The 2017 WSOP schedule has 11 events that can be classified as mixed events. That total is reflective of a growing trend over the last decade pertaining to mixed games.
In the early years of the Poker Boom, the primary focus was on Texas Hold’em with a majority of that focus on NL. Some games like Seven Card Stud seemed doomed to fall by the wayside.
Online poker sites largely contributed to a resurgence in other forms of poker. That resurgence was highlighted in 2006 when the WSOP began offering the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Event.
While in time the event became the Poker Players Championship and now features an 8-Game format, the popularity in other forms of poker continues to grow. PL Omaha Hi-Lo now has a $10k Championship due to demand.
Prior to the Poker Boom, mixed games tournaments were truly rare. Today we take a look back at this history of mixed tournaments at the World Series of Poker.
Mixed Event for the New Millenium – Ladies Only
The first mixed poker tournament in WSOP history did not happen until 2000. That year, the first Limit Hold’em – Seven Card Stud Event was held but it was not an open-field event. Instead, the first ever mixed tournament was the Ladies Championship.
Nani Dollison won the first of her three WSOP bracelets that year, defeating Martine Oules head-up for the title and $53,200.
This format was used for the Ladies Championship through 2003. It switched to Limit Hold’em only in 2004 and then NL Hold’em from 2005 forward.
The Men Try on a S.H.O.E. in 2001
In 2001, the men got a turn at playing a mixed tournament when S.H.O.E. was added to the schedule. Stud, Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Stud Hi-Lo were played in rotation and David Pham was the eventual champion of the event.
SHOE and the Ladies Championship were the only mixed tournaments on the 2001 WSOP schedule.
SHOE stayed on the schedule through 2003 and was attempted once more in 2007. It has not been offered since.
WSOP Rode Through the Desert on a H.O.R.S.E. With Big Names
Starting in 2002, the WSOP started offering H.O.R.S.E. as part of their mixed event offerings. All the same games of SHOE but with the addition of Razz.
John “World” Hennigan won the first ever HORSE tournament that year and in the years following, the event has been won by some of the biggest names in the game.
With the exception of 2005, HORSE has remained the anchor of the mixed event portion of the WSOP schedule. In 2006, the first ever high roller event in WSOP history featured a $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event won by the late Chip Reese.
The Men Get to Play the Ladies Championship – Sorta
The women weren’t the only ones playing Half Hold’em – Half Stud in 2002. The WSOP decided to hold an open version of the event.
A solid field of 144 players entered the event with Dan Heimiller eventually winning the bracelet.
The following year, only 89 players entered the event and Chris Ferguson eventually took the title.
After 2003, the WSOP decided to drop both version of Half Hold’em – Half Stud.
WSOP Starts Getting Creative in 2007
After the success of the $50k HORSE in 2006, the WSOP decided to get a bit creative in 2007. That year they added two new mixed tournaments to the schedule.
The first was a Half Omaha 8 – Half Stud 8 Event. A popular event amongst split-pot lovers, Tom Schneider won the first of two bracelets that year in the event.
The other new addition to the schedule was Mixed Hold’em. This event was half Limit Hold’em and half NL Hold’em. Fred Goldberg eventually won the event for $204k.
Coupled with three HORSE events and the last ever SHOE event, the WSOP was beginning to evolve into a mixed gamers haven.
When first added, the $50K HORSE was considered by some to be the “True World Championship of Poker.” However, by 2008 there were others saying that 8-Game was the true test of poker ability.
Take the games of HORSE and add 2-7 Triple Draw, PL Omaha and NL Hold’em and you cover all the bases of poker skill.
In 2008, the first Mixed Event was offered, which was essentially an 8-Game mix. The popularity of the format led to the eventual evolution of the $50k HORSE into the $50k Poker Player’s Championship in 2010.
The last four winners of the Poker Players' Championship: Brian Rast, Michael Mizrachi, Matt Ashton, John Hennigan. pic.twitter.com/p99Ma061oW— WSOPMemories (@WSOPMemories) June 22, 2015
Let’s Add MORE Games to the Mix
Just when you thought there wasn’t a way to add any more games to a WSOP event, officials started offering a 10-Game Mix in 2011. Adding NL 2-7 and Badugi to 8-Game resulted in a solid crowd of 431 players coming out to play the event.
Ten games weren’t even enough as WSOP officials decided to experiment with Dealer’s Choice in 2014. The Dealer’s Choice event offers 16 different forms of poker at once.
Take all the games of 10-Game and add Badacey, Badeucey, A-5 Lowball, Five Card Draw, Big O and Stud Hi-Low Regular. The very first event saw a low of Badacey and Badeucey played.
Just keeping the rules for that many games straight is a challenge for some, so being able to masterfully play those games and win a bracelet is a true test of poker prowess.
Looking Forward to the Future
In just 16 years, the WSOP went from having just a single mixed tournament to having a wide variety of options for most players.
Looking ahead to the 2017 WSOP, players can look forward to HORSE, Dealer’s Choice, 8-Game, Mixed Triple Draw, OE and a Big Bet Mix that includes Big O, PL Omaha Hi-Lo, NL 5 Card Draw, PL Omaha, PL Triple Draw and NL 2-7 Single Draw.
As mixed games continue to gain popularity, rest assured that the WSOP will meet demand and experiment with a few new combinations.