5 highlights from Cardplayer Lifestyle Mixed Game Festival VII

Resorts World
Mike Patrick
Posted on: March 02, 2024 22:44 PST

Another successful edition of the Cardplayer Lifestyle Mixed Game Festival, hosted by Robbie Strazynski, is in the books from Resorts World Las Vegas.

The week saw plenty of excitement throughout, including appearances from stars of the mixed game world, a hugely successful workshop for women, giveaways galore, and of course plenty of mixed games and merriment, all staples of this continually growing and popular festival.

Here’s a look at five things that made Mixed Game Festival VII a memorable one.

1. Joe Santagata wins H.E.R.O.S. Main Event

Joe Santagata Mixed Game Festival

The festival was capped off by the $300 H.E.R.O.S. Main Event which awarded a PokerStars NAPT package valued at $3,000 to the winner on top of first-place prize money.

Topping a field of 36 players was Las Vegas mixed game regular Joe Santagata, who was a fixture at MGF VII, playing both the tournaments and cash games throughout the week.

Santagata’s triumph came after a 12-hour+ day that included a five-hour final table and over an hour of back-and-forth heads-up play with runner-up Debi Cheek. Rafael Conception rounded out the top three.

“It was a long day, but it was fun,” said the champion.

“We had a long battle at the final table. I was only all in twice all day, and that was at the final table.”

Santagata took home $3,345 for the win and will be flying off to a PokerStars NAPT event this year, where he’ll receive four nights accommodation along with an entry in to a $550 mixed game event.

“That’s awesome, very awesome. That’ll be a lot of fun!”

Details of the 2024 NAPT schedule are expected to be finalized and released soon by PokerStars.

2. Reporter wins tournament, reports on himself!

Ok, let’s just get this one out of the way because as cool as it is, it’s kind of embarrassing to write about myself. Ah, who am I kidding, it’s cool AF!!!

On Day 2 of the festival, I played in and won the $300 O.E. tournament, good enough for a $2,695 payday and one helluva a story.

Every poker reporter jokes about winning a tournament and getting to report on themselves. Well, this week I actually got to do it.

Mike Patrick Mixed Game Festival

I of course can’t thank my friends and colleagues at PokerOrg enough for encouraging me to play, and then supporting me as I made my run to the title, while subsequently trying to work and provide content from the event.

When I joked, “Hey, what am I gonna do, interview myself?” An enthusiastic “Hell yeah!” was the response I got.

And so I did, on break as we approached the money.

It was one of the most fun and surreal experiences for me both as a player and a reporter, and it just kept going after the tournament because since I was pulling double duty with Cardplayer Lifestyle, writing nightly recaps for Strazynski’s site, guess who got to write a full recap about themselves immediately after taking that winners’ photo above.

Yup, it was weird… but awesome.

3. Hall of Famers and mixed game stars join the party

Eli Elezra at Mixed Game Festival VII

They say you can’t play baseball with Shohei Ohtani or play basketball with Lebron James, but poker sometimes allows regular players to play with the stars and their heroes.

Cardplayer Lifestyle has always wanted this to be a big part of their Mixed Game Festival and this edition brought some of the biggest mixed game star power yet.

Poker Hall of Famer Eli Elezra was the festival’s headliner, as he came by on Tuesday to join the $4/8 mixed games, giving players a thrill to sit with the legend and maybe even take a pot off of him.

Actually, many players took pots off Elezra as he took over Strazynski’s seat, played the host’s stack, and promptly lit a blowtorch to it, spreading the Cardplayer Lifestyle founder’s chips around the table.

Along with Elezra, fellow Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson was a regular presence throughout the series, while multiple WSOP mixed game bracelet winners made appearances including Nathan Gamble, Kevin Gerhart, Scott Abrams, Andrew Yeh, and Chris Wallace.

If you came by MGF VII, you were more than likely to sit with a big name in the mixed-game world at some point.

4. Women’s Wednesday introduces players to mixed games

Linda Johnson teaching at Mixed Game Festival

Cardplayer Lifestyle is a huge proponent of promoting women in poker and they brought that initiative to MGF VII with their Women’s Wednesday workshop.

Three tables worth of students were instructed in Omaha 8 or Better and Razz by Johnson, Abrams, and Women in Poker Hall of Famer and LIPS (Ladies International Poker Series) founder Lupe Soto.

They then applied their newfound knowledge in private small stakes cash games which lasted an hour past their originally scheduled wrapup time.

It was a tremendously popular and successful event.

5. Cash game camaraderie

Last but most definitely not least is the primary focus of the Cardplayer Lifestyle Mixed Game Festival.

To provide the ultimate player-friendly experience to enjoy and learn mixed games.

Along with the aforementioned elements, the foundation of the festival is the friendly low-stakes cash games running throughout the day and into the night.

For both veteran mixed game players looking to just have some fun, or those curious about mixed games and eager to learn, the MGF is the perfect venue for both. 

Strazynski and Resorts World provided another fun and welcoming environment, with an incredible variety of games including everything from traditional flop, stud, and draw games to anything you could scribble on a sticky note and explain.

Giveaways throughout the festival from sponsors PokerStars, PokerCoaching.com, PokerGO, RunGood clothing, D&B Publishing, BBO Poker Tables, and more added to the excitement and value of taking a seat.

Cardplayer Lifestyle is now seven Mixed Game Festivals in, with no plans of slowing down. Strazynski is already thinking about what’s next for MGF VIII and continuing to grow what’s affectionately becoming known as the world’s best kitchen table game.

Images courtesy of Cardplayer Lifestyle