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PN Blog: Everybody Loves Mixed Games at the 2018 WSOP

Benny Glaser

The 2018 World Series of Poker has almost reached the halfway point and some 30 events out of the 74 tournaments scheduled have already crowned the new owners of coveted gold bracelets. While a lot of the events feature the traditional (No-Limit) Hold'em, the WSOP also represents the opportunity for all mixed-game specialists to showcase their talents to a broader audience.

During most other international festivals, the mixed game tournaments only represent a tiny portion of the main schedule with rather small buy-ins. The exception may be the occasional High Roller event and annual festivals such as the Aussie Millions, but these events don't generally receive a lot of media coverage.

The U.S. circuit is slightly different. With online poker at the moment providing limited options, many players earn their living by grinding the live cash game tables and among those, the mixed games are gaining in popularity. Festivals such as the L.A. Poker Classic, under the guidance of Matt Savage, try to implement many different mixed events on American soil throughout the year.

Mixed Game Bracelet Spread by Country

Given all those factors, it comes as no surprise that the payout spots in mixed games during the WSOP are dominated by Americans. One such player who has seen plenty of success in both no-limit hold'em and mixed events is Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, who just won his unprecedented third $50,000 Poker Players Championship in Event #33, adding $1.239 million to his career earnings that are closing in on $17 million.

Although many of these mixed game events have been dominated by Americans, there are some exceptions to this rule of thumb. One of them is Australian Jeff Lisandro, who came agonizingly close to winning his seventh non-Hold'em bracelet in Event #31: $1,500 Seven Card Stud, eventually finishing runner-up to well-known music producer and poker enthusiast Steven Albini.

The United Kingdom scored two bracelets so far: Philip Long took down Event #22: $1,500 Eight Game Mix and Ben Dobson emerged victorious in Event #25: $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better. Stuart Rutter almost made it three but came up short in heads-up against Adam Friedman in Event #18: $10,000 Dealer's Choice 6-Handed.

Andrey Zhigalov joined the select group of Russian WSOP bracelet winners in mixed games after claiming the title in Event #15: $1,500 H.O.R.S.E., while Austria's Hanh Tran defeated Sweden's Oscar Johansson in Event #29: $1,500 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw. Germany got on the score board with the victory of Johannes Becker in Event #8: $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball, one year after Becker's runner-up finish in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.

Julien Martini
Frenchman Julien Martini won Event #4.

The first mixed game title was also claimed by a European. Among the last 16 in Event #4: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, there were 15 Americans and one Frenchman. Eventually, Julien Martini prevailed and ended up posing for the winner pictures. Martini, who calls Taiwan his home these days, had another close call at victory and finished 17th in Event #31.

Another European is well-known for his success in mixed events: Benny Glaser (pictured in lead photo) won his first bracelet in 2015 and added two Omaha Hi-Lo titles to his collection in 2016. Glaser reached the final table of Event #33: $50,000 Poker Players Championship and was rightfully excited about the opportunity to further engrave his name in poker history. “Through to Day 5 and the Final Table of the $50k PPC! One of the most prestigious events of the year,” the Brit shared via his Twitter account. He ultimately busted in fifth place for $260,578.

Shift to Showcasing More Mixed Games

The pinnacle of mixed-game events in the annual summer camp attracts some of the biggest names in poker and gathers a lot of attention. With a live stream on Twitch for Day 4 and the final table action available on PokerGO, some of the best in the business can be followed on their path to glory. Up to 19 mixed-game events were scheduled to be shown via both live stream platforms and, most importantly, also recorded to be reviewed at a later time.

This marks an important step to give the mixed games and its aficionados the attention and recognition they deserve, while the usual spotlight is just on the winners of the biggest Hold'em tournaments of the summer. Hopefully this trend will continue, as the numbers of most mixed-game events have been increasing throughout the years. It is important for the overall growth of poker to spread the word about game types other than Hold'em, as they will teach valuable lessons about how to approach vital situations in poker in general.

Mixed Game Challenges for Live Reporters

Obviously, this entire point of view is slightly biased, as I mostly get to cover non-Hold'em events in my fourth year as a live reporter at the WSOP. Back in 2014, I was thrown into the cold waters of covering a Seven Card Stud tournament, a Championship Event to boot, and it took a while to get used to the speed of play. There is barely any tanking in mixed games, and to make things even more difficult for those covering the events, showdown cards get quickly mashed together to show the strength to the hand while losing hands in multi-way split pot games are mucked almost instantly.

Both Hold'em and mixed games represent different challenges for live reporting. Not many bloggers / poker live reporters know all the different games as proficiently, and the WSOP is the only real opportunity per year to cover them in order to gain more experience in it and improve on the writing of those hand histories. Mistakes are bound to happen, and player feedback is vital to point out and narrow down the potential errors.

As far as Hold'em events are concerned, the challenge lies in the number of entries and knowing players from all over the world. Not every mid-stakes grinder from the United States, Europe, South America or Asia will be immediately recognized by the various live reporters with hundreds, if not thousands, of players in their seats for each WSOP mass-field event.

Still to Come

Several players have already made a name for themselves during the 2018 WSOP so far, and the action is slowly but surely gearing up for the $10,000 Main Event. Until then, several mixed-game specialists will continue taking their shot at winning a bracelet in the remaining mixed events.

Among the ongoing and upcoming non-Hold'em highlights are the Seven Card Stud Hi and Hi-Lo Championship, the two Pot-Limit Omaha High Rollers, the Razz Championship, and many more. Coverage will continue to be brought to you from the tournament floor by PokerNews, so be sure to follow along.

  • PN Blog: Who's winning mixed games @WSOP?

  • Fans at home can watch more than a dozen non-Hold'em WSOP streams this summer.

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