Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chop Chop!!

I promised you the story of the chop, so here it is:

First, when they got to 7 handed, they asked the floor to pause the blind clock to discuss. The B does not do that, however, because of the prize and so forth, one of the players had asked for a consensus for a bathroom break, and they were granted that. They all adjourned to the table directly next to where we were broadcasting from and started their negotiations.

*on a side note, it always makes me laugh that the shortest guy at the table ALWAYS manages these negotiations. ALWAYS!

At any rate, they jawed for about an hour, and couldn't get anything done. The floor called the clock on them and they went back to play, with the some of the players looking frustrated that nothing could be agreed to when they seemed so close. Seven way chops usually seem to go like that though. Obviously the more people involved, the more chances you have of one guy saying, no, I'm done, let's go.

Play continued, and they got down to 5 when, with about 4 minutes left on the blind clock, and heading to the dinner break, Schuyler Twaddle broached the possibility again. He had a sheet in front of him with all of the payouts and some notes scribbled on it and started to say, "so lets look at this guys". John Racener then looked at him (he was the shortest guy at the table, but really, IMO, the best player there) and said, "buddy, don't waste your time, I'm not interested."

At this point, the average chip stack was $3.3million, and the blinds were $20k antes with 80k/160k blinds and going to 100k/200k after the break.

Mark Reynolds had over 12 million in chips, Racener was lucky to have 1.5 million, Twaddle had just about 2.5 million, Alan "BodogAri" Engel was sitting on about 4 million, and Weiwen Liang had maybe 500k more than Ari.

When you look at these stacks it makes very little sense for Mark to even consider a chop, but he told me that with his tax bracket, if he took second place money, and could sign for less than 4th place, he would actually net another $10-$15k in earnings. When they discussed the chop 7 handed, his demand was second place money, keeping the Bracelet, and signing for 7th place. Seventh place was only $58k so his request was pretty much huge, but rightfully so. He had most of the players over a barrel after taking out the last three players and raking their chips.

Within the two minutes before the dinner break, Racener went out when he picked up AQ in the small blind. Reynolds limped with KT from the button, and Racener went all in for his last 1.5million or so. Twaddle folded, and Reynolds called. The flop brought an Ace, the turn gave Racener Aces up with a Q, but of course 3 outs for Reynolds, and as happened many times before, the J filled his broadway ending Raceners run. The last hand before the break saw everyone fold to Weiwen Liang and the players went to dinner, which lasted 50 minutes.

At this time, everyone went their separate ways for some chow and a little relaxation. I heard nothing of a chop even being considered, and I saw no one until about 2 minutes left in the break when they started coming back and hitting their seats.

Before the first card was dealt, Twaddle posed another propostion that he had obviously been thinking about during the break. He asked for the clock to be paused, and the Borgata refused. They had a tournament to run, and they have nothing to do with deals, nor do they want to so the Tournament Director said that they would continue the clock and deal cards. If they didn't finish before the next break, the cards would be mucked, the blinds would shift, and another set of cards would be dealt.

Twaddle said that he would sign for first place, and take $190k. That would leave Mark taking second place money, about 260k and signing for 4th. That left Ari and Weiwen deciding who would sign for second and third, and who would take what money. It was decided that Ari would sign for second and take 210k and Weiwen would sign for third and take 185k. The difference in money between Weiwen and Twaddle would be because of the taxes Twaddle would have to pay on $395k. At this point Mark had the most chips, Weiwen and Ari were pretty close, but Weiwen swore up and down that he had more, and Twaddle was the shorty.

Weiwen consulted a friend, as did Ari, and Twaddle said he had to make one phone call before he was sure. He got off the phone, the other two came back from the rail, and the deal was agreed to. Mark then said, well wait, I gotta have the bracelet. The bracelet was something the Borgata put together from a jeweler and had a valule of about $2,500. Twaddle objected as if to say, "C'mon man, throw me a bone", but Mark would not relent. He stated that without the bracelet, there was no deal. Twaddle agreed and they started to stand up. The staff at the Borg told them that it had to be played out. They were not part of any deal, nor were allowed to be, and said whoever went out in whichever place was where that player would sign for.

