addressed a lot of the games that people play in cash games. It’s a great addition.”
The final word here goes to the man who first told the world about the event, WSOP Communications Director, Seth Palansky. Seldom political, Palansky’s attitude was surprising as a result. “I think it’s terrific. I think the players have shown up en masse, it’s a great group of guys thus far and we hope they all win a bracelet.”
Gary Wise is covering the WSOP all summer for WorldSeriesofPoker.com, espn.com/poker and in his blog at www.wisehandpoker.net.