SCOOP: By George! Danzer outlasts, outwits and outplays in Event 4-Medium

scoop2009_th.gifI don't remember the first time I heard about Badugi. I suspect it was in a home game, one of those "dealer's choice" affairs that often devolve into all kinds of silliness. At the time it seemed like someone had taken elements from each of his favorite poker games and combined them into the Frankenstein monster of poker. Four cards like in Omaha? OK. Three draws like in triple draw? Sure. Eight-handed like stud? Fine. Make the lowest hand (straights don't count) like in razz? Still got me. But what's this business about four different suits?

Yes, badugi is the game where not only do you want to make the lowest possible hand (A-2-3-4) but you also want to make the most number of suits in your hand. A four-suited hand (called a badugi, from whence the game takes its name) beats any three-suited hand, no matter the ranks. If you hold T♣ J♥ Q♠ K♦ and your opponent hold A♣ 2♣ 3♥ 4♦, you win. You have a four-card hand against his three-card hand. But a three-suited A♥ 4♣ 6♠ 9♠ (a 6-4-A) would beat a three-suited A♦ 3♦ 6♥ 7♣ (a 7-6-A). Clear as mud, right?

In the beginning

This is the game that 363 people registered to play today in SCOOP Event #4-Medium, $162 Badugi. The $50,000 guarantee that PokerStars made for the tournament seemed ambitious. Badugi, after all, is a game that even some hardened poker veterans have never played. But the prize pool of $54,450 eclipsed the guarantee with plenty of room to spare and ensured that one of the 56 money finishers would end the night more than $10,000 richer.

Team PokerStars made a strong showing in this unique game. 15 Team members registered. Juan Maceiras (45th) and Andre Akkari (31st) both put on respectable showings and were rewarded with some cash. But neither man could compare to George Danzer or Andrew "Kid Nebraska" Goetsch, both of whom made the eight-handed final table.

Event 4-Medium final table.JPG

With limits at 7,000 and 14,000 to start the final table, the chip counts were:

Seat 1: Kid Nebraska (195,957 in chips)
Seat 2: 7PRS (104,246 in chips)
Seat 3: Vingtcent (186,572 in chips)
Seat 4: biurtyj (312,112 in chips)
Seat 5: laptitefille (175,800 in chips)
Seat 6: Dr dakon (263,400 in chips)
Seat 7: GeorgeDanzer (491,787 in chips)
Seat 8: MintTrav (85,126 in chips)

Danzer was supposed to host the final table. As the chip leader, he clearly was in no position to do that. Team Pro Richard Toth graciously agreed to take over those duties, engaging the players in some pleasantries at the start of the final table.

"Great playing with you in this one Richard."said Goetsch.
"Andy, good to see you still in the hunt!" Toth replied.
"I am hunting. But with this damn badugi I never know what to hunt for."

Kid Escape Artist

Goetsch displayed master escape artist powers throughout the tournament. They were immediately put to the test when he was crippled by Danzer in the early going at the final table. The action was capped before the first draw, with both players standing pat. Danzer led out, then called Goetsch's raise. Danzer was pat again on the second draw, inducing Goetsch to break his hand and draw one. Danzer used that opening to fire another bet that Goetsch called. The action was the same on the third draw, with Danzer pat and Goetsch taking one. This time Goetsch folded to Danzer's bet, tumbling all the way to 40,957 in chips.

Goetsch was all in shortly thereafter against Dr dakon. Both players went pat, pat on the second and third draws, but Goetsch's 8-badugi was the winner against Dr dakon's queen-badugi. "Where's my heart medication please," Goetsch said after winning the hand.

"That's about the 15th time you've been on the edge tonight," MintTrav acknowledged.
"16, but who's counting," replied Goetsch.

Dr dakon drags it out

It was at this point in the final table that Vingtcent first acknowledged something which surely was on most of the final nine's minds: Dr dakon was acting quickly when he had a hand he wanted to play, but otherwise letting himself time out on hands he would fold.