Mark had to be the next player out, and with all of his chips, he had to do a lot of dusting. So when the cards were dealt, he raised just about a million less than what Twaddle had, Twaddle would move all in, and then Reynolds would fold. Once Reynolds was covered, he moved all-in, Twaddle called, and Reynolds, who didn't expose his cards, would muck once the board came out. They did this all the way until Ari went out in third. And this is where the problem arose.

Ari was supposed to go out in Second, but he went out in third. Weiwen noticed this, and took opposition to it. They started quibling over that fact, until Weiwen took the sheet that they had written the deal on and tossed it in the air saying that there was in fact no deal now, and that he was going to play it out. Reynolds laughed, having already signed out for 4th and hence being credited for a $104k win, and told everyone that they had better figure it out. Ari made mention that he would give Weiwen another 5k or so to help cover the taxes and Weiwen kept saying "no, no deal, I had more chips than you."

They argued a bit more, and Twaddle suggested that they just switch places, where Ari would receive the cash that Weiwen was supposed to receive and vice versa. But Ari wanted Mark to help pay for the deal, getting another 5k from him in order to get it done. The Borgata staff was determined to continue the play, and deal cards, and after another 15 minutes or so, they had to bring security in to move the spectators (mostly friends of the players who kept adding their two cents) away from the area. Imagineably so, it got pretty heated but cooler heads prevailed, and the deal was sealed. Ari and Mark went back and forth a while about the 5k and Mark negotiated his way down to about $2500 back to Ari as a compromise. I didn't understand the full issue as they went in a different direction to discuss.

Really, when it all happened after Mark and Ari went out, I thought Weiwen was pulling a fast one, or working an angle. After all, he did stand to make second place money if he was adamant about not chopping. In the end it turned out just to be a miscommunication with Weiwen not really speaking a lot of english.

The players signed their chits, went to the cage where they were paid in cash. Weiwen asked for a check, and the other three came back to the tourney room and divided it up. There was close to 800k there with guards helping out with security. Because Twaddle was the official winner, I took a picture of him with the bracelet. He then gave it back to Mark and everyone said their good byes. Everyone was a class act, and it worked out in the end. I guess if Mark had a different circumstance with his tax bracket, things would have been different. I'm pretty sure that Twaddle had more interest in being credited for first place than the amount of money he was going to win. He was already guaranteed $104k and after that the win would be better for him and his stats as someone who is determined to be a pro.

He is a young kid, and actually lives about 10 minutes from me, although we've never met before, even though our conversations hinted that we both have played at some of the same local underground poker rooms.

I was pretty fried at that point, and really couldn't form an opinion on the value of that chop. I guess looking at it now it makes sense when you figure in the tax implications. There was another guy there talking about a federal form that he stated he usually carried with him that everyone could sign, get copies, and that would be the amounts they would be taxed on, regardless of the Casino reports. However, as Mark pointed out, he would have been unwilling to do so because there is a stipulation in there that if any of those guys didn't pay up, each of the others would be liable, and he wasn't ready to lay that trust out there. Mark was a pretty astute business person, probably in his 50's and said that he owned a couple of businesses.

I know him as a cash player at the Borg, but he had disappeared over the last year, which he stated was because of his business ventures taking time away from being able to play.

Well, thats the story as best as I can remember it. I recall being very disappointed in the posibility of a chop when they first agreed 4 handed. We had provided some really good coverage to that point, and I was looking forward to a big exciting finish. I decided that it was better off, after a request, to not report the chop on the live blog as to protect the client. But I also knew that the story was to interesting to not report it at all. So here it is. Leave your comments and questions, and if you think it was a fair deal or not.


RaisingCayne said...

Wow. Chops can get pretty wild when tax implications get involved too, geez. Hell I've struggled negotiating agreements on three figure home game prize pools, I struggle to imagine all the complexities around such a large amount to be settled. I understand how it could take hours to compromise.

Corron said...

so confused. You need a lawyer, accountant and bodyguard, to get paid.

Drizztdj said...

I make it a point not to get that far in a MTT so I don't have to bother with chopping up money.

Bayne_S said...

If no one is committing tax fraud then the issues aren't that complicated.

LuckTruck said...

I'm planning on committing tax fraud, I'll take more money and sign for first at any chance.. :-)