One of the most controversial events at the 2021 World Series of Poker concluded on Monday, as DJ Alexander won Event #20: $1,000 GGPoker Flip & Go. It was Alexander’s first career bracelet after coming agonizingly close as the runner up in the 2017 Millionaire Maker. For this title, Alexander banked $180,665.
The tournament was not just sponsored by GGPoker, but was taken right from the online poker room and transferred to the live WSOP tables. In the Flip & Go, everyone is immediately and automatically put all-in before the cards are dealt on the very first hand. In an additional contrast to a normal tournament, everyone is dealt three hole cards. The hand is then played like a game of crazy pineapple, with everyone discarding one of their hole cards after the flop.
Once all discards have been made, the turn and river are dealt and the winner of the hand is determined. That winner moves on to the next round and everyone else is eliminated. If two or more people tie for the best hand, they play another pre-flop all-in hand until one player emerges victorious from the table.
All players who advance past their initial table then play a regular No-Limit Hold’em tournament with 160,000-chip starting stacks.
Poker purists (and many non-purists) haven’t been thrilled with online bracelets and low buy-in events, believing they have diluted the value of the cherished World Series of Poker gold bracelet. And now there is this. The initial issue people have with it is obvious: the beginning stage is a complete luckfest. There is almost no skill involved, aside from making the decision about which card to jettison. But the amount of skill or knowledge to pick the right card is minimal. So for $1,000, you, too, can make the money in WSOP event!
It gets worse, though. The WSOP also allowed unlimited re-entries during the first stage. Thus, deep-pocketed players could effectively buy their way into the “real poker” stage, though it should be noted that those who re-entered a lot would need to finish very high in the standings to profit.
Daniel Negreanu, for instance, fired nine bullets before making it past the initial Flip & Go table. David Williams paid a total of $19,000. Another player re-entered nearly 30 times. One could argue that this is good for the players who only enter once, as it adds to the prize pool, but again, the opening stage is pure luck and not really poker. Lots of poker players are not thrilled with it. But then again, people don’t have to play.
Over 150 players advanced to the “regular” poker portion of the tournament, including, of course, Alexander and his heads-up opponent Jason Beck. On the final hand, the two raised and re-raised until Alexander moved all-in and Beck called with a shorter stack. It was a good heads-up hand for Beck, A-4, but Alexander had him dominated with A-J. Alexander turned the Broadway straight and Beck couldn’t find a chop on the river, giving the hand, pot, and title to DJ Alexander.
Alexander complimented his opponent in his post-match interview with WSOP.com, saying he was a strong player. “It was just unfortunate for him that he had a hand to go with and I had a better one. He played well.”