"dakon, you know there's a fold button, right? You don't have to wait 12 seconds every time." Vingtcent said.

laptitefile also chimed in. "dakon, could you please respect us and stop doing this?" Dr dakon made no response as the nine continued to play. MintTrav was soon crippled by Vingtcent when Vingtcent made a gutsy river call with a three-card 3-2-A, T♠ 3♦ 2♥ A♠, against MintTrav, who had led every street and was pat on the third draw. MintTrav showed down a three-card 8-6-A, 8♥ 6♦ 3♣ A♣.

After the hand, Vingtcent started haranguing Dr dakon some more. "dakon must be a bot," he said. "Being this consistently annoying makes no sense for a human being."
"You are lucky. It makes 3 hours I've had this guy on my table," said laptitefile.
"I guess he can't really be penalized for this?"
"I don't know."
"I mean, he's ruining all this fun," said Vingtcent. "Well, part of it. Not all of it. I'm still enjoying myself."

As play continued, biurtyj also began to allow himself to be timed out when he wanted to fold.
"Oh noes now there's two of them!" said Vingtcent.
7PRS had been silent at the final table but chose that point to speak up. "Ok I think I am going to start doing this too."

Danzer tried to find the humor in the situation. "Poor richard, this really is an amazing bunch to host, and the excitement over the big money," he said. "I am watching the full monty. amazing."
Goetsch asked, "I am in it. How does my bum look?"

7PRS, perhaps trying to get some intention, repeated his intention to start timing down. Danzer asked him not to. "Pls 7PRS. Doing it on purpose just sucks."

Vingtcent pleaded his case with the two Team PokerStars members at the table. " Hey george or Nebraska is there anything to do here? This is simply ridiculous."

Goetsch gave the best advice. "The thing to do is not what you are doing it. Just forget about it."

Players start to bust

During all of this chit-chat, the table was still playing hands, albeit at a slow place. MintTrav, down to 33,000 chips, made a stand in the big blind after biurtyj raised. They each drew one card on all three draws, with biurtyj's king-badugi K♠ 7♥ 4♦ 3♣ good enough against MintTrav's 3-card Q♥ J♠ 5♥ 3♦.

Danzer began to open his lead by taking a big pot off 7PRS:

RSS readers click through to see replay

The players continued to pass chips around the final table, without ever being able to deal a knockout blow. Goetsch apparently made what VIngtcent described as the "sickest flat ever," when Vingtcent drew one on the last draw against Goetsch's pat hand, then check-raised Goetsch's bet. Goetsch called with a hand we didn't see, but it must have been very strong (but second best) against Vingtcent's 6-badugi, A♣ 6♥ 3♠ 2♦.

"Kid is too good for us. should be playing the high stakes one, not the middle," said Danzer.

The short-stacked 7PRS finally knuckled under, sent to the rail by Dr dakon. 7PRS drew one the whole way against Dr dakon's pat hand but was unable to draw to better than a three-card 7♥ 5♠ 2♠ A♣. Dr dakon had been dealt an 8-badugi, 8♥ 7♦ 2♣ A♠, ending 7PRS's day in 7th place.

laptitefile may wonder what he had to do to shake Vingtcent in the hand that ended laptitefile's tournament. laptitefile 3-bet pre-draw, then bet after the first draw and moved all in after the second draw. Vingtcent called each time, drawing 2, then 2, then 1 while laptitefile drew 1 on each street. Each player had a three-card hand at showdown, but Vingtcent's 5♣ 3♥ 3♦ A♠ was victorious over laptitefile's T♠ 7♣ 2♠ A♥.

Escape artist no more

Goetsch was scraping and grinding, struggling to stay alive. He had to be surprised by this triple up. When you have a queen-badugi three ways to showdown, you probably don't expect to win:

RSS readers click through to see replay

That, however, would stretch Goetsch's escape powers to their limit. Danzer took him out in fifth place a short time later in a three-way pot played also with Vingtcent. When Danzer rapped pat after the third draw, Goetsch, already all in, tanked for about 90 seconds before drawing one card. It seems he was drawing dead, as he finished with a three-card 9♦ 4♥ 2♥ A♠ against Danzer's 7-badugi, 7♠ 5♥ 4♦ A♣.

