Chopping at the final table

CASEY MCASEY M Red Chipper Posts: 168 ✭✭
edited August 2017 in Tournament Poker Hands
Hey all,
This will be a long post.
So Ive been playing at a local cardroom and switched to just tourneys because the cash rake blows. I used to grind online cash up to 50nl for a decent winrate. Learning live tournament has been different but Im doing pretty good now. These are 2-6 table tourneys.
After going through my numbers, Ive finished top three 31% of the time. Ive been first 18% of the time. Total tournaments played is 44.

Its a friendly fun place to play. Its mostly an older crowd with a few 20somethings. Im 39.

Anyways, the payout is usually top three, if there are 5 or more tables top 5. When we get to the final 6 there is almost always a talk to give the bubble their buy in back. And then there is usually a talk about an ICM chip chop that goes through a lot of the time.

Im usually one to go with table consensus and I think Im making negative decisions when I do so.

Heres what happened today.
$130 buyin freezeout. 2 tables.
When we get to 6 handed I have 114k in chips and there are 304k total.
Blinds are at 4k/8k with a 500 ante.
Payout were

We ended up chopping it via ICM and I ended up taking the highest payout which equaled 2nd place money.

Here are my reasons for agreeing to do this.

1. Its become habit to just go with consensus. Ive never been the one to say no to say to a chop regardless of my chip stack.. I think this is a leak.
2. I did the math wrong, I thought I had 29% of the chips but actually had 37.5. With reason number 1 though I dont think this would have mattered.
3. With blinds so high and the stacks so short Id be calling a lot of allins. I thought that taking second place money would be +EV vs the variance of calling all ins.

As soon as I cashed out I thought I made a mistake. Im not a young guy trying to be a pro, Im 39, but I take the game very seriously and am studying a few hours a week with the MTT crash course.
I do think I have an edge over most of the players here but I know I have a lot to learn.

So help me out here... When is a chop +EV and where can I learn more about that? Ive never really thought of it because of my cash background.
Thanks all, Ill post a few hands for analysis from this tournament also.


  • tripletiretripletire Red Chipper Posts: 323 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2017
    Your ICM share of the prize pool is $580 here, assuming all others have a 38k avg stack. It only goes up from there as the other stacks fluctuate and at least one gets shorter than 38k, meaning your bare minimum ICM chop is $580.

    I've thought about how to run the equation and it comes down to one variable we don't know and would have to estimate, your skill edge/your ability to realize that skill edge (maybe ROI works here if you have a giant sample vs another giant sample). Basically I think it's fair to say whenever you assume your skill edge to be higher than the other players, you have a profitable situation to say no to the ICM chop. This of course doesn't take in to consideration your ability to take on variance, I think this is simply a GTO approach with an unlimited bankroll. But as humans we have to be more concerned with our risk of ruin, which will affect those playing $130 MTTs with a $2k bankroll much more than a $10k one. I'm not sure how to factor that into the equation , but you have to assume as the percentage for risk of ruin goes higher, your EV of not chopping gets lower.

    I think the biggest reason we end up taking the chop is #3, everyone's so short we are relying much more on luck with the consistent all ins. The variance in daily tournaments is so high that a chop seems like the best idea for sure. I've felt the need to go with the consensus too - especially with the bubble getting their money back. Nobody wants to be the asshole and ruin that dynamic.

    I think I only half answered your question :/ would love to hear about a more specific way to determine the EV of a chop if anyone knows

  • No_LongerNo_Longer Red Chipper Posts: 275 ✭✭
    I don't want to be a dick either and usually everyone agrees so I just say screw it and go for the chop. I think it's fine to swallow your pride especially if you'll be back to play with the same group again.

    I play in a weekly tournament and every week I see a ton of the same people, so if someone wants to chop, why not.
  • Jeffrey OJeffrey O Red Chipper Posts: 38 ✭✭
    I'm a fan of chopping. I play a lot of weekday evening low/mid buy-in mtt's, seeing the same people. I've been on the receiving end of a bubble gift and I've also refused to chop and end up missing the payout from getting sucked-out on.

    Unless its life changing $$$, I'm always looking to pad the bankroll and fund the next event
  • Zero CoolZero Cool Red Chipper Posts: 272 ✭✭✭
    Chopping a tournament via ICM is in itself 0EV (assuming you get the count right). You will lose some EV by giving up your skill edge but that gets negated anyway when it becomes a shove fest. Also if they are chopping in more players then the original payout then you can reduce your variance which is a big deal in MTT's.

