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Top-10 non-Hold'em tournaments Vin wants to try

19 April 2010

By Vin Narayanan

At a recent home game, I was introduced to Baduci, a split-pot five-card triple draw game where the best 2-7 hand wins half the pot, and the best Badugi hand wins the other half. An instant hit, the game was quickly bastardized to create "Stugi" (7-Card Stud with half the pot going to the best Badugi hand) and "Omadugi" (Omaha High with half the pot going to the best Badugi hand). I still like Baduci the best out of three. But the whole experience was great reminder how refreshing it is to play games other than Hold'em, and that it's okay to create new games, just like we did when we were kids, just to try them out.

With that in mind, here are 10 poker tournaments I'd like try out, just because they seem like they're fun.

10. Pairs
The Foxwoods Poker Classic had a lot of success with the Limit Hold'em/Omaha pairs competition, and I have to admit, I'd like to try it out next year. The basic premise here is you're working with a partner, and you're sharing one chip stack and one seat. The game switches each level between Limit Hold'em and Omaha. Let's say the tournament begins with Limit Hold'em. Only one of you will play the Limit Hold'em level. When the level changes, so does the game, and your partner takes over the seat to play the Omaha level. When the third level begins, it will be back to the first player and Limit Hold'em. So pick your teammate with caution. You might not even be at the table when you're eliminated from the tournament.

9. No-limit 2-7
I'm a big fan of 2-7 Triple Draw. I enjoy lowball as a general rule. And I love draw games. But as a limit game, 2-7 Triple Draw can't compete against the drama of no-limit. No-Limit 2-7 solves those issues. It's a single draw game, so it isn't as a crazy as triple draw. But it still has the one draw, and when you combine it with a no-limit betting strategy, you get a really intriguing game.

8. Chinese Poker
This would be an intriguing tournament to stage and play. From a staging standpoint, you can't have more than four players at a table (Check out #4 here for the rules). And play could take some time. Aaron Todd, Casino City's resident Chinese Poker expert, suggests players should start out with the same number of points (chips) and that at each level, the number of points you win per hand increases, thereby increasing the importance of each hand. From a strategy standpoint, Chinese Poker is absolutely fascinating. If you're running out of points, do you go for the high-risk, high-reward setting of hands? Or can you grind it out? I don't know. But I'd like to try.

7. Pot-limit Omaha High-Low
The beauty of this game is it differs from Hold'em and Omaha enough that it really requires a different strategy. And the pot-limit structure allows for plenty of play early in the hand while leaving room for big bets to really make a difference later on. This is the game of choice among my friends in our ring game, and I'd like to play it in a tournament setting.

6. Razz
I'm in the minority when I say "I love Razz." But I do love it. Between shooting for the lowest hand and reading all of the available information out there (remember, this is a stud), this is a great game for people who love game theory. And depending on who you ask, it's also a great game for luck boxes.

5. Stud High-Low
This is the last stud entry on this list. The beauty of Stud High-Low is that even though there is great deal of information on the board, it's easy to hide hands. So that person you thought was going low could have three deuces and no low. In this game, you have to be able to play the person and the board. And it's not easy.

4. Crazy Pineapple Ocean
This game is essentially Hold'em on HGH. Players are dealt four cards apiece. Then a flop is dealt, and players have to discard one card. Players discard a second card after the turn, and play the rest of the game like Hold'em, with one exception. After players bet on the river, an additional "ocean" card is turned over. The extra card is a real wildcard in this situation. All of sudden drawing hands are more powerful, and anything that keeps what is essentially Hold'em interesting is a good thing.

3. Badugi
Until I played Baduci, Badugi was my favorite lowball game. Badugi is fairly simple. Four cards are dealt. There are three draws. And the best four-card lowball rainbow hand wins. That's it. It's fun. It's addictive. And it would make an amazing tournament.

2. Baduci
As I said in the introduction, Baduci recently unseated Badugi as my favorite lowball game. It plays like 2-7 triple draw, only the pot is split between the best 2-7 hand and the best Badugi hand. Just think about it for a minute. Yep, I can see you nodding now. This game is awesome, and a Baduci tournament would be hilarious.

1. The crazy mixed-game
The Poker Player's Championship at this year's World Series of Poker would be a lot of fun to play at smaller stakes (if anyone is willing to stake me for to the $50K event, I'm listening). The tournament consists of Limit Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Low, Razz, Stud, Stud High-Low, No-Limit Hold'em, Pot-Limit Omaha and 2-7 Triple Draw. The game is changed each orbit around the table. At the WSOP, they'll be playing a No-Limit Hold'em only final tournament. I'd opt to keep playing all of the games at my final table, but hey, I'm not televising it on ESPN. I'm going to keep trying to get my friends to play this tournament. It looks like too much fun to pass up.
Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.