Mixed game formats have proven to be very popular when offered as part of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) schedule. H.O.R.S.E. was the first multigame event introduced at the WSOP, a five-game mix that debuted in 2002. It was followed by four-game variants, such as H.O.S.E. and S.H.O.E., leading up to a new World Championship Mixed Event featuring eight different games in 2008.
In 2011, a new gold bracelet event was inaugurated to include a mind-boggling ten different poker games. Predictably, the event was dubbed the “Ten Game Mix.” Under the rules set out for that first installment, the buy-in was $2,500, each table seated six players and games changed every eight hands.
All of the games that make up the original “Eight Card Mix” were part of this new event. The two additions were a No-Limit version of 2-7 Draw Lowball and a true newcomer to the world of WSOP poker—Badugi. This marked the first time in history the game had ever been played as part of any WSOP gold bracelet event.
Believed to have originated in South Korea, where it was popular among American military personnel stationed there in the 1960s and 1970s, Badugi had already become a favourite among high-stakes poker players before its sanctioning by the WSOP. Because the lowest hand wins, the game shares many similarities with Lowball, but with a different hand-ranking system.
Apparently the addition of this innovation to the Ten Game Mix did not deter many players, professional or amateur. Before play got underway, the grueling three-day Event #29 had drawn an incredible 431 entries, creating a prize pool of $980,525.
The order of games for the new attraction followed a fixed sequence, starting with No-Limit Hold’em and followed by Seven Card Razz, Limit Hold’em and then Badugi (Limit). After those would come Seven Card Stud, 2-7 Draw Lowball (No-Limit), Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better and Pot-Limit Omaha (No Ante). The rotation finished up with 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (Limit) and Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better.
Players began the first round with 7,500 in Tournament Chips and played “levels” lasting 60 minutes. Stakes increased at each level change, with eight levels to be played on Day One, ten levels on Day Two and as many levels as needed to determine the winner on Day Three. As it happened, three days of eliminations proved insufficient. As the event hall closed on the third day, three players still remained and an extra day of competition was required.
In the end, online grinder Chris “Genius28” Lee of Clarksville, Maryland survived as the bracelet winner, defeating WSOP veterans Brian Haveson and Travis Pearson. Lee’s share of the prize pool was $254,955. Owing to the diversity of games and acute level of skill involved, the new champion could credibly boast that he was “the best poker player in the world.”
In 2012, the Ten Game Mix returned to the WSOP as Event #52. Fully 420 hopefuls plucked down the $2,500 entry fee for three days of six-handed play. This time it was a female professional who conquered the field. American Vanessa Selbst claimed her second WSOP bracelet and the $244,259 top prize.
Of particular interest, however, four non-Americans finished among the Top Ten in the second installment. Representing Great Britain, Chris Bjorin of London and Mathew Ashton of Liverpool came in 4th and 10th, respectively. Meanwhile the French contingent landed Julien Renard of Strasbourg in 7th and Gabriel Nassif of Paris in 9th. It’s one more indication of just how adroit European poker players have become in the year following the United States’ crackdown on online poker, where opportunities to hone skills at games like Badugi abound.