“Sameness is the mother of disgust, variety the cure.”
From November 26-30, Cardplayer Lifestyle and Robbie Strazynski will be hosting the sixth edition of The Mixed Game Festival at the Resorts World Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. There will be Hi(gh)s and Lo(w)s across five days of razzle-dazzle-studded Omaholism, culminating in a $260 HORSE Main Event tournament.
the winner of the HORSE event will be awarded a WPT Voyage Prize Package
If that’s not enough to tempt poker’s all-rounders, the winner of the HORSE event will be awarded a WPT Voyage Prize Package, courtesy of the lovely people over at WPT, who, incidentally, will be just across the road in the Wynn from November 29 for The WPT World Championship Festival.
The Mixed Game Festival will also feature a $260 Omaha 8/Stud 8 tournament on November 27, a poker quiz on November 28, the book launch of ‘Mastering Small Stakes No Limit Hold’em Tournaments’ by Lexy Gavin-Mather on November 29, and round-the-clock $4/8 and $8/16 cash games of every type with bigger games available on request.
VegasSlotsOnline News spoke with Robbie Strazynski to ask him about the Mixed Game Festival.
The world’s biggest home game
David Lappin: Firstly, congratulations Robbie. The Mixed Game Festival VI at Resorts World Las Vegas is a mouth-watering prospect, especially with that $5,000 WPT Voyage Prize Package added for the champion of the HORSE tournament. You always manage to add value to your events. Do you feel like doing so addresses the imbalance in poker whereby all the love normally goes to the Hold’em players?
Robbie Strazynski: Thanks for your congratulations! I’m grateful to have a sixth opportunity to hopefully put on a great show for mixed game poker lovers, and having the WPT support Cardplayer Lifestyle’s latest live event with such an amazing grand prize package really is awesome!
I’ve never really thought of the situation as an “imbalance.” That said, it has always bugged me – as a lover, proponent of, and advocate for mixed game poker – that you can’t just walk into any poker room in the world and find a low-stakes mixed game running. In home games all over the world, people are getting their reps in playing all sorts of poker variants, from stud games to flop games to draw games, and even some funky wild games.
an outlet for folks who enjoy non-Hold’em poker variants at a non-nosebleed price point
In a major way, that’s always been the inspiration for running my Mixed Game Festivals; to provide an outlet for folks who enjoy non-Hold’em poker variants at a non-nosebleed price point. In a way, we’re running “the world’s biggest home game.”
At the end of the day, I’m aiming to showcase just how enjoyable non-Hold’em variants can be, and all of the value adds, freebies, and extras we try to incorporate into the Mixed Game Festival certainly help contribute to that fun type of atmosphere.
Work on your game… and your tan
DL: You have partnered again with the Resorts World Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. I had the opportunity to play there for the first time last year and I must say I really liked not just the poker room but also the property. The food court and various shops right there beside the poker room make it less of an oppressive casino vibe. That’s something that I think most poker players really appreciate. What’s your review of that location?
RS: Any poker room that goes out of its way – as Resorts World clearly does – to show love to mixed game players has a special place in my heart. Across the board, from the room’s manager Leon Wheeler to floorpersons, dealers, and other staff, they’re first-rate professionals who always welcome poker players with genuine affection.
I’ve had the good fortune to stay on-property a few times and it really is a top-notch establishment. I have a particular fondness for their pool area, which is where you’ll likely find me working on my tan on a Saturday before a Mixed Game Festival begins. Also, their Alle Lounge on 66, on the resort’s top floor, is a really nice spot to grab a drink, offering incredible daytime and nighttime views of the entire city of Las Vegas. It’s a must-visit.
Focus on the long-term
DL: In the last article I wrote about the Mixed Game Festival, I called mixed game players ‘poker’s elephant men.’ One part of that is the lack of love they get which you’ve already talked about. The other part is how challenging it is to grow mixed games when that love is not forthcoming. What’s the single biggest thing an operator, live or online, could do to market mixed games better?
