Chopping the Blinds
In a live cash game when every player has folded to the two blinds, most poker rooms allow those last two players to chop the blinds. If both players agree to chop, they take back their blinds and the hand ends with no rake removed. There are several reasons why players would agree to chop a pot.
- Chopping avoids the rake in a pot that will likely not be very consequential.
- It speeds up the game for all the players.
- It avoids a hand that will typically be played with a wide range of holdings, something players are not always used to.
- Some players don't like playing heads-up pots.
Since the chop is often initiated regardless of the cards, it creates a strategic advantage with a neighbor to occasionally avoid the blinds. Missing a blind is objectively an advantage, so many players always agree to chop. Technically though, if you are a better player than the other chopper, the advantage might be stronger to play a hand with them. However, that's not necessarily good poker etiquette.
The Unspoken Rules of Chopping
It's important to understand the etiquette behind chopping. Mainly, the decision to chop or not should be the same every hand, probably before even looking at the cards. You can't decide not to chop just because you were dealt aces. You also definitely shouldn't chop with certain players and not others, otherwise it looks like collusion.
The only reason to change your chopping policy would be due to a change in the number of players. It would be ridiculous to chop hands when heads-up, or even three-handed. A good number to switch your policy is usually 5 or 6 players. If you decide to stop chopping because the table is short-handed, it's important to let your neighbors know.
Some players will agree to chop or not if there is an active bad beat jackpot in that particular card room and if they have a potentially qualifying hand. They will chop and check down the entire hand as a way to try and hit it. Naturally, this approach (aside from being ridiculous) requires a little knowledge of the bad beat hands, the prerequisites to hit, and the hands you'd need to create it (since most Texas holdem bad beat jackpots require you to use both hole cards).
The Downside of Chopping
If you decide you aren't a chopping kinda player, there are a few reasons why chopping isn't that great either.
- If players don't change their chopping policy when it gets short-handed, it can hurt the game.
- Chopping lets tight players in the blinds off the hook.
- Chopping can create the idea that players at the table are soft playing or even colluding.
- Since it isn't necessarily a well-known poker nuance, chopping can confuse newer players or make them wonder what other rules they don't know.
- There is the concept that if somebody bothered to deal you cards, you should probably play poker with them.
So to chop or not, it's your call. Just make sure to be consistent and make sure both your neighbors at the table know what your policy is.
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