Professional Poker tournaments are tough to win at the best of times. So imagine emerging victorious in a game you’ve never played and only entered by accident. For Christian Pham, that recently became a reality.
Pham, a Vietnamese immigrant living in St. Paul, Minnesota, didn’t mean to put his name down for the Las Vegas tournament’s ‘so-called no-limit deuce-to-seven draw lowball’.
Indeed, he intended to enter the no-limit Texas hold ‘em. But I don’t think he’ll be complaining. Because of his sensational mishap, he walked away with $81,314 after beating out 219 other players in the game he says he’s never played before in his life.
“It’s a totally different game. Different mindset. Different strategies,” said Shawn Harris, Pham’s dealer at the final table.
Putting it simply, the goal is to have the lowest poker hand, no straights or flushes, and if a player ends up with a pair, it’s more advantageous if it’s a pair of twos. Players can also draw cards.
Astonishingly, Pham revealed he didn’t realise his mistake until he was dealt five cards instead of the usual two. He initially panicked, but he then observed what other players were doing and picked up the best way to win quickly.
“At first you suspect an act, but if it was, it was very good,” said Chris Mecklin who was sitting next to Pham when he realised he had made a mistake.
Pham won the famous gold bracelet and stood on stage as tournament organisers and players stood for the playing of Vietnam’s national anthem. Every winner of the tournament’s 68 events gets to hear his or her anthem of choice.
Pham moved to Minnesota from Vietnam 15 years ago and began his new life by delivering newspapers. He started dabbling in poker throughout the years and in 2014 he won a satellite tournament that sent him to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker’s circuit main event, where he ultimately won the gold ring and $214,332.
“After that, I thought this game might be very good to me,” he said.
Solid deduction skills there mate!