WSOPE 2010 Debuts with Poker's Hottest Game

Frank Kassela
2010 WSOP Player of the Year Frank Kassela is among Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em's many fans.

The 2010 WSOP Europe began inside London’s Empire Casino Monday with poker’s fastest growing game.

The first Six-Max World Series of Poker bracelet event on this side of the Atlantic drew a respectable 244 players, selling out the tight confines of the Leicester Square casino with alternates filling the empty seats as early gamblers hit the rail often, thinning the field to less than a third of its size in the late going.

But this £2,500 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event sits as just the latest example of the online born-and-raised poker variant’s gaining popularity.

The WSOP’s $1,500 Six-Handed No-Limit event grew from 1,459 runners in 2009 to 1,663 this summer, while the $2,500 jumped from 1,068 to 1,245.

This despite the most of rest of the numbers at the series staying stagnant or dipping.

In fact, even the tamer sounding $2,500 Limit-Hold’em Six-Max saw a bump from 367 to 384.

Much of its popularity comes from a younger generation who grew up on a steady diet of the game online.

But self proclaimed “poker dinosaur”, grandfather and 2010 WSOP Player of the Year Frank Kassela, who made 3rd in the WSOP’s $25k Six-Max this summer, says the game appeals to everybody.

“To me, and in a lot of ways and maybe this is contrary to what a lot of people think, but I think No-Limit Hold’em is one of the more boring poker games out there. If you’re not catching cards and you are not involved in a lot of hands, you may as well take a nap,” he said.

“But six-handed, your hand values change, starting hands change; you have position about half the time. You’re just playing a lot more hands and it’s just a lot more fun.”

2010 November Niner John Racener built a stack in the early going Tuesday and although the 25-year-old Floridian said his poker experience includes a lot more full-ring tournament experience; he loves the up-tempo pace six-handed.

“There are not as many pauses between hands,” he said. “I can loosen up my range and sometimes you don’t even have to look at your hand. Because it’s short-handed, you can just play position. It’s fun stuff.”

Racener believes the gaining popularity of the game is in part due to its allure to cash game players.

“There’s more action and it’s what everyone is playing online these days in the cash games; no one plays full ring anymore,” he said.

“Cash game players, if they’re going to pick a tournament to play, it's going to be the Six-Max event.”

One of the most feared online cash game players on the net, Andrew “luckychewy” Lichtenberger says nothing beats short-handed play and that’s why poker players are flocking to the game.

“The fewer players the better,” he said. “Heads-up is my favorite, followed by Four-Max, which has started coming in on the Internet a little bit now, the way Six-Max did a few years back, and I love Six-Max - There’s a bit more post flop play and people just play more hands.”

But regardless of the reason No-Limit Six-Max is on the rise, Kassela says it’s obvious the trend will continue.

“It’s more interesting,” he said. “There’s a lot more action. I think it tends to favor more skilled players and frankly, you are just more comfortable. There’s more room at the tables; it’s a much more luxurious game to play.

“I’d rather play a six-handed tournament than No-Limit.”

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