Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The art of the deal

A reader. Yakshi, asked why do players so often chop (divide the remaining prize money) at the end of tournaments. Surely they don't enter hoping to chop -- they enter hoping to win he says (or at least implies).

Everyone wants to win and most of the people who make it to the final three or four players all have egos and think they are wonderful players. Given this, the reader asks a great question.

I included the image of the shot clock (you can click to enlarge) from Sunday's tournament when there were four of us left. We didn't count our stacks, but, for the sake of argument, let's assume each of us had 155,000 of the 620,000 chips that were in play. Notice the big blind -- it's 16,000. Let's say you have a good hand. Would you raise to three times the big blind? That would be 48,000 or about one-third of your stack. It's silly to bet that amount because you would be pot committed, so players move all in if they choose to play. Another way to put it is that the size of the blinds and antes have overtaken the skill aspect of the tournament.

Because of this, it becomes a crap shoot. One lucky hand can decide lots of money. Notice that first place is $1,010 and fourth place is only $258. That's a big difference to be determined by luck. Oh, you say, I'm better than these guys and can outplay them. Not so fast. When the blinds are this big, it's becomes more luck than skill. Because of this, players are willing to chop.

Notice one more thing from the image: In five minutes, the blinds are going up to $20,000/$10,000 with a $2000 ante and things become even more schizophrenic.

One thing I would like to add, however, is that I see players agree to a chop when they have a huge chip stack compared to the rest. Why? I think maybe they get nervous or maybe just tired. There's lots of pressure when just one deal can make so much difference. Players just want it to end, so agree to bad chops. If I have way more than the others, I just ask for extra. "I'll chop," I say, "but I want a little extra." The others understand that and will usually agree.

Another situation is when somebody wants to chop when there is one (or two) very short stacks. Why should they get the same as the rest of us? I try not to be the bad guy, but sometimes I'll say, "Let's play awhile." This says that I'm not against a chop, but not right now. If the short stack doubles up or busts out, a chop can be revisited.


  1. Online chop has only been available in recent times with someone from the site helping negotiate the chop. Too bad that software/expertise isn't an option at B&M. The original chop offered is math based and accurate without added work. Then the negotiation can proceed. They also play out for a lesser/agreed sum. Bragging rights are fun too.

    That said, the physical presence is a determinant to more elaborate chopping. What you describe seems reasonable and appropriate or you turn it down as mentioned. B&M chops don't want a play out for obvious cost reasons. That's kind of sad in a way but the decent payday is never that sad.

    Two worlds. Each with their advantages and disadvantages.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. Every 10 poker posts or so, can you explain terms and strategy? Would keep us bridge fellas somewhat less mystified.

  3. I think I understand what you just wrote. Let's see. As soon as I read it I went and cooked two pork chops. Uh, oh. I think I missed something.

    Just kidding! Actually, you explained all that very well. I don't understand some of it, but what do you expect from a guy who spends all of his time on a golf course?