Saturday, November 29, 2008

An unfriendly chop of the prize money

Looking straight up 32 stories at the Goldstrike Casino at night.

I returned home today from Illinois and the fellowship and Thanksgiving with my family. We celebrated it Friday. It's always great to see Mom and my brothers and sisters and their families.

After I got back, I headed over to the Goldstrike and their weekly Saturday 6 p.m. tournament. There were 66 runners and the buyin was $110 for 6,000 in chips, 20-minute levels -- the usual stuff. The casino added $1,000 to sweeten the prize pool.

During the first three levels, I played one hand, except for two where I was in the blinds. The pot was always raised when it got to me and I chose not to play any of the hands I held. One was tempting: K J, but that can be a trouble hand. If the flop is king-high, you never know how good your jack kicker is. The one hand I did play, there were three limpers to me and I held: A A. I made a raise from 200 to 1,000 and everyone folded.

During the fifth level, I doubled up. The blinds were 200/400/25, my stack was around 5800 and I raised to 1200 from late position with 9 9. The button called and the small blind moved all in. His stack was about the size of mine, so I chose to gamble, figuring the SB for overcards, making me a small favorite with dead money in the pot. The button folded and the SB turned over: 7 7! My hand held up.

The next few hands I got that were playable, I raised and everyone folded. When the blinds and antes start to get high, players tighten up. Once I had A/K and won it uncontested. Once I had A Q and raised. A short stack moved all in, and I called. He showed A Q and we all had a good laugh. The other hand, I had K 9 and stole the pot.

When we reached level 9, we were down to two tables. The blinds were 600/1200/200 and I had ~20,000. An early position guy raised to 6000 and a shot stack moved all in for ~12,000. I looked at my hole cards and was delighted to see: K K. I went ahead and moved all in. The original raiser called and turned over J J. The short-stack showed A K. The board flopped with Q-10-x. Now a jack would mean I would lose to both of them -- the small stack would have a straight and the other guy a set. The board bricked out, so I had mucho chips now.

They were paying seven places. When we got to the final table, there were only nine of us, two players got knocked out at the same time. There was a guy with 120,000 or so, and I had 65,000. There were three short stacks and everyone else in the middle, maybe around 25,000 to 35,000 or so. I arrived at the table last and they were trying to do a chop where the big stack got first-place money and we all divided the rest. This was ridiculous on several levels. The big stack was by no means even close to being a sure thing to win. Second, why should the short stacks get the same money as I would? So, I vetoed that.

When two players were knocked out, they tried to do a chop again. The guy who had the most chips was really being selfish and didn't understand that his position wasn't as strong as he thought. There was lots of bickering back and forth, worse that I have ever seen. There is always some contentiousness during these discussions, but most players are at least semi-reasonable.

Then the seventh-place guy got knocked out, and there were six of us. One guy had chipped up to about my size, and the other three were short-stacked. The blinds were 2000/4000/500. finally, they suggested that the big stack get $1900 (which was too much), and the other big stack and I would get $1000 (about right), and the other three would divide up what was left. So everyone agreed.

Now the casino divided up the money to pay us, and it was short. When the Tournament Director was asked for the payout figures, he forgot that he had already paid seventh place, which was around $175. So, one guy suggested we all give up $30 to make it up. The guy who already was getting 1900 refused! "That's not what I agreed to," he said. What an asshat.

So, finally the other guy and I who got $1,000 both agreed to give up $50 each. To tell the truth, I was ready to get out of there. I don't think I've ever won 950 mobneys and had such a lousy time. Sure, you are playing to win money, but it's supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be exciting. You are supposed to feel good about it, if you do well, and none this was happening for me.

I'm not sure what I'll do next time I'm in that situation. Maybe just refuse to chop. If you play it out, then the chips fall where they may (ha ha, chips, get it?).

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