Everyone loves a chopped pot, but first, you have to notice it even happened. On a big stage, under lights and cameras, with serious pay jumps on the line, no one noticed a big one that led to a player being eliminated when he should not have been.
At the World Series of Poker Circuit stop in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, five players were left on the final table of the Main Event. They had each locked up €48,000 and were playing for the €171,800 up top. Pierre Kauert was all in and at risk, and he was dominated. Check out the clip of the runout. Hint: It’s a chop.
The river paired. Both players had the same two pair; jacks and sixes with an ace kicker. Only no one seems to realize that. One skilled dealer, five remaining players, the audience, the announcers, no one said a word. Pierre Kauert immediately hopped up, gave his handshakes, and accepted his early exit in fifth place. Only, it shouldn’t have happened. He should have had half the pot, about 1,110,000 chips, just under ten big blinds, and a dream. Instead, the remaining players locked up their pay jump.
Twitter realized the mistake fairly quickly and the above video was posted about 45 minutes after the bust out. At that point, it was too late to fix the hand in question. Still, an overwhelming sense of injustice began to develop in online poker communities.
The poker director of King’s Casino responded via a Facebook post addressing the situation. “It is something that happens very often…and is not talked about so much,” said Federico Brunato. “I would like to refer to one of the most important rules of poker – always read your hand…We are all humans and we all can make mistakes. I would like to refer to rule number 76 of WSOP which states: The right to dispute a hand ends when a new hand begins.”
By the book, Brunato may be right. Sure, Kauert should be diligent in knowing his hand. Obviously, the dealer made a mistake in a big spot, that happens. But, let’s be clear, there were multiple mistakes made that all added up to Kauert’s unwarranted elimination.
First, Kauert didn’t know he chopped the pot on the double-paired board. That’s a costly mistake he’s likely kicking himself for. Also though, talented as the dealer might be, though, she made a mistake that could have avoided the situation. If you watch the clip, you’ll see she never pushed forward the five-card hand that Lupo won the hand with. Had she done so, maybe she would have realized it was a chop. It’s Kauert’s confidence in his loss that seemed to alleviate the need to ensure the accuracy of the hand. At best, everyone at the table made a mistake at the same time on the same board. However, there’s a bigger concern in my mind.
Four other players at the table didn’t notice the error. Four other players, skilled poker players who know how to read a board. Four other players who just made €13,100 with the pay jump at Kauert’s expense. I’m not going so far as to say they realized and kept quiet, there’s no way to know. Only each of them knows if they chose to stay quiet when they shouldn’t have in that spot.
Groupthink is a real phenomenon. If everyone around you believes something to be true, it’s easy to go along with it, even if it goes against what our eyes see. Maye that’s what happened. But, it’s also in those moments that the bravest people make themselves known. If one person had spoken up at the table today, I wouldn’t be writing this article. Maybe I’d be writing about the one person that spoke up at his own expense and commending him for doing so.
Instead, there will always be an asterisk next to Pierre Kauert’s fifth-placed finish. Big final table spots don’t come around too often in most poker players’ careers. Variance in those spots can cause swings worth big money. This kind of variance shouldn’t happen.
We can all learn something from this. If you’re involved in the hand, double-check your cards and your hand, especially in big spots. If you’re a dealer, do the little things right always, and don’t assume something just because a player says so. And, if you’re a player at the table who stands to benefit from a mistake, speak up. You don’t want to win that way.