Gimmick Mixed Game or New Way to Play?

by , Aug 31, 2012 | 1:00 pm

So you’ve played hold’em, Omaha, 7-card stud, razz, badugi, badaci, baduci, razz-dugi, 2-7 triple draw, Chinese poker, Taiwanese poker, Indian poker and every hi-lo variant there is.

What’s next?

In a new game being spread at the Palms, using three 7s in his hand,  Bruce Paul turned quads and paused the action after scooping a big pot.

“That’s called a sniper,” he informed all of us newbies at the table about holding three-of-a-kind.

Paul, the 58-year-old Californian who created the game, hopes his 2-11 poker is the next big thing to captivate the card playing world. It’s called 2-11 (“two-eleven”) because of the 2-card flop, the 1-card turn and 1-card river.

Players get 4 hole cards and can use 2 or 3 from their hand and 2 or 3 from the board to make the best 5-card hand. Betting was 2/4 fixed limit, but could easily be played NL or PL.

Paul says he thought up 2-11 in 2005, and has spent much of his time since then trying to get the patent-pending game spread in card rooms and teaching it to friends.

(We played hi-only, but there’s supposedly a hi-lo version and a “pineapple” version, where you get 5 cards and discard one post flop.)

That’s not a misdeal. That’s the 2-card flop in 211 Poker, a new Omaha-style game being spread at The Palms.

On the next hand Paul explained to the lady to his right that the game was essentially about reading people.

Good luck getting a read. The best I can tell after a few hands is that it’s like a blend of Texas hold’em, Omaha and chaos.

“It’s kind of hard to read when you’ve got the sniper,” John, the dealer, quipped.

The 4th card is the river. Can you figure out the best possible hole cards for this board? Or the biggest cooler?

Paul has received approval from Nevada and California state gaming commissions. The game has been played at The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles.

Somehow, he convinced Cantor Gaming to host the game in Vegas. Paul said they approved a 120-day trial period. And yet, there’s no word on whether the Pokerati game will ever return.

On Wednesday, Bobby Griffith, the poker room manager at The Palms, tweeted: “Attn Friends… Trying out a new game 2-11 Poker tonight at Palms. We will have all limits avail. Need ur support! 7pm.”

I immediately wondered what the hell he was talking about and did some cursory research.

“Come to the Palms and play this weird ass game,” Andrew Neeme implored.

A friend who’s a mixed-game specialist turned down an offer to join us because he thought the game was “gimmicky.”

So I plopped $80 on the table, instantly flopped a huge draw that got bigger on the turn, but whiffed the river. Paul scooped the pot.

“You’re the guy who invented this game?” I asked him.



“I don’t know. It just came to me one day.”

There are only 4 community cards, he said, because “the math says that’s the best way to play the game.”

Using 5 community cards along with 3 from the hole would get simply ridiculous.

Even with a 2-card flop, one could hit anything from a straight to a royal. Which makes it incredibly difficult to put someone on a hand.

“It’s funny to see the flop,” Griffith said as he watched the action. “It looks broken.”

It was clear that no one at the table had worked out optimal 2-11 strategy, Paul having been the only one with previous experience in the game.

In one hand, he open limped the cutoff, which seemed wrong. But he could have just been playing friendly, to keep people interested in the game.

“I’ve never been a real good poker player,” he said. “I just enjoy sitting at the table.”

The kid in the 2 seat raised most of the hands he played — and he didn’t like folding.

“Oh, I’m starting to love this game,” he said. “I feel like I learned so much today. If I got a good hand, I’m raising it.”

He pulled 4 cards up to his eyeballs: “Alright, this isn’t a good one, but I’m calling it.”

Of course.

What could you possibly learn by folding?

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