    I would consider two things. First, your bankroll. If you have less then 50 buy-ins for this tournament then chopping could be better because of the reduced variance. Second, I would look at how often do you finish just outside the money. The more often you finish in those spots the better chopping will be for you.
  • Eon137Eon137 Red Chipper Posts: 188 ✭✭✭
    I play these types of small tournaments often, and ITM about 25% of the time. I'll usually go along with paying the bubble if everyone else agrees; if there is one holdout, I'll vote no to take any pressure off the single no vote. If I have a huge lead over most of the other stacks, I'll hold out on chopping, since my piece of the chop will likely improve if we wait.

    In one case, when we got to four-handed play, I was far ahead of the others, and had a clear skill advantage. They each had less than 10bb. I proposed that if they would concede me 1st place money, they could chop the remaining prize pool as they pleased. This was quickly accepted, and I got my money and they all did an equal chop of the rest, which was just over 3rd place money. So, sometimes you can propose a deal that gets you everything you want and makes everyone else happy too.
  • CASEY MCASEY M Red Chipper Posts: 168 ✭✭
    Thanks all
    I like the reasoning about whether or not its life changing money. Also the variance of the shove fest..... And the part about being a dick.....
    Not sure why the ICM is worth 580 but I got 555. Ill have to ask management about what formula they use.
    Anyways, Im taking half of the winnings and going to the Commerce for a million guarantee event tomorrow. Expecting a huge field and no chop option.
  • derdonkerderdonker San Jose, CA USARed Chipper Posts: 124 ✭✭
    If you're fine with variance, I suggest skipping the chop and getting more final table / short-handed experience. I like @Eon137 's suggestion above, about taking 1st and letting the rest chop the remaining places.
  • Eon137Eon137 Red Chipper Posts: 188 ✭✭✭
    There comes a point in fast-structured tournaments where a chop is the only thing that makes sense: when the blinds are so high relative to everyone's stack that every decision is push/fold and cards alone will decide the winner.

    I found myself at a final table once where we were down to five players and four places were paid. Fourth place was $100 (entry fee was $75). Table agreed to chip in $10 apiece for the bubble. I had the biggest stack at about 25bb; most others were ~10-20bb. When the bubble burst, players asked about an even chop four ways. I declined, since I still had a playable stack and chip advantage. At three-handed, the blinds were up and I was at about 12bb and again someone suggested an even chop. I held out. When third place busted out, the blinds went up again, leaving me with about 6bb and my remaining opponent had 2bb. before the first heads-up hand was dealt, I offered to chop, since neither of us had room to play anything resembling poker. He replied, "You had two chances to chop already, so no!". First hand I'm dealt AJs on the button and announce all in. Opponent looks at his hand and then at the remaining single bb that was his stack and gets a sick look on his face. He sighs, then announces "Call!" and turns over...72o. The board bricks for us both, and he is eliminated with a $500 second place while I take home first for $950.
  • SaintsTigersSaintsTigers Red Chipper Posts: 238 ✭✭
    I recommend downloading an ICM app on your phone. Just search a bit on the appstore and you'll find plenty of options. Some of the tournament staff members will tell you it's an ICM calculation when really it's closer to a chip chop. Can never hurt to know for yourself.

    As far as paying the bubble boy, I'll sometimes be the holdout and sometimes just agree. If you're in a spot where you have heaps and can steal a ton of chips on the bubble, then ending the bubble sooner is horrible for your expectation. On the other hand, if you have like a middling stack then popping the bubble sooner can help you. Play will speed up, meaning you get to play more hands in the money with a deeper stack. That's obviously +EV. If you have a short stack, then having the bubble bust sooner obviously benefits you. Of course goodwill amongst your fellow players is something to consider too. If you make it known that you're against paying the bubble boy but will do it anyway you can maybe have more sway to negotiate a better deal later. That gets in to negotiating tactics, room politics, and other "soft" factors that it's hard to give specific recommendations for.

    As far as deals for the prize money, I agree with a lot of what the posters posted above. In my experience, if you hold out and tactfully refuse to make a deal initially, then the others are likely to give you a bigger slice of the pie. Of course if the money matters to you, then posturing to get a better deal can get you in trouble. Also, always realize that the players signed up for a structured payout tournament so you shouldn't feel obligated to make a deal.

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