Even though I work in the poker industry, I have to admit that I have only played in a handful of live poker tournaments. That’s what living in a state without casinos will do for you. Plus, perhaps ironically, I’m not much of a gambler.

I’ve played in a few in Las Vegas, maybe for around $100 a pop when you take into account add-ons and what-not. I also played in the celebrity and media event twice at the World Series of Poker, but that didn’t feel like a real tournament. After all, in a real tournament, I wouldn’t leave the table to go introduce myself to Anthony Michael Hall and tell him that Weird Science is in my top five favorite movies.

My biggest score was for around $3,000 on a poker cruise when I finished third in a $100 re-buy tourney. I was the chip leader three-handed, but suffered a mild bad beat to see my stack crippled and went out a hand or two later. If one of the other players would have proposed a deal, I definitely would have listened. While I don’t remember the top two payouts, I assume that, as the chip leader at the time, I would’ve cashed for a decent chunk more than my final tally. A few thousand dollars was – and still is – I significant amount of money to me.

A two-or-three-handed final table deal is fairly commonplace in poker, whether it is officially recognized by the tournament organizer or just hand shake agreement between competitors. But a 29-player deal? That’s unheard of. At least until this past weekend.

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas hosted the MGM Eight GRAND Invitational, open to cash game players who hit a certain rake target during the qualifying period. There are also high hand qualifiers each day. $59,000 is tabbed for the final table, with $20,000 going to the winner (I’m not sure if that’s $59,000 to the final table other than the winner, as the website calls it an “$80,000 poker tournament, but no matter).

The first of four invitationals ran on Sunday, October 15, and in a situation that has to be unprecedented, the last 29 players agreed to a chop. A 29-way deal. Somehow, they were able to come to a consensus – if only they were all in Congress right now – agreeing to award the players with the top two chip stacks $3,691 each and the other 27 players $2,241.

That this is an invitational primarily based on how much someone rakes in cash games likely played a major part in the massive chop. Many of the players were likely participating only because it was free, so any halfway decent prize would be satisfying. And since they were cash game players, they probably were happy to stop playing in a tournament while also cashing.

I just want to know who the person was who first brought up the idea of such a huge chop. Did a friend dare them? Were they serious and taken by surprise when there was a positive response? Did they try it when there were 30+ players remaining?

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