Poker Tournament Deal Making

How Much Are Your Chips Worth?


So lets say that you make it to the final table in a tournament. It could be a 5+1 Internet tournament, or a day long live game. There are six people left who have battled their way through hundreds of others, and people are getting tired. So a deal is proposed, lets end the game now and split the money. Great idea, save everyone some time so they can go out and celebrate or just get some sleep. The trick is, how should the money be split? And the answer is, in the way that gets you as much money as you can manage.

Lets take a look at an idealized scenario

6 Players left,
$1000 in the prize pool

Breakdown of Players
1st $ 400
2nd $ 250
3rd $ 150
4th $ 100
5th $ 65
6th $ 35

And Chips of
1 30%
2 25%
3 20%
4 10%
5 10%
6 5%

If a deal broke out players 1 and 2 should argue for a straight brake down based on percent. This will hurt the chip leader slightly, as he is getting less than first place money, but will probably be agreeable to 2nd and 3rd place. The reason that large stacks should always argue for a straight breakdown is that small stacks are worth more than their percentage. If the 6th place person took the deal he would get $50, but he is already gauranteed at least $35, and might get lucky enough to win it all. So the actual value of his stack is more than the $50. Because of this small stacks should always charge a premium to quit if someone proposes a deal. Since you are already gauranteed money, it is usually worth it to try and fight for a higher percentage if you have relatively few chips.

There are several mitigating factors you should take into account though. First who proposed that deal? If someone else proposed the deal you are bargaining from a position of strength. If you’re willing to say "Screw the deal" and play it out you can offer an ultimatium. You can make the players who have somewhere to be take a paycut in order to get done quickly. If you proposed the deal you must be careful of pushing too hard. Finally you should always consider your relative skill level against the people you are playing against. In the above scenario the even breakdown wasn’t a great deal for the short stack. But if he was a rank newbie at a final table with several pros, he may figure that his chances of getting more are slim, and that is the best deal he can obtain.


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