In continuation of our new series on top bettors and gamblers, we present Chris Fargis
He’s not exactly a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, but this year’s World Champion of 2-7 Triple Draw, crowned at the $10,000 buy-in event at the World Series of Poker Circuit Event in Tunica Mississippi certainly stood out among the crusty Southern gamblers that frequent the game.
Twenty-something Chris Fargis hails from Brooklyn, a long way from the rest of the final table home states of Arkansas (twice), Kentucky, Alabama, and Tennessee. He might not hail from the South and might be a generation or so younger than his final table opponents, but he’s got the game, and now he’s got the title of World Champion of Triple Draw. The WSOP event this year is a smaller buy-in at $5,000 per entry, making the $10K Circuit Event the biggest buy-in event of the year, and the World Championship.
Chris is a professional poker player, making appearances at the major tournaments on the East Coast, such as WPT stops at Foxwoods and the Borgata, as well as annual trips to play the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas each summer. Chris also sites the February major tournament at the Commerce in L.A. and sites the WPT stops at the Bellagio as other favorites. Now he’s adding an annual trip to Tunica, to defend his title, to his travel routine.
Like many younger players, Chris got his start in low stakes games in college, playing in a friend’s dorm room. “Only a couple of the guys knew how to play. We even had a cheat sheet with the hand rankings that we passed around. We played once a week for a while but it built and after a few months we were playing every night and taking trips to Foxwoods on the weekends.” Chris’s skill at poker quickly developed, and after a job on the West Coast didn’t work out, he came back East and “…sort of never found another job,” making the leap from part-time player to full time almost organically, just letting the pieces fall into place to take him into major-league poker.
Unfortunately, his return to New York coincided with a crackdown by local law enforcement on the underground card rooms that were featured so prominently in films like Rounders and the real-life development of poker superstars like Erik Seidel and Howard Lederer. Fortunately, at the same time, online poker took off like a skyrocket, giving Chris plenty of opportunities to work on his game and compete with the best from all over the world.
“I play the big Sunday tournament on PokerStars and PartyPoker every week when I’m home. The annual WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) on PokerStars is also a lot of fun.”
These major weekly tournaments have first place prizes in excess of $100,000.00, so placing well in these tourneys can easily make up the loss of an underground card room.
But Chris’s main game is different from the vast majority of young poker players. He plays 2-7 triple draw, a form lowball where the best possible hand is 7-5-4-3-2, a seven-high with no straights. There are three different drawing betting rounds that give the player a chance to improve his hand and provide the opportunity for more decision-making and more chances to work on reading an opponent.
It was at this game in January 2006 where Chris found himself heads-up with Doc Jennings, one of the undisputed legends of triple-draw poker, six-time champion of the National $5k Heads-Up Triple-Draw Championship, who once told John Juanda (after Juanda captured the WSOP bracelet in Triple Draw) “Anyone can get lucky and win a bracelet at the World Series, but you have to go through Daddy to win the trophy.”
Well, Chris was sitting across the table from Doc, the last two standing among 27 entrants who put up $10,000 each to test their mettle, and Chris made an 8-5-4-3-2 on his second draw. Doc made an 8-6 high, a very strong lowball hand, and all the chips went into the middle. When the dust settled, the pot shipped to Chris, along with a gold WSOP Circuit Championship ring, and the knowledge that he had measured himself against true legends of the game, and came out standing strong.
The triple draw is more favored among older players than the ‘iPod’ and ‘hoodie’ crowd, but is a staple among high-stakes mixed games, forcing Chris to work on other games in his repertoire to stay competitive against the top live players.
“At the stakes, I’m playing these days, it’s all mixed games, all the time. You have to be prepared to play whatever games are in the mix so I’m trying to work on the games I don’t have a lot of experience with.”