The Final Tune Up: Nick Schulman Wins Deuce-to-Seven World Championship
Just in the Nick of Time: Schulman Wins One of 2012 WSOP’s Last Gold Bracelets
Move Over for “The Takeover” – Schulman Wins Second High-Stakes Lowball Event
Schulman Wins Deuce-to-Seven for Second Time in Four Years
Latest Winner Collects $294,321 Top Prize
John Juanda Makes 2-7 Championship Final Table for Fourth Consecutive Year – Defending Champ Finishes Sixth
New York poker pro Nick Schulman laid claim to one of the last remaining bracelets of the 2012 World Series of Poker with his win Saturday evening in Event #60, the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball World Championship.
After getting the best of runner-up former gold bracelet winner Mike Wattel in a surprisingly brief heads-up duel, Schulman was awarded the sum of $294,321 in prize money, plus his second gold bracelet. Moreover, the 26-year-old eclipsed the seven-figure threshold with a total of $1,228,390 in career WSOP earnings.
Schulman's win tonight marked his second victory in this event -- a phenomenal accomplishment given the composition of the field -- which includes most of the top 100 or so poker players in the world. In 2009, he outlasted a then-record field of 96 players to take home his first WSOP bracelet and $279,742.
This year’s Draw Lowball championship drew 101 entries, generating a total prize pool of $949,400. The defending champion, John Juanda, seemed to be an ideal position to defend his title, after making the final table with a healthy stack size. But he fell short of doing so, ultimately finishing in sixth place.
No doubt, Schulman deserves the headline, with two wins in four years, which includes three final table appearances. However, a bold subheading goes to Juanda as well, for making the final table of this event for four consecutive years.
MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – NICK SCHULMAN
Name: Nick Schulman
Residence: New York, NY (and Las Vegas, NV)
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories: 2
WSOP Cashes: 16
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 8
WSOP Earnings: $1,228,390
Note: Schulman will be classified as a professional poker player in WSOP records, since he plays poker full-time.
INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: This is an event with a lot of history. How does it feel to be grouped with all the greats who have won this event in the past?
Schulman: Well, it’s a real honor. I’ve had the privilege to play cash games with some of those guys – like Billy Baxter and Doyle Brunson. You know, I’ve learned a lot from Billy, playing with him. And I mean, winning it again -- it’s just a great accomplishment but also a reminder of how tough it is and what needs to go right. And it’s just a great feeling, really. I’m very honored to have won it again. I don’t how some of these guys have won it six or seven times. I mean, it’s crazy.
Question: Is it tougher to go through a really brutal lineup of talented players like this event attracted or monster-sized field like 4,000 or so?
Schulman: Well, to be honest -- I think the 4,000 player field just cause of the stamina. For me, I know after a few days, is when I really start to wear down a little. But a tournament like this, it’s very exhausting. I mean, and there are so many great players, and you can’t really let your guard down ever or let your focus down. So, there both super tough. I’ve yet to conquer the field of 4,000, so I guess I have to say this one has been a little easier for me.
Question: Two wins. Three final tables. Would you consider yourself the best single-draw tournament player in the world?
Schulman: I really don’t think in those terms. I mean, I would consider John Juanda as that. I think he has four final tables. Tournaments -- you know if I complain a lot when I lose, so I can’t just, when I win, say I’m the best. A lot has to go right. I got it in a lot. I got all-in, or I wasn’t all in, but my opponent was, and I won most of those hands. So, you could play the best and be the best, and you’re still the big underdog to win a tournament. So, I think I’m one of the best for sure. I feel good about my game. But the best? I don’t know.
Question: Considering you’ve won this before, what was your mind set this time? What were you thinking, when you sat down on day one?
Schulman: Yeah. I love this event. I really enjoy it. So, I was just…I always have fun here, in this one. But I do feel strongly about my No-Limit Deuce-Seven game, so I’m always a little pumped up for this. I’m never really thinking victory on day one. I just kinda’ try to stay in the moment and play my best.
Question: Did being seated with another past winner, John Juanda, change things?
