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Poker Strategy | Advanced Poker

Poker deals

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If you have played a live card room tournament, especially a larger one where the prizes are worth fighting for, you might have seen that the players left on the final table often discuss “chopping” the prizes or making a “deal".

As is the case for most Multi-Table Tournaments, by the time it has reached the final table and the numbers are down to 5, 4 or 3 players, the play is dictated to a large extent by the blind sizes and the individual bravado of the participants. In other words, a good portion of luck and courage will likely dictate who receives 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.

In my last card room tournament, the first prize was £12,000 (about $22,000), with 2nd prize paying £6,000 (c. $11,000), 3rd prize £4,800 (c. $8,800) and 4th prize £3,200 (c. $5,800). With chip counts distributed about 30%, 30%, 25% and 15%, each participant will have it in the back of their mind that one poor move or unlucky turn of the card could be worth £6,000 or more in lost prizes. For someone paying £300 to enter the tournament, these sums could mean an awful lot.

Consequently, as in this tournament, discussions are sometimes had to see if all the players can agree on an allocation of the remaining prize money. Here, the remaining prizes added up to £26,000 which, on a chip-count basis would share out the prizes £7,800, £7,800, £6,500 and £3,900. The chip leaders argued for a bit more, while the player in third place just behind the chip leaders also wanted more.

One amusing episode occurred after a hand had been dealt. The players asked the fourth-placed player if he wanted to accept a deal. He replied he would wait a few hands. This first hand played out and he took the pot down with his pocket aces that he was holding at the time he was asked the question! All of a sudden, his negotiating position had improved.

One serious side effect of the culture of final table deal-making is the effect it has on the outcome of a game. In the game I have been talking about, no deal got done. However, had it been done, the players would no longer be making decisions under the same pressure as they would with money at stake. Yes, there is still the title of winner and perhaps a trophy for the mantelpiece but these are still not the same conditions. The outcome of the tournament is almost certainly irrevocably altered.

Another serious side effect is the increasing importance of player rankings. These are often sponsored by paying corporations so the integrity of the measurement of the rankings is fundamental if they are to be taken seriously by the players and the industry, particularly with TV money at stake. In Europe, and it may be so elsewhere, deals made by players are not necessarily being reflected in the rankings. The expectation is that the results of a deal should be the point at which the ranking points are allocated. It is all a bit hazy for now!

Deals happen at the very top of the profession too. The TV companies don’t like it on their shows but whether private deals are made behind the scenes, I have no idea!

So, if you are new to card rooms, be prepared for some haggling!


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