They say fortune favors the bold, but for Christian Pham, maybe it was just in the cards.
Pham, 40, accidentally signed up for the wrong event in the World Series of Poker last week, only realizing his mistake after he'd been dealt his first hand of cards and it was too late to un-register. Despite having never played the game before, he proceeded to win the event -- and the $81,314 payout that came with it.
"I thought I had registered for the $1,500 limit hold'em," Pham told Poker News, explaining that he ended up playing no-limit 2-7 single draw instead. "I would've unregistered if I knew what the event was."
"They had started dealing already, so I couldn’t do anything,” Pham explained later, according to the World Series of Poker site. “If they had not started dealing, I would have told the floorman and asked to be unregistered.”
So-called "Deuce To Seven" single draw rewards players for the best low hand, according to PokerStars.com, "making it the opposite of games like hold'em," which is what Pham originally intended to play.
Though initially quite confused, Pham stuck with it thanks to a couple of pointers from another player at his table.
"There was a very nice older gentleman sitting next to me, and he told me '2-3-4-5-7 is the nuts, and 2-3-4-6-7 is the second nuts,'" Pham told Poker News. "I put that in my phone and tried to figure out what hands I can play. After that I kept learning, but I also got good hands. I folded the first seven hands until I'd learned the game from the guy who was sitting besides me. He was very nice."
After the first day of play, Pham studied up on strategy. Apparently the studying paid off: When the event ended on Friday, he had won it all. He told the AP his victory had more to do with basic tournament strategy -- when to bet and how much -- than understanding the particulars of the game.
Chris Mecklin, a player at Pham's table, said he initially suspected Pham was lying about being new to the game, while conceding that he did seem genuinely confused. "At first you suspect an act," Mecklin said, "but if it was, it was very good."
Pham said he'll certainly register for the same game next year, this time intentionally.
"We don’t have this game in Minnesota,” he told WSOP. "Now, I love this game."