Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leave the Chop Behind (Poker Phil)

This is a report from AC Poker Happenings' correspondent, Poker Phil. (I got nothing better to call him). He's been at the Borgata WPT all week.


Week One of the Borgata Open has ended with six events in the books. There were four No-Limit Hold 'Em (NLHE) events with buy-ins ranging from $500-$1500, one Ladies NLHE Event, and one Limit Hold 'Em (LHE) Event.

So far in the early weeks there’s been nothing spectacular and few pros have made their way for the opening events. There has, however, been a trend forming early on during this series of tournament events - chopping.

I’ve never been one for chopping. I play in the event to first make the money, but then once that goal has been reached I play for keeps. I have the confidence in my ability to feel that any time I’m in a position to potentially win a tournament, I will most likely do so. So far, that’s paid off. Either I finish top fix or not in the money at all, and that’s the way I prefer it. I’m just not about building a chip stack only to sit down with a number of other players and agree to split it all up, friendly like.

However there’s more to it. I can understand the last three or four offer a chop to each other. Normally at that point there’s a clear cut chip leader with more than half the chips in play, and three others fighting it out for second place. When this happens, normally the chip leader offers to take 85-90% of the first place money (normally dependant on how many of the chips in play he actually has) and the remaining players take an even chop of the remaining money.

Sometimes if the stacks are close, they’ll pool the last four spots together, and work a percentage chop based on position working somewhere along the lines of 15%/20%/30%/35%. Actually, any chop can be worked out to whatever percentages are agreed upon. So far with four final tables in the books, there have been three chops involving the entire final table. That’s nine ways…

I just don’t really agree with this thought process. If that was the case, why even bother playing down to a final table?

Just work out a chop beforehand and set that up. Spread the places more evenly instead of frontloading the most money for a payout. I have never chopped a tournament at any level, and I sure wouldn’t chop it nine ways at the final table. I didn’t play for 14 hours the day before to effectively tie with eight other players. Sure the money wouldn’t be even, but I didn’t “beat” any of them. I’m already guaranteed to make money, and I’m always confident in my ability to outplay any opponent that’s put before me. That’s one of the misconceptions about playing against pros. Sure, they are professional poker players. But that only means they do it for a living. It’s how they get paid. There’s a number of people that consistently play winning poker. The difference is that they have lives that require expenses and can never devote the time and energy it takes to play poker for a living.

When I play poker, it’s a leisurely night out. Sure, I know that chances are I’m going to walk away with more than I walked in with, but to what degree? Sometimes I make close to $1000 off a simple $250 buy-in at a casino cash game. Sometimes I’m making $150 in a small house game at a friends house. However, there are some nights where I come away a fractional winner, or even a small loser. The difference is that when I win, that money is generally spent right away for things like bills, rent, gas, food, and other assorted life necessities. I’m sure that once I get well ahead of the game I’ll be able to start working on a bankroll and move up in cash game limits and tournament buy-ins, but until that time I’m happy where I am.

That being said, any extra money is a good thing, and since I’m guaranteed to walk away with more than I started with after I make the money, I want to walk away with as much as possible. Now I’m not a total fool. If I’m an anemic stack at the final table well to the point where I might see three or four more hands before being forced all-in and someone offers me a chop; I’m taking it if it’s the right number. Otherwise, I’m going to let the cards play and if I should win that hand, all bets are off. I’m in until I have all the chips, or none left at all.

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