Sixteen Players Agree to Massive $294,000 Chop at World Poker Tour Event

  • Each player won $18,386 after tournament director approved deal
  • Prize chops allow poker players to avoid risk of bad luck
  • Deal-making not officially allowed on Main Tour of WPT
  • WPT looking to work with casinos to allow deal-making wherever legal
poker players' hands with chips on table with WPT logo
The final 16 players in a recent World Poker Tour event agreed to chop the remaining $294,176 prize pool evenly. [Image: flickr.com]

Unheard-of player number

Sixteen players chopped the final $294,176 of the prize pool evenly in the last event of the World Poker Tour Maryland at Live! Casino stop last week. The $360 No-Limit Hold’em event had a $500,000 guaranteed prize pool and drew 1,652 across ten starting flights.

a chop among this many players is unprecedented

Although common in tournaments, a chop among this many players is unprecedented. Deals in which players chop the remaining prize pool are usually limited to the final two, three, or maybe four players in the tournament.

Tournament director surprised, amused

According to a report from PokerNews.com, tournament director Jason Heidenthal had the night off but was keeping tabs on things from home. There were still two full tables remaining, and Heidenthal believed players and staff were in for several more hours of play at 11pm.

A tournament supervisor then texted Heidenthal saying all 18 remaining players were discussing a possible chop. No agreement was made, but after two eliminations, talks resumed. The supervisor then informed him that the 16 players wanted to chop the prize pool evenly.

Heidenthal told PokerNews he called the supervisor on duty, laughingly saying,

If that’s what they want, pay ’em out and send them on their way.”

Players make deals to avoid risk

Although deals can often be anti-climactic, players discuss chops because the blinds can get very high at the final table in relation to chip stacks. At the same time, pay jumps get steep. Players don’t like to see their winnings being based more on the luck of the draw than skill, which explains why they would rather make a deal and lock in a payout.

In the case of the 16-player chop, blinds likely hadn’t risen too high yet and the pay jumps were not severe. An even chop is also unusual, but it made sense with that many players. PokerNews also noted that for 12 of the 16 players, the $18,386 they each received was their largest recorded live tournament win.

While many poker fans do not like deal-making, believing it takes the excitement out of the endgame, Heidenthal has no problems with it:

It’s their tournament — that’s always our philosophy here at Live! It’s their money; they can do whatever they want with it.”

Deal-making on WPT’s mind

The World Poker Tour does not allow deal-making on the Main Tour. The Maryland at Live! Casino stop is part of the Main Tour, but it is not the Main Event, which might explain why the chop was allowed.

the WPT will work with casinos to allow deal-making wherever it is legal

Recently, the WPT’s executive tour director, Matt Savage, took to Twitter to ask the poker community for their thoughts on deal-making. Responses were mixed, but Savage came away from it saying the WPT will work with casinos to allow deal-making wherever it is legal.

Savage did not specify what, if any, rules there would be for chops. The most common setup suggested by those in favor of deals was to leave 10 percent of the remaining prize pool and the tournament title on the table. That way, players would have an incentive to keep playing legitimate poker. There was no consensus reached on how WPT Player of the Year points should be divided.