Monday, September 14, 2009

The Not So-Secret Fact About Poker Tournaments on TV

TV Poker Tournaments

Every so often I receive questions from people who watch poker on TV. One common question goes something like this:

"When it gets to the final two players, I don't understand why players push all-in with a lot of hands even though they have so many chips in front of them. Why be so reckless and risk everything?"

Shana Hiatt at the World Poker Tour in 2005Image via Wikipedia

My Answer

If you notice that the remaining two players start playing all-in on almost every hand, there is a very good reason. They have agreed to chop the purse since the difference between first and second is hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I know in the past the WPT has allowed deal-making, and they probably allow it now. I don't know if the WSOP allows deal-making although I don't know how they can really stop it.

(I've been told that chopping the purse used to be very common in golf.)

If you know more about chopping at these major events, please let me know. I haven't been in that situation...yet=)



GiJoeValdez said...

Earlier this week they had a tournament at The Commerce Casino in Los Angeles,Ca and while some rumors said that final table cut a deal. I found out that the last 16 players chopped the price money.

Why would so many do that? Why even play in a tournament if they are going to give up and ask for a chop?

Mitchell Cogert said...

One reason is that when you are sitting at the table and someone does the math, it sounds very attractive to chop (especially at big events!).

And when you combine that reason with the fact that these events turn into luckfests--that is no one feels safe since the blinds are so high relative to the chips stacks in play--it is even more attractive to deal.

Also, this may have been a big event as to number of entrants and therefore a very long event. The final 16 may be the final two tables agreeing to a fairly decent payoff.

One more thing--sometimes these events interfere with your life--people have to be at work the next day or family commitments, etc.

Just some reasons...I'm sure the low chip stacks agreed in a hurry:)

Anonymous said...

Harrah's casinos in NJ/Vegas don't allow people to talk about chops at the table -- if the dealer's a stickler for the rules. But be assured, there are some interesting discussions during the breaks.

What I like to do when it gets close to the bubble is get the table to agree to give the person on the bubble his/her entry fee back from the prize pool.

I then offer another chop when it gets down to two or three people if there is no prestige (no trophies/titles/bracelets) for winning a tournament -- just extra cash.

A few people have taken my offer, I think mostly due to fatigue or a desire to avoid lengthy heads-up battles.

But it can be problematic to chop. Somebody has to pay the taxes. And how do you reward the current chip leader and/or penalize the short stacks? (In most of my scenarios, each player gets the proportion of the prize pool equal to the proportion of the player's chip stack after a period of time.)
Andrew | @haikuhijinks

Mitchell Cogert said...

At the Oaks by me, when it gets down to the bubble player the tournament director asks if it is ok to take the entry fee from the first place payout and give it to the next player eliminated (the bubble). Only one player has ever objected since it tends to be with two table left.

As to the taxes--have the card room provide forms based on what was paid out from the deal.


OhCaptain said...

Another major reason that you see so many shoves on TV is the edit out the hour of poker played between the shoved. The WSOP Main Event of 2008 only showed 5 minutes of the hours of heads up play that actually occurred. All ins are sexier then actual poker.

Melody said...

Totally agree that all-ins are hot stuff to watch. The butterflys you get when the flop, turn, and river come. Especially with great hole cards and interesting flops.

Editing I'm sure comes into play here as well.

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