RS: Think and invest appropriately in the players for the long-term. With apologies for the imagery, perhaps it’s time for more operators to consider shearing the sheep instead of skinning them. Sure, you will always be able to deal more cash game hands per hour and thus collect more hourly rake from NLHE. But players can (and often, unfortunately, do!) quite literally go bust in minutes and it might be a while before they’re able to return to the felt, if at all.
Mixed games tend to run for hours with far less player turnover (a.k.a., “churn”), and you’ll almost always notice a lively and chatty vibe. The players are having fun, even at higher stakes tables. The operator is still making money, albeit at a slower pace, for hosting the games, and no players are usually getting stung too badly, no matter how great the suckouts they might experience.
the marketing essentially takes care of itself. And operators will still make plenty of money
Win or lose, those players will always come back to play again because they’ve had a great time. Those players will naturally forge a loyalty to the venue/operator. Once you start thinking longer-term, and giving players an enhanced experience where their bankroll or discretionary money for playing poker goes further, the marketing essentially takes care of itself. And operators will still make plenty of money!
To point, I’ve quite literally been recommending Resorts World as THE go-to establishment for any mixed game player I meet since they opened their doors a little over two years ago. It’s no accident that this is the fourth time we’ll be staging a Mixed Game Festival there.
DL: The WPT Wynn is going to draw huge crowds to Las Vegas in late November and December. That’s got to be good news for The Mixed Game Festival as Resorts World is just across the road. What kind of numbers are you anticipating for the HORSE Main Event?
RS: Fortunately, we don’t seem to be facing too much “direct competition” around town that particular day, November 30. I’m hoping that some people already intending to participate in the WPT festivities might consider moving their trip up by a couple of days and also taking a shot at winning a $5,000 WPT Voyage Grand Prize Package.
With a very reasonable $260 ($220+$40) buy-in, we’re offering some excellent added value on top of what’s likely to be a prize pool that exceeds $15,000. If we manage to attract over 100 runners, I’ll be one very happy Mixed Game Festival host!
Sleep on the plane
DL: Finally Robbie… you are a writer and editor. You translated Eli Elezra’s excellent autobiography. You run the excellent Cardplayer Lifestyle website. You are also a poker enthusiast who I know savors every moment that you can be on the tables, be it a home game or a cash game while on the road. In fact, the last time I saw you was in Las Vegas last December. I remember you were leaving the next day and you were pulling an all-nighter, jumping between various cash games on the Strip. Can you describe how that passion for the game motivates you in your other endeavours?
RS: We’ve got a great term in poker, and that’s “all-in.” By definition, our time in this world is limited. It’s the one commodity that even the wealthiest among us cannot buy more of. As such, I believe that it behooves us to try and make the most of the time we have. Whatever endeavor you decide to pursue, you ought to make the effort to be “all-in” with it.
when you love what you’re doing it doesn’t really feel like work
I love poker. My personal life circumstances, being a father of three living in Israel, make it such that pursuing a career as a professional player was never really in the cards. But I’ve thankfully found a way, through my media pursuits, to live that Cardplayer Lifestyle I’ve always craved. It took a leap of faith and “going all-in” level of commitment – along with good fortune from Above and the support of many wonderful and talented people – for me to make it to this stage, but when you love what you’re doing it doesn’t really feel like work.
When you don’t really have legal live or online poker available to you, it makes the rare times you do that much more special, as something you can truly appreciate and not take for granted. So, as for those all-nighter sessions that I love doing on my trips, as Eli once memorably told me: “Sleep on the plane, Robbie.”
Cards will be in the air from midday on November 26 as The Cardplayer Lifestyle Mixed Game Festival kicks off with a pizza party. This hybrid festival, incorporating both cash games and tournaments, is sure to be a big hit with lovers of variety and will hopefully convince some Hold’em purists to dabble in the mix. Robbie Strazynski is all-in. Are you?