Losing that pot also hurt VIngtcent, who had played all the way to the river. He was all in before the first draw against Danzer a few hands later. Vingtcent made a king-badugi after the first draw, K♣ 6♥ 4♠ A♦, and decided to stick with it against the drawing Danzer. On the final draw, however, Danzer drew one and made a 7-badugi, 7♠ 5♣ 4♦ A♥. Vingtcent had complained about how tired he was; Danzer gave him the opportunity to get some rest.

The real struggle begins

With three players remaining and limits at 16,000 and 32,00, Danzer had the lead with 932,490 chips, about half the chips in play. Dr dakon chose that moment to "wake up" and start folding his hand rather than allowing himself to time out.

What followed from there can only be described as an epic three-way battle. None of Danzer, Dr dakon and biurtyj could seem to get a rhythm or rush of cards to make a significant change in the counts. Biurtyj flirted with the chip lead a few times, but each time Danzer was able to re-group and re-take the chip lead within a few hands.

Sooner or later something or someone had to give. It turned out to be Dr dakon. He ran into Danzer's 7-badugi, 7♠ 4♣ 3♦ A♥, in a pot worth ten big bets. Losing that pot dropped Dr dakon deep in the counts to about 130,000. He was out third a few hands later after making a stand with a pat jack-badugi J♣ 9♦ 4♥ A♠. Danzer drew one on the first draw and again on the second draw to made an 8-badugi, 8♠ 6♥ 4♦ 2♣. Dr dakon was retired in third place.

End-to-end action

That left Danzer, the Team PokerStars Pro, to battle it out for the title against biurtyj. Danzer started with a roughly 5-to-1 chip lead, but biurtyj had no intention of rolling over. Danzer had biurtyj all in three times in the early portions of the heads-up battle, but each time biurtyj made a badugi against Danzer's three-card hand to stay alive. Armed with those chips, biurtyj began a relentless assault on Danzer's stack, eventually reversing the chip positions. The key hand occurred when both players were pat after the first draw. biurtyj showed down a 7-badugi, 7♠ 5♦ 4♣ A♥ against a hand that Danzer mucked. Danzer, previously the 5-to-1 chip favorite, found himself as the 4-to-1 chip dog.

Danzer was the one who had to survive. He re-grouped, re-built, and slowly climbed his way out of the hole. He eventually leveled the match, then re-took the lead by making a ten-badugi against biurtyj's queen-badugi. The pots were all small, but they all seemed to be going to Danzer.

Danzer made what was likely the call of the match holding only a three-card hand to re-claim his 5-to-1 chip lead. Danzer raised pre-draw and biurtyj called. Both players drew two. biurtyj then led out and Danzer called. Both players drew one, with biurtyj firing another bet. Again Danzer called.

On the third draw, biurtyj rapped pat. This gave Danzer a decision. He chose to draw one more time, throwing away one card. Immediately biurtyj fired a bet. Danzer, holding the three-card 4♠ 3♣ 3♥ A♣, tanked but eventually made the correct decision to call against biurtyj's 9♦ 7♦ 5♠ 2♥.

That pot gave Danzer the momentum and the chips he needed to close out the match. It finally happened when the extremely short-stacked biurtyj ran a queen-badugi into Danzer's 6-badugi. Danzer finally had all the chips and a very hard-fought and well-earned victory.


SCOOP Event #4-Medium Badugi results:

1st place: GeorgeDanzer ($10,345.70)
2nd place: biurtyj ($7,623.00)
3rd place: Dr dakon ($5,717.25)
4th place: Vingtcent ($4,083.75)
5th place: Andrew "Kid Nebraska" Goetsch ($2,722.50)
6th place: laptitefile ($1,905.75)
7th place: 7PRS ($1,361.25)
8th place: MintTrav ($1,089.00)

The first two days of 2010 SCOOP are history, but 13 more remain. All the information about the remaining events and the results of the completed events is at the SCOOP page.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in SCOOP