Quit while you’re ahead

As of this past holiday weekend, Landon Tice was leading Bill Perkins in the $200/$400 No-Limit Hold’em heads-up challenge. But also as of this holiday weekend, Landon Tice has surrendered, conceding the match to the high stakes amateur poker player.

It was an odd decision by the 22-year-old poker phenom who just three years ago was playing at the 2¢/4¢ tables online (I mean, even I played higher than that), but one that appears to be driven by his backers.

Last Tuesday, Tice lost $28,000 in a 337-hand session, but no matter, this is $200/$400, so those things happen. I would be devastated to lose $28,000 – I’m not happy that I have an “inexpensive” $500 roof repair tomorrow – but at these stakes, $28,000 is nothing. And besides, he was still up $63,720 4,907 hands into their 20,000-hand challenge. So all was well.

The handicap was too daunting

Apparently not, though. The problem for Tice was that simply winning was not going to be enough. To get Perkins to play against him, Tice paid Perkins 9 bb/100, meaning he had to win by $720,000 just to break even. So while Tice was doing great, he was “only” at a 3.25 bb/100 pace. Tice and his team may have felt like tripling that may have felt like too difficult a task, while at the same time worried about the risk of ruin against a surprisingly strong opponent in Perkins.

Plus, even if he kept winning, those 9 bb/100 would add up, so Tice would really be losing more and more money.

Reports are that Tice wanted to forge ahead, but most of the money on the line was actually invested by backers, so those who controlled the money controlled the decisions. In a short video on Twitter, Tice blamed himself, admitting that he didn’t take Perkins seriously enough. He didn’t put in the prep and study time, while Perkins did. Perkins himself said Tice probably wasn’t wrong in thinking it would be easy, but “a different Perkins showed up.”

Tice seems quite forlorn in the video, maybe out of embarrassment for quitting, maybe because it wasn’t his call (though we don’t know this for sure), or maybe because he is out a lot of money. In any case, he is probably being too hard on himself. It was a poker challenge, not some contest of one’s worth as a human being. As he said, he has learned a lot and will be a better poker player for it.

Fortunately for Tice, he does not have to pay Perkins the entire $720,000. According to their deal, it is 9 bb/100 for however many hands they play. It is still a lot, though. 9 bb is $3,600. Multiply that times 49.07 (the /100 part) and Tice is out $176,652, less what he won at the tables. He also owes Perkins an undisclosed side bet.

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