Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I think you might have forgotten someone

The May, 2010, issue of Poker Pro magazine has an article by Chad Holloway (about whom I know nothing), listing who he thinks would make the best picks for a fantasy poker team in deuce-to-seven events at the World Series of Poker.

I wasn't really interested in reading the article. I basically knew who had to be in the number one slot: Billy Baxter. So I flipped the page to get to the end of the list (being presented in Lettermanesque reverse order), and was mighty surprised to find that he had David Grey as his top pick. So I scanned back through the other names to see where he might have ranked Baxter. I was dumbfounded: he hadn't made the cut at all.

A digression for a moment, if I may. An event in one of the first couple of seasons of the World Poker Tour had Chau Giang at the final table. I had never heard of him before. Mike Sexton had nothing but praise for him during the player introductions. He said something like this: "People might disagree on who the best five poker players in the world are, but if you make any list of the top five and don't include Chau Giang on it, you have made a mistake."

Well, let me steal that sentiment for current purposes: If you make a list of the top ten deuce-to-seven players, and it doesn't include Billy Baxter, you have made a mistake. Period. It's like listing the best chess players without mentioning Gary Kasparov, or best superheros and omitting Superman.

Baxter has won seven--SEVEN!--World Series of Poker bracelets, every single one of them in lowball events, including five--FIVE!--in deuce-to-seven. (The others were in razz and ace-to-five lowball.) What record does Mr. Holloway think even comes close to that?

In addition to the wins, Baxter has made eight other WSOP final-table appearances, all of them in lowball events, including five in deuce-to-seven.

I mean, just look at the list of his major tournament cashes, here. Go ahead--scan down the list (it will take some scrolling) and see how many single-digit finishes you find in deuce-to-seven and other lowball events. Without even trying to do a comprehensive check, I'd bet $100 that nobody else in history has a record of cashes or final tables in these forms of poker that can top Baxter's.

Do we really need to remind anyone that he is in the Poker Hall of Fame in large measure because of his phenomenal, unparalleled, decades-long dominance of lowball poker?

When I read the Poker Pro article in a little more detail (once I had decided to rant here about it, I thought I should probably read it first--good idea, dontcha think?), I learned why Baxter got omitted. The author's methodology was just to use WSOP record books from 2005-2009. Though Baxter had a deuce-to-seven final table as recently as 2008, his last bracelet was in 2002. Hence, he is off of Mr. Holloway's radar screen.

But if you think that on that basis he should be left out of a betting pool for the events that he has dominated like no other player, well, I think you're a fool. If the event is lowball, and Baxter is in the field, only bet against him if you don't like money. It's really that simple.

1 comment:

Greylocks said...

Google is your friend.

This page has a bio on Chad Holloway (scroll down).

Doesn't sound like the sort of experience that would lead to having an informed opinion on who the best lowball players are.

If you don't play regularly in the high-stakes Mississippi and SoCal 2-7 games, you're just not going to know.

Plus, the guy's young. If he graduated from college in 2007 he's probably not even 25 yet.