“When I was younger I would never chop” – Faraz Jaka on making deals and looking weak

Posted on: March 23, 2023 24:12 PDT

Poker tournaments come with a huge amount of variance so when you make a big final table you want to make the most of it. 

Does that mean turning your back on deals and going for the win if you think you have an edge? Or does it mean accepting that variance is high and that these occasions are pretty rare, so doing a deal is the best thing for your bankroll? 

There are opposing views in the poker world. 

Nathan “BlackRain” Williams is a poker coach who thinks you should always go for the win unless you’re playing for life-changing money.

He tweeted recently saying, “Don't accept a deal at the final table of a tournament unless you are literally playing for life changing money. You're the best player at the table right? Prove it by winning the tournament outright.”

This isn’t just chest-thumping stuff. There’s a school of thought that doing deals gives your opponents a psychological edge they can potentially exploit. You’re exposing a weakness by not wanting to play for the win. 

Chop? Do what is best for your poker bankroll

Faraz Jaka doesn’t subscribe to this school of thought.  He responded to the tweet by saying, “Disagree with his take. Here’s how I’d approach whether or not to take a deal at a final table.

"Let’s say you’re heads-up playing for $280k more & even chips. Ask yourself: With my current bankroll including today’s payday so far, would I play this person heads-up for $140k each?”

PokerOrg's Sarah Herring caught up with Jaka recently and continued the conversation. 

“When I was younger in my career I would never chop,” Jaka said. “I was very proud of it and I definitely felt like it maybe gave me a psychological advantage over my opponents.

“But, first of all no one’s really keeping track of who chops and who doesn’t chop.

“And how often do you end up at a final table against someone who knows that you chop? It’s so rare that I wouldn’t base it on that."

“You could also be the player who never brings up the idea of chopping while still being open to a chop, so that means you can keep that psychological dominance.

“Here’s the thing, though. You’re playing for millions of dollars, or for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Being able to realise your equity in those spots gives you a bankroll boost, allows you to play bigger, allows you to have more comfort. 

"That’s important.

"The majority of poker players who don’t survive in this profession is due to bankroll management and not being able to take the swings. 

“No one is not making it in this game because they have a reputation for chopping and getting run over [because of this] at the few final tables they make per year.”

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