Thursday, May 06, 2010

Draw Poker Drama

Draw Poker DramaNight before last I had the task of covering one of the five-card draw tourneys for PokerStars (another SCOOP event). An interesting moment came up right at the end of that one that I thought I’d share. First, however, a little aside about covering draw games.

From the reporting side of things, flop games, draw games, and stud games all present various elements and/or challenges unique to each.

For flop games, the cards are important (of course), but a lot of the story of the hand is told via the betting. When it comes to flop games, getting bet amounts correct and keeping track of the size of the pot is easily the biggest challenge -- when reporting live tourneys, that is. (Grabbing all that from hand histories for these online events, natch.) Although at the live event, noting all of the cards in everyone’s hands at an Omaha showdown can be tricky sometimes, too.

In terms of writing up action, stud games are probably the least enjoyable (for me) if only because it can get so unwieldy describing all of the streets, explaining hands as they are being built, and recounting the betting which can change order with every new card.

Comparatively speaking, draw games are probably the easiest to follow. And -- perhaps contrary to expectations -- can be especially fun to watch and report on, too.

There are lots of showdowns in draw games, which tends to make for a satisfying conclusion to the story of a hand. Can be a little wearying recounting the discards in each round of a triple-draw game, but there are ways of communicating that information without being too tedious. Fixed limit betting (as in stud games) isn’t always so exciting to recount, either. But some of these draw games feature pot-limit or no-limit betting, which can get pretty interesting as one tries to gauge how the bet sizes plus the number of cards drawn together can suggest hand strength.

In fact, when I think about my favorite live tourneys covered, I remember the $2,500 Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw event from 2008 -- event no. 40, won by John Phan -- as one of the more exciting events I’ve ever watched.

Lots of drama in that one, partly thanks to Phan’s endearing-slash-provoking personality, but also thanks to the dynamics of the game itself. (F-Train and I were on that one -- you can see our coverage here.) Also, sometime after that event, I wrote a bit about that final table in a post that contrasted Phan’s aggressive play to that of David Sklansky, who finished sixth in that event.

Anyhow, to get back to the SCOOP event I was covering earlier in the week. It was the “Low” version ($11 buy-in) of the pot-limit 5-card draw event. So just one draw, and just two rounds of betting. As I’m suggesting, it was a genuinely interesting event to watch, with a lot of head games going on as players routinely used position -- crucially important in pot-limit games and in draw games -- to put opponents to tough decisions.

Once the tourney reached heads-up, the final two battled for a while until the one with the historically-significant username “Benny Binion” had built nearly a 6-to-1 advantage over his opponent, “fly44.” Then came a hand in which Benny had the button. Before the draw, he raised pot, fly44 reraised, and soon they had fly44 all in. fly44 discarded three cards, which had to be a good sign for Benny. Then Benny also discarded three cards. Even before the showdown, Benny was already typing gibberish in the chatbox, the reason for which was soon made clear.

The hands were revealed,and fly44 had a pair of tens. Benny Binion showed Ks2dAd3c2c -- a pair of deuces. Then he typed “I had KK.” When discarding, he’d accidentally clicked on one of his kings and tossed it with his other cards. Now the poor guy was miserable, seeing he’d literally tossed away a winner.

fly44 soon got back to even, and the whole thing was starting to turn into a tragedy of sorts, but Benny retook the advantage and eventually won the sucker.

Curious to see. Actually, it will happen not infrequently in the lowball draw games that players will “break” their made hands before a last draw, fearing they are behind, only to discover they’d thrown away a winner.

I particularly recall a hand from last summer, one involving Layne Flack and Eric Crain at the final table of the $2,500 Mixed Event, in which something along those lines had occurred. In a 2-7 Triple Draw hand, Crain stood pat after the last draw and Flack decided to toss one card. Crain then won the hand with a 9-5-4-3-2. Afterward, a fairly distraught Flack revealed he’d broken a hand that was in fact the same one Crain showed down, tossing the nine and picking up a jack.

PokerNews has recently reconfigured its tourney archives a little, making it easier to find hands and link to ’em -- so, if yr curious, here’s that one: “Bad Break for Flack.” And yes, there is a pun in that headline.

Anyhow, it was curious to watch Benny Binion talking about having accidentally broken his hand like that. He kept saying in the chatbox how he was rewatching it in the replayer, torturing himself for the next few minutes.

There is no five-card draw at the WSOP, as all of the draw games are lowball games. In fact, they have been for some time. The last time a five-card high draw event was played for a bracelet was 1982.

The winner? David Sklansky.

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Blogger FC said...

If you were to start a campaign for bringing 5 card draw back to the WSOP you would have my vote!

2/21/2014 4:00 PM  

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