EPT12 Barcelona: Mixing it up with Adam Owen

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It has been a great summer for Owen

"He called me the worst fu@#ing player he'd ever seen."

When you get that kind of 'respect' from Phil Hellmuth you know you've made it. The Poker Brat's outburst came during Day 2 of the 2015 WSOP $10,000 Razz Championship event and was directed at 22-year-old Englishman Adam Owen. They'd see a lot more of each other over the next 24 hours as Owen went on to finish third for $104,914 whilst Hellumth would defeat Mike Gorodinsky heads-up to win his 14th bracelet.

It would be the springboard to a breakout summer for Owen who would also finish seventh in the $10,000 2-7 NL Single Draw event - which is regarded as one of the toughest events on the schedule - and he'd follow that up with a 10th place finish in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. He cashed a couple of hold'em events too but the main game has never been Owen's game of choice. "Hold'em is my least favourite game, I've put a decent amount of work into it but everyone is so good at hold'em," he says during a break in play on Day 2 of the EPT12 Barcelona Main Event.

And it's not like Owen was introduced to poker via hold'em and then transitioned away. "The very first game I played was Five-Card Draw, I was on a ski trip and I made a flush, which I didn't know about and I won some money and left! I thought it was amazing and fun and started watching poker on TV. My first online cash actually came in a badugi freeroll! I found these other games along with trying to learn hold'em. So It's always been other games from the start."

You can imagine Owen having to swim against the tide of players who gravitate to hold'em due to its 'minute to learn' mantra but luckily Owen had some kindred spirits. "When we were in sixth form a few friends and I used to carry around a big jar of pennies and play 4p/8p H.O.R.S.E, which was great. I found 2-7 Single Draw in my late teens and played heads-up sit and gos in that and learnt it really well. I then just learnt the games one by one really."

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Owen's gone from playing for pennies to the EPT

Unlike in hold'em where there are numerous resources full of learning materials - like Poker School Online - Owen had to do much of the learning of the other games on his own. "There is stuff out there but in general some of the strategy is hush hush, there's basic information out there in books and videos but not to the depth you see with hold'em. That game is at such an advanced stage that a beginning player could become so advanced within a year and be better than a very good player from a few years ago for example. I would definitely encourage people to try mixed games, if you spend a week or a month studying a game that isn't hold'em you'd be way more competitive in that game than in hold'em."

At this point you're probably thinking, 'but limit games are boring and take ages' Owen, naturally, thinks differently. "Razz is amazingly fun to play live, I can't stress that enough," he says. "It's so quick, in hold'em there's a tanking epidemic. Players will pause for 30 seconds pre-flop before they pick up chips. Razz and fixed limit games in general are just so quick. People fold properly, they turn their up card over and flick their cards in. You probably play two or three times as many hands an hour. My favourite game is probably NL 2-7 Single Draw but there's not much action online right now. Most of my volume comes in Razz, some Badugi and 8-game."

The young Englishman not only mixes up what games he plays but also the type: "I play both cash and tournaments online. I play all the tournaments in the 'other games' that there are. There aren't many, there are weeklies and they've also added $27 daily tournaments too, which is a bit small but I still play them a decent amount. Most of my volume is in cash games, I play up to $30/$60 limit. There's still action, 8-game is running at most stakes and Razz is quite popular. I would encourage people to at least try other games, most people who do get hooked and don't want to go back to hold'em. Obviously in hold'em you can win much more money, but purely for fun and to be competitive instantly I'd recommend mixed games."

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Owen makes this face when 'forced' to play hold'em

Owen has also been getting in plenty of volume in the live arena at EPT stops. He's already finished second in the €5,000 Razz event here in Barcelona and says that's ensured it's a profitable trip for him. His first final table on the EPT came at EPT11 London in October 2014 when he finished fourth in the £1,000 8-Game Championship and it's the increased number of mixed game events that keep Owen and others like him coming back to the EPT. "This is the first time I've played the Main Event and I did qualify online. I wouldn't be here if they didn't have the mixed games on the schedule and there's s a few guys like that, he states. "To the EPT guys who are considering expanding the mixed schedule, which they're continuing to do, then you're getting our custom which you wouldn't otherwise have. Whilst I'm ok at hold'em I wouldn't travel just to play it. I'd like to see more draw events on the schedule and there's going to be a mixed draw event in Malta which I'm very excited about. A €1k or €5k single-draw event would be awesome and all these events are really bringing the EPT up to WSOP standards in terms of the variety of games they offer."

Let's get back to Owen's WSOP for a moment, he says that his best game is probably 2-7 NL Single Draw and he set about proving that when he was one of only 77 players who entered the $10,000 Championship event. "The standard was very good, there were a few things I picked up on from the non-specialists in that game. But it was full of players like Erik Seidel, Dan Smith, Phil Galfond and Eli Elezra, all these heroes who play that game really well. It's poker in a nutshell really, is this guy bluffing?"

But the event that sticks out for him is the $10,000 Razz event in which he finished third. "It was an amazing experience playing on the main stage with all these people that I hero worshipped. All those guys on that final table were so tough, Shaun Deeb is someone I respect immensely, Stephen Chidwick, Mike Gorodinsky and Brandon Shack-Harris is probably the best Razz player ever to me. It was great."

And just to show that Hellmuth isn't all bad Owen has an addendum to his encounter. "Getting berated by him was definitely a life goal. He is a nice guy actually, although he did a bit more of that on the final table he apologised afterwards and offered to buy me two bottles of champagne!"

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Champagne, a fair trade for an insult?

You can follow all the action from the various tournament floors on PokerStars Blog. The Main Event action will be on the Main Event page. And all the details from the side events can be found here.

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Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour