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Robbie & Martin Smith Chat About The Festival Series Mixed Games

Robbie & Martin Smith Chat About The Festival Series Mixed Games

The Festival Series Tallinn is ready for action at Olympic Park Casino and the Hilton Tallinn Park from June 27 to July 3 with the first event kicking off at 4 p.m. today with the two-day €250 Sviten Special Event.

While there are plenty of hold’em events on the schedule including the festival’s highlight in The Festival Series Tallinn €550 Main Event.

While this will be attractive enough for most players, mixed game enthusiasts are excited about the amount of variety in the near dozen mixed game events throughout the schedule.

Mixed Game Event Schedule

At least one mixed game event will take place every day of the week-long The Festival Series Tallinn with formats including Sviten Special, Pot-Limit Omaha, Open Face Chinese, and 6+ Hold’em. There are also pure mixed game events including H.O.R.S.E. and 8-Game where players can test their skills across multiple poker formats.

The Festival Series interviewed Risto Ponnio last week about the OFC events which you can read more about here. In addition, Sviten Special founder Anders “Bengan” Bengtsson shared his excitement about the two-day Sviten Special event.

“OFC is always in my program for any festival I attend in Tallinn where it is on the schedule,” Pönniö shared with The Festival Series. “I am thrilled that The Festival Series included two events on the schedule. I will definitely play the smaller event on Friday, and who knows, if things go well may also hop into the High Roller on Sunday.”

“I like it. I love it. I love it so much!” Bengan shared with us about the two-day Sviten Special Event at The Festival Series Tallinn. “Every time there’s a Sviten event at any festival, I get so excited. It's so much fun because even though I know I might not be the inventor of everything, I know. I am sort of the founder of making Sviten Special popular. And everyone else says I'm the founder in Sweden at least. So, it's a little bit close to my heart, and now, I'm really, really excited. I love it so much!”

June 2716:001Sviten Special Day 1€2506 lvls30,00030 mins
June 2813:0098-Game€1156 lvls10,00020 mins
June 2817:0010PLO Masters€2506 lvls20,00020 mins
June 2819:001Sviten Special Day 2/FTClosedClosed  
June 2917:0015PLO High Roller Day 1€1,0504 lvls30,00030 mins
June 3013:0020H.O.R.S.E. €2506 lvls25,00030 mins
June 3013:0015PLO High Roller Final Day - reserve slotClosedClosed  
June 3017:0021Half ´n Half  (Texas & PLO, 1 level each)€1154 lvls20,00020 mins
July 117:0023Open Face Chinese €3306 lvls20,00025 mins
July 220:0032PLO Turbo€1154 lvls20,00020 mins
July 312:0035OFC HR€1,0506 lvls30,00025 mins
July 313:0036Texas Shortdeck/ 6+ Hold´em€1154 lvls20,00020 mins
Mixed Game Event Schedule

Our friend in CardPlayer Lifestyle founder Robbie Strazynski won’t be able to make it to Tallinn but we hope to see him on a later trip. The main reason he can’t attend as he just hosted the successful Mixed Game Festival at the Resorts World Poker Room earlier in the month. Sviten Special: A European Version of Drawmaha author Martin Smith won the grand prize in that event and was also disappointed that he can’t attend The Festival Series Tallinn as he is just traveling back from Las Vegas to his home in Malta.

We sat down with both Stazynski and Smith to learn more about their passion for mixed games and their recent experiences.

Why do you love mixed game tournaments? What do you think about The Festival Series Tallinn schedule and what would you consider playing if attending The Festival Series Tallinn? 

Robbie Strazynski
Robbie Strazynski

Robbie Strazynski: “It's wonderful that Texas Hold'em is more popular than ever before, but that also means that because so many people play that game, many more people already have it figured out. Mixed games, by contrast, are anything but “solved”. There are so many more variations, permutations, and nuances to non-Hold'em games, and I feel that to truly master poker you need to exhibit proficiency at all different types of poker variants. 

So great to see that The Festival Series Tallinn is actively promoting mixed game poker tournaments. It especially brings me joy to see mixed games being promoted outside of the United States as well. Poker is a global game, and all forms and variants of poker ought to be played in poker rooms around the world. 

Looking at the series’ schedule, the specific events that caught my eye are the 8-game mix and the H.O.R.S.E. tournaments, but of course, I’m also a big fan of those Cash Game Festival challenges!”

Martin Smith
Martin Smith

Martin Smith: “The Festival schedule has some really interesting mixed game options. I would obviously play Event #1: Sviten Special. If I don’t make Day 2 I would then jump into the 8-game event. On Wednesday, I would probably try to just play cash games, but the Texas PKO (#14) might draw me in. The next day, the HORSE, event #20 excites me as it is totally limit poker, which is so rare to find in Europe. Onto Friday, I love Open Face Chinese, that would be my next choice. Saturday I might play cash or perhaps the PLO turbo. Sunday I would stick to cash unless I could find a backer for the OFC high roller!”

What is your favorite mixed game and why (saying 8-game is fine as well, etc.)? What kind of mixed game tournaments would you like to see more of? 

Robbie Stazynski: “It’s hard for me to pick one particular mixed game variant, but if it were up to me, I’d love to play in a 7-game mix of: 2-7 triple draw, 7 card stud hi-lo, badugi, 7 card stud, drawmaha/Sviten Special, A-5 lowball triple draw, and badeucey. Any tournaments featuring any of those poker variants would be great!”

Martin Smith: “My favorite mixed game is dealer’s choice. I would love to see a tournament with as wide a range of games to play as possible. Even stuff like razzdeucy, highdugi drawmaha, to get the brain switching back and forth! Maybe play 6 hands of each game before the next person chooses.”

How was the Mixed Game Festival? What were some of the highlights? What are some of the things that you would imagine as a crossover to The Festival Series and what types of games would you like to see The Festival Series add in the future if any? 

Robbie Stazynski: “Generally speaking, there is a bit of a “chicken and egg issue” with regard to mixed games. People don't play them because they aren't offered, but if they were offered more often, I believe more people would play them. Putting on the Cardplayer Lifestyle Mixed Game Festival was my way of trying to get these games offered at the lowest possible stakes so that people could give them a try. 

Over the course of five days in mid-June, we had about 200 individual players join us at Resorts World Las Vegas, for a total of about 1,200 played hours of mixed games. 

A fun highlight is that our grand prize was won by Martin Smith, who journeyed all the way from Malta to participate. 

I’ve only played mixed games outside of the U.S. one time, in Malta, and it was a lovely experience. Typically, mixed games tend to be played pot-limit outside of the U.S., rather than fixed-limit. I understand that – it’s because unfortunately, cash game rake is significantly higher outside of the U.S. 

I like that the Festival Series isn’t afraid to experiment, and try new things… for example, bringing in those blackjack and roulette tournament ideas, or hosting a Sviten Special tournament. I’ve only hosted two Mixed Game Festivals thus far, but I have a similar entrepreneurial spirit of trying new things, and I look to events like the Festival Series Tallinn for inspiration. 

What I would really LOVE to see, on a grander level, is non-U.S. casinos dropping their cash game rake significantly to allow for fixed limit mixed gameplay. Don’t worry, guys – we appreciate you hosting our games and you’ll get your share of the money on the table… you just don’t have to take so much of it each and every hand!

When you give players a great experience of playing for low stakes, not having to worry about getting stung for big money, we’ll be more than happy to keep sitting at your tables for hours on end, even shorthanded, without even thinking what the rake/cost might be. In a nutshell, venues need to be concerned with the “long game” and keeping players coming back for more. They can easily accomplish that by lowering their cash game rake structure. This is an area where they can, and should, follow the lead of their counterpart rooms in the United States.”

Who are the top five mixed game players not playing nosebleed stakes in your world? 

Robbie Stazynski: “Well, after thinking on this one for a bit, I’ll just use this opportunity to give a shout-out to my five faves from my mixed-game home game: Maurice Leibowitz, Rachi Messing, Kenny Gelber, Moe Benoliel, and my Dad, Dr. Josef Strazynski. I love ‘em all (especially my Dad) and have been playing mixed game poker with them for years and years. They’ve all always been super supportive of the work that I do in the poker world, and in my mind, our deep friendship and shared love for poker makes them a solid top 5!”

Martin Smith: “Wouter Schuurbiers is the best player in my world, except for the odd occasion when he has too much gamble in him… Not sure I want to single out any others, I might upset the people I don’t pick!”

The Festival Series is proud to have Martin Smith as a friend as he has helped spread the word of a game we love in Sviten Special. We asked him to share a little more about his project.

Martin Smith: From start to finish, the book took about 2.5 years. It didn’t start as a book project, I just wanted to do some research and number crunching to get better at a game I had fallen massively in love with. At some point I realized I could make this a book… and then the pandemic started and it gave me the free time to finish it off. It’s available only as an ebook right now which you can download here. But later this year I plan to publish the paperback!

Check out The Festival Series blog to get updates on all of the events at The Festival Series Tallinn.