With two levels in the books at the first ever World Series of Poker Dealer's Choice event, PokerNews decided to ask a few pros about their experience with the novel addition to this year's schedule. Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler, David "Bakes" Baker, Justin Young, and John Holley were kind enough to take a few minutes out of their break to share their thoughts. Topics of note included the competency of the dealers — who will need to know the rules and intricacies of no less than 16 poker variants — as well as the strategy involved during the early levels of play, and the pro community's desire to see dealer's choice added to the schedule on a permanent basis.
PokerNews: Has the event met your standards thus far, in terms of dealer competency and flow of the game?
Allen Kessler: Yeah, I mean, I thought it was going to be this crazy thing, and the dealers are actually pretty good. We’ve had a few mistakes by one dealer, but that’s understandable.
David "Bakes" Baker: The dealers are fine, we’ve had good dealers so far, very good actually. A lot better than some other ones I’ve had, so they seem to know what they’re about.
John Holley: I think it’s great, actually, we’ve had very good dealers, every dealer’s been knowledgeable on all the games. It’s been an interesting choice of game selection. I’m a little bit on tilt because somebody showed up to the table with really bad body odor (laughing).
Justin Young: The dealers honestly have been awesome, and the ones that aren’t super confident, are very receptive to, I wouldn’t say criticism, but at least instruction.
PokerNews: What has your personal strategy been thus far?
Allen Kessler: I just picked badacy randomly out of the pack, and all of a sudden three more people in a row picked badacy because they liked the game, which was kind of weird. But my whole strategy is, I’m keeping notes on my iPad on what games people pick, and I’m picking against those games. So if people keep picking like, Omaha hi-low, I won’t pick that. That’s why I picked badacy, because nobody had picked that yet, but once I picked it, it got picked three or four times.
It’s fun, what I do is just go randomly through the pile and pick games that I like. I’m stuck about 300 chips so far, but it’s been interesting. For example, the five-card draw, it doesn’t work in this game because… we tried it one round, and the pots were getting to be like 300 chip pots and that’s it. So I don’t think anybody’s going to pick that again, but the triple-draw games, they play really huge, and the stud games, with the antes, they’re also playing pretty big. No-limit played pretty small, and like I said, five-card draw was actually playing very small. I’m definitely never picking like PLO or no-limit hold’em, because I think my edge is in these draw games, and Omaha hi-low, stud eight-or-better, or even razz or something.
David "Bakes" Baker: We’ve been playing a lot of draw games and that’s been kind of fun. Personally, not much of a strategy going in, but if somebody’s playing a game very poorly, I would definitely look towards picking that. I guess one of my strategies would be to play a lot of draw games, that’s where a lot of the field has just never played before, especially baducy. The game’s that have never been offered at the World Series before, people are just naturally going to be a lot weaker in, so picking those games is definitely good. That’s just where I’m starting, and then feel out the table from there.
John Holley: I’ve just had some ugly spots, I lost two decent pots in PLO where I had aces double-suited, and had to give up after the flop. One of them with a set of aces, I had to give up on the river with a flush and a straight out there. Allen Cunningham picked five-card draw played pot-limit with his two choices, and both times I won in that game. I picked razz once and Omaha eight-or-better. I’ve just tried to pick against the European guy, I didn’t think he would like razz (laughing).
Justin Young: I think we’re all still just having fun right now, but once we get into the middle stages we’ll probably have a little more strategy when it comes down to it. I’m a little short right now, so I’m trying to pick the bigger bet games, no-limits, PLOs, single draws, stuff of that nature. I think with everyone being so deep, everyone’s just going to try and go with their best game.
PokerNews: What has been the reception to this event among the professional community, and would you like to see Dealer's Choice become a mainstay on the WSOP schedule?
Allen Kessler: Yeah, I think it’s a great idea. I wish it was $2,500 though, instead of $1,500. I think you’d basically get the same players but at least you’d have a little more leeway on the chips, and more play. I think if they do it again it should definitely be a $2,500 buy-in.
David "Bakes" Baker: It’s definitely reminiscent of home games that pros play together, or high-stakes cash games. So it’s kind of cool that everyone has a say, and that every table’s going to be different. I’m interested to see some of the dynamics that happen when the tournament gets a lot deeper.
John Holley: I’d love to, yeah... I love it. I played most of these games growing up, you know, and they only game I don’t have much experience in is 2-7 single draw no-limit, but I’ve played a lot of 2-7 triple draw. I play mixed-game cash, that’s what I normally do aside from tournaments.
Justin Young: It’s been pretty flawless up until now, I’m very impressed, and I really hope this event comes back next year.