How to Make a Deal at the Final Table
Tournament poker is a marathon, and the winner takes the biggest prize in it. On course of tens of hours, players compete hand after a hand. In those rare moments when they manage to get to the final table, the main quality turns out to be not poker, but negotiations skill.
A subtle art of making a deal at the final table
Skill of having negotiations about the prize money at the final table is another form of art that is a little different from professional poker play. Some players might argue that a skill needed for value extraction in the hand or going for the bluff is no different from the ability to get yourself the bigger part of the prize fund in the deal. On practice, almost half of the online and live tournaments ends with a deal at the final table (most of them – in heads-up). Therefore, skill of making a deal at the final table is an important one in the range of a good winning player.
Why to make a deal?
As a rule, deals at the final tables are made to minimize the factor of luck when prize money are big prize money. Opponents who were playing in the tournament for quite a long time don’t want the fate of prize money and its big page jumps was defined by some cooler or bad beat. Therefore, a deal at the final table is some sort of an insurance from the huge losses.
How to make a deal?
There are 2 deal models: one is based on the number of chips and the other one is ICM-based. Let’s analyze each of these models.
In this deal, every chip gets its nominal price. Let’s have a look at the example
Total number of chips — 1.000.000. Prize fund — $10.000. Each chips estimated cost = $0.01
There are 4 players in the game. The prize money is distributed in the following way:
Let’s say, stacks of the players are distributed as follows:
Player 1 = 330.000
Player 2 = 250.000
Player 3 = 210.000
Player 4 = 210.000
Then prize money is distributed like this:
The method of making a deal on the number of chips is simple; one just has to give a chip a certain value. Actually, this method has a huge disadvantage. Just imagine that someone of the players managed to get a huge edge on the number of chips. Then prize money would have been distributed like this:
Player 1 = 510.000 = $5.100
Player 2 = 220.000 = $2.200
Player 3 = 190.000 = $1.900
Player 4 = 80.000 = $800
So the player with the biggest number of chips would have gotten the bigger prize than he would have gotten for taking the first place. The rest of the players would have gotten less than it was guaranteed.
Such deals tend to have place every now and then, mostly online as the winner is able to get more than 1st place would have gotten.
ICM Model (“Independent Chips Model”)
In most cases, players ask for ICM payouts. ICM is not just a model of making a deal at the final table. This is a theoretical concept, according to which the cost of a chip varies in different periods of tournament. While counting ICM deal, chances of every player for getting to a certain place (based on the stack sizes) are taken into consideration.
ICM allows making a more fair deal that allows avoiding obvious problems, like when you make a deal on chips. ICM deals guarantee players wouldn’t get less than guaranteed for the prize place and more than one has to receive for the first place.
Let’s recall the first example (Prize money: $4.000, $2.500, $2.200, $1.300)
For the same stacks, ICM payouts will be the same:
Player 1 = 330.000 = $2.740
Player 2 = 250.000 = $2.512
Player 3 = 210.000 = $2.374
Player 4 = 210.000 = $2.374
Let’s have a look at the second example with chips advantage:
Player 1 = 510.000 = $3.178
Player 2 = 220.000 = $2.534
Player 3 = 190.000 = $2.434
Player 4 = 80.000 = $1.854
That way, chip amount deal is a good fit for big stacks and is good for small stacks. ICM deals are good for short stacks and less profitable for big ones.
How does final table deal occur?
If you are starting to discuss deals, players ask tournament manager to stop the time. Then, judging on the status of the game, stacks depth, players figure out their own options on dealing prize money. In most cases, players ask tournament manager count ICM prize money for them. Then they round up the money, agree or disagree in the conditions, and tournament ends (if cup also gets dealt). As a rule, players leave the cup and the part of the prize fund to be decided in the further game, and tournament goes on.
Why you should make a deal?
1. Being Tired. Tournament poker is a marathon. Oftentimes players are interested in ending up the game as soon as possible. This is one of the most obvious reasons for making a deal.
2. Experience. If you are a rookie, and a qualified specialist plays against you, there is no reason to keep playing. Just beware so that a more experienced player wouldn’t get too much in result of the deal. Pay attention to the stack and blinds sizes.
3. Tournament is now an all-in fest. Turbo tournaments have player’s stacks at the final table of no more than 7 big blinds. With being that deep, poker turns out to be a lottery, so there is no sense in giving the prize money to the hands of Lady Luck.
4. You are short stack. Short stack play is interested in making a deal at the final table, as it is an opportunity to win more than he is guaranteed.
Why you shouldn’t make a deal?
1. If you are a chip leader, you have an advantage on chips, so there is no point in pushing “Deal” button earlier than the others.
2. Is stacks are deep and allow doing active moves, i.e. the game is not in its push-fold stage, there is a point in turn down final table deals.
3. You feel you have an edge in the game
Some pros never make deals: they don’t feel money pressure, or overconfident in their skill. The others, on the opposite, are inclined to making deals at the final table if they’re offered a deal. Poker players have some sort of superstition even – they one who refuses to make a deal gets out of the tournament first.
Just remember: to make or not to make a deal – is a personal choice of every player. If you are not ready to make a deal here and now, offer the opponents playing several more hands.
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