Someone once said "They play Razz in Hell." The 2009 World Series of Poker
may be a far cry from Hell on most days but players in the $2,500 Seven Card Razz (Event 44)
were feeling the flames on Tuesday.
"It's a game where you can have the nut hand and the next two cards dealt can make you lose it. You can go from leader to dog in one card," said 2009 WSOP bracelet
winner Zac Fellows
, 24, who usually spends his days at the WSOP counting chips for the official live updates, sat down at the tables for the old school game on Monday. Doft was able to make it to Day 2 but was busted about 2 hours in by Fellows.
The field for Event 44 included bona-fide old schoolers Doyle Brunson
, Archie Karas
, Eskimo Clark
and Jerry Buss
. "Razz is not an action game," Doft said. "It's definitely a game of discipline. Most players my age like to play No Limit Hold 'em because it's all-in all over the place."
The Razz event has been played at the WSOP since 1973. The inaugural winner of the $1,000 buy-in event was Sam Angel
who took home top prize of $32,000 and a WSOP bracelet. Angel won the same event again in 1975, taking home his second bracelet but the top prize was considerably less, only $17,000.
Razz typically sees a smaller field compared to the other events at the WSOP. Many attribute the low numbers to the fact that it can be a painfully frustrating game at times. "You can start out with a great hand and just never get there," Doft said. "An opponent can sense what you are going for and can tell when you aren't getting it."
The game turned so frustrating on Tuesday that Al "Suger Bear" Barbieri
was given a one round penalty when he got into an argument with Steven Diano
. Danio was upset when an opponent got a good card in the door and made a comment about the other player's abilities.
Barbieri thought it inappropriate in a game of Razz to call out another opponents success when he hit a good card and was penalized when he said to Danio "I guess we learned from that hand that you are a jackass."
It is almost impossible to find a live Razz game nowadays. A few games can be found at old school casinos like Binions but for the most part, Razz is a dying game.
"The most we have ever had in this event is about 400 players," said WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla. "It's kind of a dead game, most of the low-ball games are really dying out." "Lowball games were played in California from the 1930's to the 1980's because that was all that was legal. The WSOP started lowball games to attract the players from California," Dalla said.
Such a dead game has begun to attract a younger generation of players. "There is a lot of dead money in this tournament that you wouldn't see at a WSOP event," Fellows said. "It's so unpopular, people don't have the motivation to learn it properly."
"Guys talk about how bad the game is every hand, but they put the money in to play," Fellows said. "The game is going to be Razz when you buy into a Razz tournament.