Turbo Tournament Strategy – Poker chop – ICM chop and chip chop

Poker Chips 442 Turbo Tournament Strategy   Poker chop   ICM chop and chip chopHopefully your dedication to turbo tournaments and the knowledge you gained from this turbo tournament strategy series propels you to several major final tables. It is very important you know about when and how to chop in a tournament.

Never ask for a chop

I cant stress this enough: NEVER ASK FOR A CHOP! Seriously just don’t. The reason is very simple: Who do you think a good players would start trying taking advantage of? The problem is not so much that one player would try take advantage of you, but if the whole table thinks like that you are in a lot of trouble.

When to accept a chop

Now that we establish that we will never ask for a chop, there will be situations when you should accept a chop. There are three questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do I need the money?
  • Am I the best player left?
  • Will I get a favorable deal?

If the money left to play will influence your decisions, you are probably better of with a chop. Ideally you have a healthy roll and don’t need to worry about winning this – ideally. But if you need the money make sure you follow my advice below on how to get a favorable deal.
Let me introduce the two most common chop methods and when to use them to your favor!

ICM chop

ICM chops are usually the fairest chops. The ICM chop does slightly favor shorter stacks though. The bigger your stack is the less inclined you should be to use ICM to chop. Let me walk you trough an example of an ICM chop.


There are 3 players left in a tournament
Player 1: 50 000
Player 2: 32 000
Player 3: 19 000

1. place: $ 22 000
2. place: $ 16 000
3. place: $ 12 000

We use the ICM poker calculator to determine the ICM stack value. Insert all values in the calculator and retrieve the ICM value.

icm chop Turbo Tournament Strategy   Poker chop   ICM chop and chip chop


Player 1: $ 18 328
Player 2: $ 16 704
Player 3: $ 14 968

Chip chop

Chip chop is a chop method where you simply take all the money left after giving everybody last place and distribute it in proportion to stack size. Chip chop are very good for big stacks, it massively favors big stacks to an extend where you could get more than first price. On the flip side, don’t ever chop according to chip chop if you are a short stack.

Warning: Sometimes chip chop is applied without giving everybody last place money. In that case a big stack can potentially get more than first place money!


Lets calculate the chip chop from the example above:

Total price pool after 3rd place: $ 14 000

Total chips: 101 000


Player 1: 50 000/101 000 * $ 14 000  + $ 12 000 = $ 18 931
Player 2: 32 000/101 000 * $ 14 000 + $ 12 000  = $ 16 436
Player 3: 19 000/101 000 * $ 14 000 + $ 12 000  = $ 14 633

Chop test run

I can highly suggest you to make some sample calculations and chops with some imaginary tournaments. Make sure you absolutely understand how it is done and where the numbers come from. The last thing you want is having to chop without having it done yourself.

Where do the numbers come from?

If you are chopping and have the tournament director get you the chop numbers, make sure you know how they are calculating those. Ideally you have an app or access to the internet to verify their numbers and chop method.
I know for example that poker stars always uses chip chop. Def make sure you know what method is used and verifiy the numbers!

Chop tricks

There are some tricks you can use to get some extra money out of a chop.

Money left to play

There are many situation where there is money left to play. In those situations you can make some extra money depending on where that money left to play is coming from. If you are a big stack, request that this money is taken out of the prize pool before you run a chip chop on the rest of the money. On the other hand if you are a short stack make sure that all money is chopped according to ICM and that each player gives a % back to the money left to play according to ICM.

Ask for more

You are hopefully the best player left, don’t be shy to ask for more. Make sure that you tell players, that you are only interested if you get a favorable deal. Make sure that players know that you are the best player left. This is a good spot to mention some of your bigger wins. If you can, tell people that you don’t have to chop, you are also willing to play it out and realizing your EV in that way. There are many situation where your opponents desperately want a deal and are willing to distribute heavily in your favor.

Asking for the most ridiculous

Even if you have no intention to chop and your opponent keeps asking, don’t be afraid to ask for something absolutely ridiculous! You never know if you get it. The other day a guy asked me in a 180 SNG if I wanted to chop. He was almost 2:1 in chips and a recreational player. I told him I chop if we chop it evenly. He agreed, and while I never expected him to agree to this – he actually did. If you don’t want to chop, don’t be afraid to ask for something ridiculous.

I hope I was able to show you some cool tricks when and how to chop in poker tournaments. All that is left is to actually get there… Check out my strategy series on turbo tournaments and good luck at the tables!

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  1. Golden Nugget Grand Series – Week 1 | VicArcher - October 16, 2013

    [...] Knowing what is a good or bad chop is essential if you are lucky to get to a final table. ICM Chop or Chip Chop? http://swisstard.com/turbo-tournament-strategy-icm-chop-chip-chop/ [...]

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