Ever seen the crowd dictate the terms of a deal at a big buy-in poker tournament? I just did.
After a rash of eliminations in the first two hours of the day, play slowed down considerably for the next two. With not much change in the chip counts between Daniele Nestola (3,640,000), Gasperino Loiacano (2,705,000) and Carlos Ibarra (940,000), Nestola brought up the possibility of a chop.
These things happen all the time, of course. Players smooth out the payouts at the top as the blinds increase and the skill portion of the game is diminished.
Ibarra and Loiacano were both receptive to the idea. The floor supervisor paused the clock so that the three remaining players could structure their deal. Pens and paper were produced. Chips were counted. Someone even secured a calculator to do all the heavy lifting on the math. We seemed moments away from an orderly conclusion to the Grand Final.
Nestola's suggested a straight chip chop. While nice in theory, that's generally not the way these things are done on the LAPT. The floor reminded the players as such. They could do a chip chop but they needed to leave something aside for the champion besides the trophy.
Loiacano suggested that BRL 100,000 should be the champion's bonus and the rest should be chopped evenly (about BRL 196,000 each, or roughly halfway between 3rd and 2nd place money). Nestola was aghast.
"I am the chip leader, I should be the champion," he said.
Loicano wrinkled his nose in disgust and waved his hands. Ibarra kept scribbling numbers down on his pad without saying a word.
And that's when the two dozen or so people on the rail, most of whom were there to support Loiacano, got involved. Despite the negotiation only having taken about three or four minutes to that point, they all began loudly shouting.
"Vamo! Vamo! Vamo!" If Loiacano couldn't get the chop he asked for, then they wanted to see the thing played out without any chop at all.
Nestola surrendered. Ibarra threw his pad and pen back to the rail. And the dealer resumed pitching the cards. No deal.
Less than 10 minutes later Loiacano and Ibarra were in the blinds. Loiacano raised pre-flop and Ibarra called. Ibarra stepped right into a big ol' bear trap when he shoved a king-high flop, K♣5♥Q♦, after Loiacano checked. Loiacano snap-called with A♠K♥, top pair, top kicker. Ibarra showed about as big an airball as you possibly can in this spot, 7♣8♦. One card later he was drawing dead and eliminated in 3rd place.
"Who's the chip leader now!" Vincenzo Giannelli shouted from the rail.
As it turned out, it was still Nestola (4.5 million to 2.8 million). He and Loiacano huddled away from the table to again talk about a deal. Despite maintaining the chip lead, Nestola quickly agreed to split BRL 500,000 down the middle and to leave BRL 39,300 for the winner.
This time, the rail didn't mind at all.