Saturday, June 29, 2013

2013 WSOP, Day 31: Mixed Games, Vegetables

Back on the beat yesterday with Event No. 50, the $2,500 10-Game Mix. And yes, I did report some Badugi hands.

They’re down to 20 now from a starting field of 372, and last year’s 12th-place finisher in the WSOP Main Event Scott Abrams leads everyone at the moment. In addition to Abrams, Robert Williamson III returns to a healthy stack, while Greg Raymer, Bruno Fitoussi, and Konstantin Puchkov are among those on the short side who’ll need to gather some chips early.

The tourney was fun to follow, although frequently challenging. Tables all start with the same game but then change games every orbit, meaning it doesn’t take long for all to get out of sync and be playing different games as you move from one to the next. Thus is it necessary when sidling up to a table first to get a peek at the stack of black, rectangular placards indicating the different games and see which was on top, then follow the action from there.

At times one could tell players and dealers were having to slow down and remind each other what the games and stakes were. There were frequent references to laminated copies of the complicated structure sheet throughout the day and night. Comments were made about certain games being mostly foreign to some (especially Badugi). I’m sure there were errors made here and there as well, although we couldn’t always pick up on those.

Scotty Nguyen busted in 21st late last night in a stud hand, for instance, and I actually think from something he said on seventh street after looking up at the placard that he might have possibly thought the game was stud/8. Perhaps he did not, though, as I’m convinced with Nguyen almost anything is possible, baby, including feinting what might appear to be the making of such a slip.

That said, I do think it’s true that even the best players can occasionally get a little mixed up by the 10-game mix.

Of the 10 games, four are flop games (NLHE, LHE, PLO, O/8), three are stud games (razz, stud, stud/8), and three are draw games (2-7 NL single draw, 2-7 fixed limit triple draw, and Badugi).

As an observer, if you don’t get a glimpse of the placard right away it’s easy to be confused by what you’re watching as a hand play out, even though the larger categorical distinctions (flop, stud, draw) are stark enough. But it can still be challenging, say, to note all of the cards coming out in a stud/8 hand and the sequence in which they appear plus catch all the bets and everything else, especially if you start out with any uncertainty about which stud game is being played.

I found myself thinking a lot about the draw games, and how from the standpoint of an observer they appear a much more abstract form of poker insofar as it is only the drawing and betting that signifies and no community cards or upcards. We know nothing of the hands, and so the decisions made regarding bets and draws come to represent the terms of conflict between players, providing evidence of certain hand strengths but no actual cards onto which the viewer can fix.

From the players’ view, the draw games aren’t as abstract as they do have cards to look at in their hand and thus knowledge about what cards their opponents cannot have. I think on some level there exists a great deal of overlap between the 10 games for the players as far as making hands and the application of tournament strategy is concerned.

Was a long day and I enjoyed getting a chance to work with Josh before he leaves in a few days to start production on his film, Multiplex.

The day was pleasantly interrupted by an hour-long dinner with Vera for which we ordered some All American Dave for dinner, which was definitely as good as advertised by all of the players, staff, and media who’ve been championing it. I had the Dijon Almond Chicken while Vera got the Mango Wasabi Glazed Tuna, and there was a nice mix of vegetables to go along with our dishes including broccoli, asparagus, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, plus avocado slices and brown rice. Delicious.

The convenience of ordering -- they’ll bring the food right to the table, or you can walk out the back of the Rio and pick it up -- makes it a great option for players. It seems wrong, actually, that a healthy alternative such as this should be such a unique thing, but in any case it’s nice to have a not-so-difficult way to get a few veggies while working 14-15 hour days like this.

Vera and I got to pack a lot into the days she was here, and I was grateful for having a little time off to enjoy with her. Just took her back to the airport this morning, and so will be riding out these last couple of weeks solo. Hard to believe the Main Event is already right around the corner, starting a week from today (!).

Meanwhile, if you’re curious to see how the 10-game mix plays out and whether any more Badugi hands get reported, check the live reporting today on the PokerNews blog.

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Blogger Rakewell said...

About the difficulty of following a hand if you don't know which game is in rotation:

When playing odd poker variants, I have often wondered this: What if you had never heard of poker, knew nothing about the game except for familiarity with a 52-card deck, and had to figure out the rules (including, of course, hand values) just by watching the game being played. How long would it take you? Which games would be easiest and hardest to nail down? (Let's stipulate that you're deaf, so can't overhear players' chat or dealers announcing winning hand values.)

Perhaps the easiest would be 5-card stud. I think the hardest of the ones I've played would be a beast called 3-2-1 Omaha, in which there are 3 flops, 2 turns, and 1 river, and you combine those elements, plus 2 out of 4 cards from your hand, to make the best high-only hand. I'm not sure it would ever be possible to figure that one out by observation, unless you worked up to it by figuring out simpler ones first.

6/29/2013 1:48 PM  

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