EPT11 Prague: You hear the one about the seven-way chop?
The asterisk in poker, particularly in tournament reporting, has a very specific role. When you see one beside a couple of players' names at the top of a results list, you don't really even need to flash to the bottom of the page to read the key -- "*denotes two-way deal" it will say, or something like that. You know that.
But during the EPT Prague Poker Festival in the Czech capital this week, it seemed that the prize pool from one tournament in particular came with an abundance of asterisks. No fewer than seven appeared alongside players' names in the official results list from the €2,000 Eureka Prague High Roller event, representing a seven-way chop.
Louis Salter won it, beating Dan Shak and Eugene Katchalov into second and third. Benjamin Pollack and Ari Engel were fifth and sixth. But with such a glittering array of players and Katchalov, in particular, with reason to play on -- he won the same event in Vienna, and would have loved a repeat victory -- it seems strange that they wouldn't play it out. How so?
We caught up with Katchalov this morning, as he sat down for Day 2 of the Main Event. Here's the official explanation of how the Eureka high roller ended in a seven-way split.
"It was 2am or something and we were seven handed for at least two hours at that time," Katchalov said. "We were really deep and there were no real short stacks. We figured it was going to take another seven or eight hours to finish, at least.
"We were trying to figure out a good time to finish it. Everybody wanted to play the main event, obviously, so we were debating maybe all late-regging the main event. But that's not really a great option, and everybody would have had to come back at, like, 11 in the morning yesterday, play until 7 or 8pm and then register late for the main. That didn't seem like a great option, so then we were like, 'OK, this is just kind of silly.' Nobody really wanted to play really late, so we started discussing possible chops.
"[If one player had wanted to play on] yeah, we would have had to play. A seven-way chop is obviously very hard to achieve, I think, but specifically here, in this situation where everybody wanted to play the main and everyone wanted to get a good night's sleep, and there were no soft spots on the table -- it wasn't like there was anyone on the table just giving it away -- it was just a slow grind and I don't think anybody really wanted to do it. Once we chopped, everyone got somewhere around third place money, and everyone was happy with that.
"We didn't even actually play on. We just stopped. The money we got was based on the chip counts.
"That was the biggest number of players I've ever chopped with. It's something that you wouldn't expect to ever work out, but it was just a very unique situation because there was the main event coming up the next day and everyone had the same interests. Everyone wanted to play it and be focused on it.
"It was a good decision. Everyone was happy with it. Obviously for me it would have been cool to play for the trophy and everything, because I won the same event in Vienna. So it would have been nice to play. So I kind of considered it, but then I was like, 'Another eight hours?' I couldn't figure out a time when I wanted to play it and I wasn't willing to sacrifice a full day of the main event, day one, by killing myself playing the whole night."
So there you have it, from the horse's mouth. Here's how they did finally split the prize pool, with original prize in brackets. And there's much more from all the side events at the EPT Prague Poker Festival on the side events page.
Event #18, €2k Eureka Prague High Roller
Places paid: 87
1. Louis Salter (United Kingdom) € 124,560*
2. Dan Shak (United States) € 143,610 € 103,530*
3. Eugene Katchalov (Ukraine) Team PokerStars Pro € 102,760 € 99,555*
4. Benjamin Pollak (France) € 79,510 € 76,000*
5. Ari Engel (United States) € 62,650 € 93,785*
6. Owain Carey (United Kingdom) € 49,030 € 102,400*
7. Dmitry Ivanov (Russia) € 36,260 € 104,700*
8. Michael Aron (United States) € 24,940
9. Jason Wheeler (United States) € 19,660
* denotes seven-way deal
Follow all the action from the Main Event on the Main Event page. There's hand-by-hand updates and chip counts in the panel at the top of the page and feature pieces below. Also, EPT Live is up and running. Follow the action at PokerStars.tv. It's Saturday!