Poker World Freaks Over Heads-Up Tourney Surrender

Posted on: February 7, 2023, 06:33h. 

Last updated on: February 8, 2023, 01:58h.

Here’s one you don’t see every day. William Pinkerton – a heads-up player in a $400 buy-in tournament held last week at the Potomac Winter Poker Open at MGM National Harbor in Maryland – was down 6-to-1 to Jacob Mitich, with at least 10 big blinds left. That’s when he made a move that has the poker world scratching its collective head.

Jacob Mitich
Jacob Mitich poses with the pot that was literally handed to him during a tournament last week at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. (Image:

Instead of going all-in dark and taking his chances, Pinkerton – with 3.5 million chips to Mitich’s 19 million – just threw in the towel and collected $13,582, the pre-set second-place payday. Pinkerton – reportedly a flight-school student who plays poker just for fun – didn’t even negotiate for a “chop.” That deal could have netted him a few hundred dollars more.

According to, Pinkerton offered no reason for walking away after besting 273 other players in the no-limit tourney – other than just being happy with coming in second. Pinkerton’s $13,582 payday was almost $9K less than it would have been had he rallied to victory.

“Yeah, I definitely haven’t had that happen before,” Mitich told the website. “It was extremely odd.”

Poker Players Freak

When the news reached the larger poker world, fellow players had themselves an old-fashioned conniption.

“Wtf did I just read, the guy got to heads up and just gave up, didn’t even get a deal?” tweeted @TheAwwbrey.

Has anyone ever heard of someone just giving up in a tourney heads-up? Ever?” tweeted poker player Gene Engle, who speculated that Pinkerton may have had some reason to avoid the spotlight. “Winner takes photos, talks with staff, interviews, etc. 2nd gets cash quick and leaves. People have many reasons to use aliases. Banned, owe debts, etc.”

“Maybe he had somewhere to be, or a flight to catch?” added @yaboiijimothy. “There are only a few acceptable reasons why I could see someone giving up when head’s up.”

Why You Don’t Ever Do This

Tournament poker players know it’s never over until you lose your final chip. For instance, as pointed out, a 2021 heads-up match for $100K in PokerGO’s “High Stakes Duel” saw Phil Hellmuth pull it out over Daniel Negreanu after being down 96K-4K.

More importantly, Pinkerton had nothing at all to lose by continuing to play Mitich until the bitter end. Even if he lost all his chips, Pinkerton would still have collected the same second-place payday. (Poker tournaments are unlike home games in that the prizes are all predetermined.)

Pinkerton surrendered right after rivering a straight off an A-7 that sent Brett Butz – all-in with a pair of 9s – to the cashier’s cage in third place. This left Mitich with the top prize of $22,298, the best live cash of his poker career.

Mitich has experienced other moments of freakish good luck during his life. He was among a dozen wounded by bullets on Aug. 26, 2018, when David Katz, 24, opened fire after losing a Madden NFL tournament game in Jacksonville, Fla. Two other competitors were killed in the shooting.