Playing Mixed Games by Jennifer Harman

Despite what you see on TV, there’s much more to poker than just Hold ’em. The great players are judged by how they play all the games. In the big cash games at the Bellagio, we play an assortment of games every night and at the World Series of Poker*, they’ve introduced a $50,000 buy-in HORSE tournament that attracts many of the world’s top professionals.

This week, Full Tilt Poker will begin spreading mixed cash games for players of all limits. It’s a great opportunity to experience the fun and challenge that comes from playing a variety of games in a single session without putting a huge dent in your bankroll. While a lot of fun, mixed games do have some challenges and, for this tip, I want to give some suggestions that will help you starting out.

One of the hardest things for new mixed games players to become comfortable with is the flow of play. With games switching every 10 hands, it can be difficult to instantly adjust your thinking in order to concentrate fully on the game at hand. It will take some time and experience, but eventually, you’ll be able to go from Omaha Hi/Lo to Razz and be ready to play your best as soon as the games switch.

Until you’re comfortable with the game flow, here are some pointers that can help make the switch to mixed games a little easier:

  • Be sure you’re playing the right game! I play a lot of HORSE Sit & Gos at Full Tilt Poker and, in almost every one, there’s a player or two who makes the mistake of playing Razz when the game is Stud, or vice-versa. Even in the big game at the Bellagio, this sort of mix-up happens all the time.
  • Work on your weakest games. If you find that your Stud Hi/Lo game isn’t as strong as it could be, spend some time at the Stud Hi/Lo tables and work on improving your skills. Put in enough hours at each individual game so that you’re grasping the subtleties of all of them when you play a mixed game.
  • Play stronger in your best games than in your weaker games. You may be a master at Stud and feel you can play a lot of different hands well in that game. But if your Omaha Hi/Lo is relatively weak, you’ll need to tighten up in that game and play only premium starting hands. Look for starting hands like A-A-2-3 suited or A-2-K-Q that offer the potential to make both the nut high and nut low, allowing you to scoop as many pots as possible. Or in Razz, for example, stick to starting hands with three cards of 8 or less – if that game isn’t your strength.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that it’s tough to go back to any one game once you start playing mixed games. You’ll miss the mental challenge and fun that comes from this type of poker.

Jennifer Harman

* World Series of Poker and WSOP are trademarks of Harrah’s License Company, LLC ("Harrah’s"). Harrah’s does not sponsor or endorse, and is not associated or affiliates with, The Hendon Mob Ltd. or its products, services, promotions or tournaments.