Since I played a marthon NLH tournament yesterday, I thought I would take a minute to address a couple of seldom discussed aspects that came up during the daily poker tournament at the Aria casino. I like playing at the Aria poker room, it is well run, has great dealers, and is very comfortable to play in. The $125 daily that starts at 1pm represents a pretty good buy in and usually gets a nice prize pool without a tremendous time spend. This one turned out to be a bit of an exception as there were only 63 entries (including rebuys) and it had been going for over 10 hours when I finally busted out in 4th place at about 11:15pm!
A couple of things happened in this tournament that were a bit out of the norm: first it last a very long time. With 63 entries, tournaments seldom last for 10 hours+ especially with the blind structures designed to shoot up very quickly at the end. When I went out in 4th place the blinds were $20k-$10k with $3k antes and there was only about 30 or so Big Blinds left in play TOTAL. Needless to say, everyone was short-stacked whether they knew it or not. Obviously skill was out of the equation once everyone at the table had no more than 6-8 BB’s so finishing 4th rather than first was ok with me as it was just luck at that point.
The real oddity of this tournament was that there was one guy at the table who refused to pay the bubble. One Asian guy who pretended not to understand English, not understand what ‘paying the bubble’ meant and was in general just a miserable human being. He actually did understand and his story changed later on to ‘he just didn’t want to.’
He also refused to chop at every point he was offered a chop.
Let me discuss both of these points separately because they are separate. First of all, paying the bubble is a gentlemanly thing to do. When a $125 buy-in tournament lasts 8-9 hours and the ‘money’ has still not been reached, it is a very decent thing for every player at the table to dig into their pockets for $20 to pay the poor sap that busts out after all that effort and doesn’t make any more. I don’t care if you agree with me or not, poker is a gentleman’s game and it should be played with people treating each other like human beings, not people treating each other like shit and then pretending not to understand what was going on. (Did I mention that this player was the big stack at the table by a large margin, at first anyway, due to the fact that he had won a 3-way all in after runner-ing a flush draw at a previous table?) It was no skin off his nose to pay the bubble since he was about 4x the nearest stack size, and when he wouldn’t agree to it, the poker room manager told the table that it had to be all of us agreeing or none. Which, frankly, is bullshit. If one player at the table wants to act like a jerk-off, it shouldn’t stop everyone else from doing the right thing. But, rules are rules, and his enforcing them was fine with me. As soon as the bubble player busted out (which could have been any of us) we all stood up and pass him a $20 bill as we shook hands with him. Like I said; a gentleman’s game and thankfully there were mostly gentleman playing it.
The fact is if you are in a tournament like this, it’s ok to pay the bubble. And truly bad form to act like an asshole and not agree to pay the bubble. Agree with me or not, 7 out of 8 players at this final table did the right thing. If you ever find yourself in that situation, I hope you would do the same.
The next thing that took place is one Asian player who pretended not to understand English and you didn’t know what a chop was, refused to chop over and over when asked. I don’t care if you want to chop or not. If you don’t, simply say you don’t. This asshole who had everybody at the table stacked by 4x-5x ended up in 3rd place, so all he did was screw himself, but seriously, when you have played for 10-11 hours in a tournament like this, and everybody has around 6-8 BB’s, would it kill you to act like you can speak English and agree to a chop?
Chopping at the end of a tournament is something that is seldom ever explained and I feel that many players don’t quite understand it and feel like they may be getting taken advantage of when a chop is offered. Let me explain WHY you would want to chop: you have played a long tournament and everyone who has last to this point probably deserves some money. The problem is when you get late in a tournament, the blinds structures get very high. This is mainly because the poker room would like to see this tournament finished so that they can use the table for another tournament or a cash game that is generating rake. When the Big Blind is $20k and everybody has around $100k in chips, it is just a crap shoot at this point. You are not going to skillfully outplay your opponents so it is most times best to consider what a chop can get you. Sure, you might end up with 1st place money if you continue, and you might end up with 3rd or 4th or 5th (depending on how many players are left when the chop is being discussed) It is up to the poker gods and the luck of the cards at that point.
Chops do not have to be equally portioned for each player. They can be portioned according to your chip stack. If you don’t understand, it’s ok. Nobody will look down on you. Just say that you don’t understand and either another player or someone who works for the casino will explain it to you.
The times you might NOT want to chop is if the blinds are still relatively low to your chip stack and you feel that you are a better player than the others left at the table. For example, if you are chip leader with $400k in chips and the blinds are $10k-$5k and everyone else has under $100k, you probably don’t want to chop. Or you might take a chop that awards you nearly first place money anyway and just adds a tiny bit to the smaller stacks pay-outs. This gets the game done and you come away with about what you would have made with the element of luck taken out of it.
The point is, there are all kinds of different ways to chop at the end of the tournament and some of them might be very acceptable for many different reasons.
What is not acceptable is for you to sit there claiming that you don’t understand when you actually do. You don’t have to act like an asshole at the poker table. It is ok to try and be kind to your fellow players. It’s not a sign of weakness that you are a decent person. But it is a sign that you are an asshole when you not only refuse to pay the bubble on the grounds that you don’t understand what ‘the bubble’ is, and when you refuse to chop because you are ‘enjoying.’ If any of this sounds racist because it was an Asian player whom I am calling out in this instance, so be it. It has nothing to do with race when you act like an asshole. Think about that the next time you pretend not to understand English when you are playing a tournament in an English casino here in America.
Contact Chris Wilcox firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-850-2377