Schulman: I was lucky to be right on his left. It didn’t really change things. I just have really, like, the upmost respect for this game, so I just needed to stay focus; kind of play my game. I didn’t want to adjust to him too much. I wanted to just play and kind of take it from there. Obviously when he got knocked out -- I like him; he’s a friend -- but it was a nice feeling because he’s a great player. But everybody played great. This tournament does that. You need to get the right breaks at the right time, play your best, put yourself in a position to win and then just see what happens from there.
Question: Give us your endorsement of this game.
Schulman: Well, this game is kind of like really a sport. A lot of the other poker games…a lot of hands play themselves. This game is mentally and physically exhausting because there is a lot of situations where there is like, you’re either lying, or you’re telling the truth. Then there are situations where it’s in between. Where it’s, ‘I think you have that…but maybe I have this.’ And some of the things you can do in this game are unlike really any other poker game cause it’s entirely closed information. So, there’s, you know, you never see someone’s hand. You never see what they draw, what they catch, anything, until the end, which makes it fascinating. In ways, it’s very simple. You know, there’s a street before the draw and then a street after. But there’s just so many things to it. And the great thing about this game is you can learn the rules super quickly and get in there and play. And you learn a lot about yourself in this game. I mean, this game is brutal, but fun.
Question: What did you learn about yourself playing this game?
Schulman: You just have to be very resilient. You know, you need to trust yourself a lot because there are situations where, you know, a guy bets the end, and you really want to call. You have to try and figure it out. If you ever slip, and you just start guessing, it’s tough to maintain that, you know, in the long run. It’s hard to explain. But it’s a very exhausting game. You need to be tough and resilient and fight hard to do well in it. And I think that that can overcome talent in some situations. As long as you’re just fighting hard in every single hand -- and even the hands you’re not in -- studying your opponents, never giving an inch, you put yourself in the best situation in a game like this.
ODDS AND ENDS
This is the 1,019th gold bracelet to be awarded in WSOP history. It is also the 1,0131h WSOP event in history.
This was classified as WSOP schedule Event #60, since it’s the 60th gold bracelet of 61 to be awarded this summer in Las Vegas.
The final table included four former gold bracelet winners – Nick Schulman, Mike Wattel, John Juanda, and Larry Wright.
The runner-up was Mike Wattel, from Chandler, AZ.
John Juanda, who finished sixth made his fourth consecutive final table appearance in this event.
The top 14 finishers collected prize money. Aside from the final table players, former champions who cashed included Andy Bloch, Erik Seidel, Jason Mercier and Daniel Negreanu.
The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament end very late). The ceremony takes place inside Brasilia. The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament. The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 p.m. The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played. The entire presentation is open to public and media. Video and photography is permitted by both public and members of the media.
DEUCE-TO-SEVEN LOWBALL HISTORY
Billy Baxter holds every conceivable record in the Lowball category. He has dominated this form of poker in a manner that is unprecedented for any player in any game in history. Perhaps only the late poker legend Bill Boyd, who enjoyed similar domination in Five-Card Draw poker (which is no longer spread at the WSOP), can rival Baxter’s mastery of a single game. All of Baxter’s seven WSOP gold bracelets were won playing various forms of Lowball. He holds 16 WSOP cashes in Lowball events, the most of any player in this form of poker. To give some perspective of Baxter’s excellence, the current second-place leaders in Lowball career cashes are Bobby Baldwin and “Oklahoma Johnny” Hale, with nine each.
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, Howard Lederer, O’Neil Longsen, Barry Greenstein and others.
Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball means the worst, or lowest-ranked, hand wins the pot. The very best possible 2-7 lowball hand is 2-3-4-5-7 of mixed suits. An ace counts as a high card. Flushes and straights count against the player. While a wheel (A-2-3-4-5) is the perfect hand in standard lowball, in Deuce-to- Seven it is usually a losing hand since the ace counts as a high card against the player. So, K-2-3-4-5 is better than A-2-3-4-5.
In the “Triple-Draw” variant of this game, players may draw up to three times to make their hand. This
tournament employed a “Double-Draw” format.
There’s 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 forbearer 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 10-handed poker could only accommodate perhaps 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 game Deuce-to-Seven is sometimes called “Kansas City Lowball.”