As you'd expect if you'd talked to him much, Mizrachi was confident despite his lack of experience in the game. "It's a tournament," he said. "You can figure any tournament out."
The Grinder didn't end up cashing in the event, but his statement about being able to figure out a tournament strategy for a game you don't regularly play holds true. Players who don't know a certain game intimately have won bracelets in the past. One that comes to mind is Cliff Josephy, who hadn't played much (if any) Seven-Card Stud before winning the 2005 $1,500 Stud bracelet.
I won't be surprised at all if we see this sort of thing start to happen more often, both at this year's WSOP and in future years. Being able to adjust to new games is going to become more important at the WSOP as the schedule continues to shift.
Recent bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu called the 2006 WSOP schedule the "World Series of Hold'em," and for good reason: 34 of the 44 scheduled bracelet events were in Hold'em, with the remaining 10 spread across a wide variety of games ranging from 2-7 to Razz.
Negreanu's complaint certainly appears to have been addressed this year. Twenty of the 55 scheduled bracelet events are in games other than Hold'em, with another event (which started today) playing half Hold'em, half Omaha. So what does this shift mean in terms of its effects on the poker world?
For starters, the elite players in the poker world have more opportunities to win bracelets than they did two years ago. The shift to mostly No-Limit Hold'em had been a boon to newbies who could learn to play one game particularly well, giving them lots of cheap shots at bracelets and narrowing the gap between themselves and professional players.
Today there are multiple Stud bracelets, multiple Lowball bracelets, and multiple Omaha bracelets - all games which newbies don't often pick up as quickly as the easy-to-learn Hold'em.
Players like Full Tilt pro Mike Matusow, who won the $5,000 Deuce-to-Seven bracelet yesterday despite admittedly not having much experience in the game, are going to benefit both from having the cash to play these generally high-buy-in events and from their status as poker celebrities.
As the Mouth said in his PokerListings.com interview, "Because poker players become celebrities ... it's worth a lot more [for me] than for anyone else to win a bracelet because I'm a well-known name."
The WSOP's schedule shift toward more variety will also mean seeing more players like Mizrachi, Josephy and Matusow picking up unfamiliar games. Given their mastery of other poker variants, as well as their understanding of tournament strategy, it's a sure bet that a good percentage of them will pick up the new game well enough to give them a shot at winning.
And given the smaller fields in Stud, Omaha and lowball events, these players' actual mathematical chances of winning a bracelet are much higher than they are in the 3,000-man donkaments. Those extra shots at bracelets will give a lot of the younger players who have grown up with easy access to different games online the chance to become one of poker's "rock stars," get sponsored, and live the good life.
As for everyone else who doesn't want to play Razz or Triple Draw, they'll still have No-Limit Hold'em available to play almost every day. After all, the two-hole-card game is the backbone of the modern poker boom and that alone means it's not going anywhere. You'll just have to beat 3,000 players to win a bracelet, whereas everyone else has to outlast 500 or fewer.