Strazynski brings mixed games to the masses: “Poker is much more than Hold’em”

Terrance Reid
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Posted on: November 22, 2023 12:06 pm EST

Call Razz on Robbie.

Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – Robbie Strazynski stood up at 3:45 a.m. in the middle of the Caeser’s Palace poker room and yelled, “I love poker!”

What spawned such a passionate exuberance over the card game we all know and love?

As those who know Strazynski can guess: Mixed games.

The first beginnings of the Mixed Game Festival

Cardplayer Lifestyle‘s sixth iteration of the popular Mixed Game Festival returns to Resorts World in Las Vegas November 26-30, 2023. We spoke with Strazynski, the founder of the site and the festival, to discover more about the path to its conception and creation.

It’s not down on any map; true places never are.

“For three summers I was working with PokerGO on their WSOP team,” Strazynski shared. “It was great, I learned a lot. But, after that third summer, I got back home and told my wife, ‘I think I’m good. I don’t know if I want to do it again.’ She said, ‘Well, you better figure out a way to make some money so you can go back next summer, then.'”

Already successfully running his independent website, that conversation ignited the spark in Strazynski to develop something truly special.

“I asked myself, ‘What do you want to do?’ “Well, you love playing mixed games. Some of the most fun I’ve had was when media folks got together to play $4/$8 mix. So, let’s do something with mixed games, like a meetup.”

Robbie Strazynski Event 23 Day 1 (Image: Haley Hintze)
Robbie Strazynski – king of the Mixed Game Festival

Those early musings led to conversations Strazynski hadn’t even imagined yet. The pandemic hit, halting immediate plans. However, on the other side, in October 2021, those plans came back to life.

“I took a shot in the dark with that first one,” he said. “I got very lucky. PokerStars wanted to give away a Platinum Pass [at the Mixed Game Festival]. So, the first event attracted that much more attention. It was the first Platinum Pass given away in a year and a half.”

After the first successful event, Strazynski has continued to add more and more sponsors, events, and value adds with each festival. Now, with five festivals under his belt, he feels it’s better than ever.

To everybody that be Mixin’ it up

For many, it can be daunting to ford the fjords into the mixed-games streets. Believed as either relics of the past or carnival games of the current, myriad cards and bets fly while plaques read games like “Drawmaha 49” at a lonely table in the corner of the room.

Ignorance is the parent of fear, and Strazynski is doing his part to help new players embrace the games and environment that may seem intimidating at first glance.

“Hold’em might be the Cadillac of poker, but Cadillacs get old and dusty after a while,” laughed Strazynski. “It’s nice to try out a new car or lots of different cars. Poker is much more than Hold’em or PLO.”

The plethora of plaques sitting on the Resorts World tables that players can choose from to round out their games proves his point.

“When you come to the tables, no one will scare you off,” he said. “If you don’t understand a game? We’ll help you; we’ll explain it to you. We’re a community. If you’ve never tried it before, this is the easiest and least intimidating way to get your feet wet. It’s not going to cost you a lot of money, and you’re going to have a great time.”

It’s hard to describe the feeling in the air when the festival is going on. A sense of community definitely is the right idea. Camaraderie persists, and Strazynski gives a small taste of the recurring inside jokes that abound.

“My good friend, Chad McVean, overheard me one time when Razz came up moaning ‘Oh, Razz,'” said Strazynski. “Now, it’s kind of taken a life of its own, I kind of roll with it. I don’t hate the game; it’s not my favorite game. It’s fun. People who’ve attended before say, ‘Oh, Robbie’s coming to the table? Call Razz.’ It’s just a thing. A little secret: I win more than I lose in Razz.”

A non-stop week of mixed games and more

For those interested in attending next week, whether it be your first time or your sixth, Strazynski shared details about the schedule of events.

“On Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, those are our pure cash game days,” he said. “Monday the 27th and Thursday the 30th are the Stud 8 and Horse tournaments. We’ll likely have cash games running as players bust the tournaments. At noon each day, the cash games will start running.”

Low-stakes games dominate the festival, focusing more on enjoying the game than “making coin,” as Strazynski likes to say.

“Usually $4/$8 are the dominant limits,” he said. “There’s also an $8/$16 game that runs regularly, that’s ‘Coach’s Game.’ One time we had six tables running simultaneously. Imagine that, almost 50 people playing the low-stakes dealer’s choice in a Las Vegas poker room. That’s pretty cool.”

Mixed game festival schedule
The Mixed Game Festival schedule

In addition to non-stop cash game action and two tournaments, there will be the famous pizza party, a poker trivia competition, a book signing with Amanda Botfield, and more.

To cap off the week, the winner of the HORSE tournament on Thursday will also receive a WPT Voyage prize package valued at over $5,000 and presented by special guest Matt Savage. Famous names are known to drop by and sometimes play to support the festival.

“Linda Johnson, Eli Elezra, Ali Nejad, Brian Hastings, Greg Raymer, Ari Engel, Dylan Linde, Nathan Gamble, the list goes on,” shared Strazynski. “The great Jeff Platt has come and supported us. Even Norman Chad! He might give you a starburst. You might get to play with a Main Event champion, a multi-time bracelet winner, or a Hall of Famer.”

The festival kicks off on Sunday at noon at Resorts World in Las Vegas. Poker.org will also be there providing additional media coverage to showcase the week of festivities.

Don’t miss your chance to call Razz on Robbie.