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Why You Should NOT Chop When Deep In A Tournament

If you have ever made a deep run in a tournament, you may have been asked “Do you want to chop?”

It’s no wonder why. Especially in bigger tournaments, the pay jumps at final tables can be steep. You are playing for massive stakes with no idea what the future holds.

But while making a deal can seem like the best play in the short term to minimize variance, one successful pro argues that you may be better off in the long-run playing it out. This article will lay out that argument for your consideration.

A ‘chop’ is an agreement between tournament players to split the remaining prize pool instead of continuing play.

The Case Against Chopping (from Andrew Moreno’s Instagram)

Long-time pro Andrew Moreno made a recent Instagram post in which he made the case against chopping.

Andrew is a great authority on this subject as he’s racked up $3,386,341 in live tournament earnings, highlighted by a $1,460,106 win in the 2021 Wynn Millions Main Event.

Here’s what he said:

At the final table of the $2,500 Venetian tournament, the word “chop” got thrown around a few times. First, when we were 4-handed, I politely declined. Then again, when we were 3-handed. Once again, I respectfully declined.

When I got heads up, the gentlemen proposed a chop and even offered to give me slightly more money despite having me out chipped 12 million to my 8 million. He was puzzled as to why I would decline a deal. I did so for two reasons.

The first reason is that I thought I had an edge. But the second reason is equally as important but not a reason most players consider: I wanted to seize the opportunity for invaluable final table experience.

Lots of players go for a chop at every final table they make because they think it makes sense financially. You are playing for large amounts of money, and anything can happen.

If you are one of these players, imagine this: You are having the run of a lifetime in a big tournament – let’s say a big field WSOP event with a million-dollar top prize– and you find yourself at the final table. You propose a deal short-handed. They decline.

You’re playing for more money than you’ve ever played for before, and you have no experience to draw from. You don’t know what it’s like to play three-handed or heads up. The pressure of the pay jumps frazzles your nerves. You play scared or timid because you don’t know what to do. How do you like your chances?

You’d probably like your chances a lot more if you’d played out some of those final tables instead of asking for a chop. You might even be cursing yourself for it. You may have played it safe in those situations to lock up extra money, but the lack of experience at a big final table might cost you more.

And there’s one more thing I want to say about the experience of “playing for it all”. When everything is on the line, the pressure and emotion are at all-time highs. When I look back on my poker career, those moments are when I felt most alive. You are walking a tightrope with everything at stake. The agony of defeat and the thrill of victory are amplified many times over with no deal. I live for the emotion, whichever the universe has in store for me.

In short: while it may make short-term financial sense to chop when deep in a tournament, you may very well be costing yourself in the long-run by doing so. Gaining final table experience is extremely valuable, and that experience may help you bring home a life-changing score in the future.

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Final Thoughts

In the heat of the moment, it can be very difficult to make the decision about whether or not to chop.

Emotions are high, the pay jumps are significant, and the rest of the table may be in agreement. But your job is to ignore the noise and make the best possible decision for your current and future self.

Hopefully, this article provided you with some new perspective on chopping. Depending on the situation and amount of money at stake, making a deal still may be the right option for you, but there’s also a chance it isn’t. The key is to think it over and make the decision with your head — not your heart.

Want to check out some hand analysis from a high stakes tournament? Read Should He Call All-In With Ace-High in a $250,000 Tournament? (Analysis).

That’s it for today. Good luck at the tables.

Note: If you’d like updates and hand histories from Andrew Moreno as he grinds the biggest tournaments around the world, follow him on Instagram.

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About the Author
Patrick Harvey

Patrick Harvey

Graduate student trying to make money in poker so that I don't end up having to drive Knish's truck.

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