At Hollywood Park a couple weeks ago, I struck up a conversation with one of Brigid's professors. I recognized him as the one who organized the Tom Ferguson Tournament. In the ensuing email exchange, he invited me to join an online poker discussion group he's in. My impression is that most of the other members (there are over twenty, I think, but most hardly ever post) are not pros, but the guy who runs it is. The other players seem knowledgeable and thoughtful, too. It seems several of them know each other through the chess circuit, and there's at least one professional chess player. My impression is that it is a pretty impressive and worthwhile group. Anyway, while scanning the archives, I saw that they had tried to start up a HORSE game back in March but couldn't get enough people interested. I thought HORSE sounded like a good idea, so I commented that I'd be interested in playing; on Monday, about ten of us went to Brigid's professor's house to play 3-6 limit HORSE (limit Holdem, Omaha hi-low, Razz, Seven card stud, and stud hi-low Eight or better).
The group was split into two games. I think the other table was playing .50-1 HORSE. At my table was Brigid, two pros (including Danyul, who runs the group and has a poker blog of his own), and two other players who I don't think were pros but were also good players. Later on one of them left and Brigid's professor joined us.
Some of these games I hadn't played since that mixed game at the Wynn a year and a half ago. In that game we had played deuce to seven triple draw instead of stud, but other than that it was the same. Other than calling with a Q-high low hand in Stud Eight or Better, I think I did reasonably well. In case you're unfamiliar with Stud Eight or Better, half the pot goes to the low hand, but only if there is five card low to an 8. So my Q-high wasn't even eligible for the low there. My excuse is that I used to play this same game a lot in high school, except that there was no restriction on how low the low hand had to be. Also, in the version we played in high school we had to declare if we were going for the high, low, or both, and then we bet for a sixth time. A better game in my opinion, although a bit gimmicky. Actually, I like all those crazy games like Baseball and Follow the Queen. They make you think on your feet strategically because nobody ever bothers to actually analyze those games. It makes for a fun battle of wits.
The other pro at my table was a Swedish guy who is working on poker game theory with Tom Ferguson at UCLA. It turns out he was almost certainly the most accomplished player at the table. In Sweden, he tells me, the tax code requires that they report their winnings on every pot that they win! I keep track of my day-to-day net winnings, but on any given day I play hundreds, maybe thousands of hands. I can't imagine how tedious it might be to actually keep track of such a thing. I guess if you play online though you can have a program to track it automatically for you.
The game was considered a great success, and there's talk of organizing for another session, possibly even on a weekly basis. I'm going to argue for some 2-7 triple draw.