POKER TOURNAMENT MANAGEMENT & PROMOTION BOARDS > Poker tournament management issues

Poker rooms that do not allow chopping or do not facilitate chops: why?

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Brian Vickers:
First off, if "state or local gaming regulations do not allow chopping of the prize pool" then this topic will not apply to you.

Players down to 4-handed in a tournament, all 4 players are in agreement that they want to chop the prize pool and you tell them no.  Is this "old school" thinking, or is it something deeper?  Are there TDs or Poker Managers who feel that it is in the casino's or players' interest to not allow the chop here?

Allow me a moment, if you will, to advocate on the side of not only allowing the chop but to facilitate the chop as soon as an agreement is struck:

1. Profitability.  The poker room makes its money at time of buy-in, length of play doesn't increase profits like it does on cash play.  If tournament ends early the casino makes money because you can either EO a dealer or use that dealer/table to open up a live table; this is especially important in smaller rooms where staffing and margins are tight. 
2. Dealer downs.  The fewer downs, the more the downs are worth.  Higher down rate increases dealer happiness and a happy staff is never a bad thing.
3. Player satisfaction.  Here's where guests service enters into it: I would never want to see a back-alley deal geting struck that could potentially leave a player screwed over.  I wouldn't want to see players agree to chop for $1000 a piece on their own after the tournament's over and then have one player walk off and leave another player high and dry.  The guest will project that dissatisfaction on your establishement regardless of how fair that projection is. If players make an agreement, it is in the casino's interest to ensure that agreement is met to increase the liklihood of guest satisfaction.

Are there any counter arguments to any of these points as to why you would not allow a chop in your room?

Nick C:
Hello Brian,

 Your situation, 4 players remaining and all 4 in the money is easy. The problems come from the action at the table when there are one or two players that are on the bubble, and we know they don't want to chop. This could lead to collusion. The only other downside is when a cardroom wants a winner to receive a trophy or some sort of bragging rights for winning the tournament. In that case, we used to play it out to the end anyway, just to have our winner and photo shoots for advertising future events.

 Believe me, I know it can be a real pain in the ass when you are forced to keep the game going when everyone wants to go home, but sometimes that's what we need to do.

We allow chops once the players are all in the money.  Some casinos do not and I have been told it is because they do not want to be a part of any collusion to avoid taxes.   I personally LOVE the idea of letting them chop-it is their prize money ;)

The major reason rooms choose not to allow chops are several. Other than jurisdiction I would say there are two major reasons.

1. Liability - A player who ultimately felt coerced or compelled to agree to a chop due to actions of a casino representative has a legitimate case in court to receive the full potential payout.
2. Title 31 - Among the many aspects of this law is aiding and abetting customers in avoiding the generation of a CTR, including the avoidance of filling out a W2G. Which also leads back to #1.

It's true that it is the players money. However, they agreed to put that money into a holding account, of which they agreed to allow the casino as conservator to disperse payouts according to a predetermined percentage based upon finishing order. At that point its the casino's obligation legally to abide by that payout distribution. Any deviation from that causes accountants, auditors and compliance officers headaches.

I'm so glad in Canada we don't tax our gambling winnings.  I feel if there is going to be a chop that it has to be done by chip equity.  Your percentage of the chips in play gives you a percentage of the total prize pool.  We may still have people being coerced against there will to do this but I think it's easier to speak up when you can pretty easily look around the table and get an estimate of what everyone is getting. 

Once everyone agrees, end the game immediately.  No more hands or else someone is going to get upset by a change in the chips.  If the remaining players still want to determine a ranking then do't use a poker hand to decide.  Fan the deck and have card rankings decide who gets the "trophy".


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