Rant: It's Time We Put an End to Deal-Making Nonsense

Possible deal
Deals really hammer the buzz, you know?

A poker writer is always on the lookout for a good story, so I was delighted at the beginning of January when I caught the social media hullabaloo over Simon Deadman’s score at the Genting Poker Series Leg 8 at Dusk till Dawn (DTD).

The World Poker Tour (WPT) National Series Dublin winner had picked up £70,000 in the £440 Main Event, and I had my headline:

Simon Deadman wins the Genting Poker Series Nottingham for £70,000

I duly wrote the article and decided to conclude with the final-table payouts. It was then I realised that Simon Deadman had not won the GPS at DTD. Instead, he was beaten in heads-up action by satellite qualifier Michael Richardson.

It seems there was a three-handed deal that saw Deadman take the lion's share of the cash and left a few shillings to be played for during heads-up, the trophy and the right to be named in my headline.

Tim Slater finished in third place for £42,500, Deadman finished in second place for £70,000 and Richardson finished in first place for £39,000.

Deadman definitely won at WPT Dublin.

The winner didn’t even get as much money as the player who finished third and received nearly half of what Deadman banked. I had to quickly change my headline:

Michael Richardson wins the Genting Poker Series Nottingham for £39,000

That doesn’t look right, does it?

Trophy or no trophy, Simon Deadman won this poker competition because he took home the bacon. And by bacon I mean all of the dough.

I have the opinion that a trophy and title only counts as bacon if the money comes with it. Even Richardson would be the first to admit that it’s slightly embarrassing to tell people that you "won" and yet the person you beat took home nearly 50% more Wonga than you.

It’s time we put an end to this nonsense once and for all.

Zimnan won when it counted.

Now That's What I Call Squeaky-Bum Time

Whilst I understand the mathematical reasons behind deal making on final tables, it just hammers the buzz for me. I can’t feel it. It’s blunted and dead.

I have been at enough final tables to feel the atmosphere go down the drain once a deal has been made. The phrase "anti-climax" doesn’t give some of those heads-up matches justice. "Paint" and "dry" come to mind.

There isn’t a game or sport in the world where the end of the tournament isn’t the most celebrated part and yet in poker this is exactly what happens.

When you allow deal-making to take place you rip the heart out of the contest. I remember watching the final three players duking it out at the European Poker Tour (EPT) in Loutraki back when Zimnan Ziyard took the title and it was exhilarating stuff.

What was the difference? Greek regulations meant it was very difficult for a deal to take place. There was €90,000 between third and second and €126,000 between second and first.

Now that’s what I call squeaky-bum time. That’s when boys become men.

An End to Phony Heads-Up Action

OK … so I know what I am asking for is never going to happen in a million years, so how about this instead?

The trophy
Make the deal, hand out the trophy and call it a day.

When Simon Deadman, Michael Richardson and Tim Slater sat down to make the deal and it was agreed that Deadman would take the most money, it should have also been agreed that he was the champion.

No phony heads-up action where the will to win is severely diminished; just make the deal, divide the money as per the negotiation, hand over the trophy, smile, say cheese and call it a day.

If the trophy and title means that much, then the deal is dropped and the poker community gets to see an enthralling final few hands with some serious money, pride and machismo at stake for the winner.

So that’s my rant. What’s your opinion?

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Tommy N. 2014-02-09 00:50:46

Here's my opinion: Your view is pathetic. You completely discount the competitive element in determining the moral winner and make it solely a matter of the prize awarded. To illustrate my point, comsider a tournament with no prizes at all. Just bragging rights. Would you say that this tournament has no winner? That everyone are equal losers? Now imagine Phil Ivey playing in this tournament and receiving a symbolic amount just for entering. Would you say that Phil Ivey is the winner of the tournament just because he is the only one that makes any money on it, even if he busts out first?

It's not that your opinion is uncommon - incidentally mine is practically unheard of. I've just had enough of this silly, irrational mentality in the poker community. You say braving the absolutely stupid variance in these tournaments is how to be a "real man." Bullshit. This is the same kind of thinking that informs the generally ridiculous payout structures of tournaments these days which make for variance that virtually no player will probably ever get evened out over their carreer. This is to a large degree turning poker tournaments into lotteries all because of that "final table feeling" you cherish so. This means you actually don't believe in poker players being rewarded according to their performance but rather just see them as marketing tools to embody the lottery effect that somehow is believed to be what attracts new players to poker.

We have a culture in the poker community that embraces the fact that in a given big field tournament someone that beats litterally 99.8% of a field can be awarded 10 times less for their performance than someone who beats an additional .2% of the field. As if this common view is not bad enough, you actually want to take away the players' ability to even out just a tiny fraction of this ridiculous variance - or they are not "real men." Pathetic.

PokerListings 2014-02-05 08:28:26

Hi MnW,

No comments were deleted by us but our comments function has been a bit buggy lately. Please continue to submit, apologies if one was lost!

MnW 2014-02-05 06:47:08

Is there a reason for deleting my earlier comment?
I didnt say anything offensive and it was on topic, dont really understand it.

MnW 2014-02-05 06:45:41

How come my comments always get deleted ? I didnt say anything offensive Ô.o

acesacesaces 2014-02-04 13:23:52

I get what you're saying but don't you think the players should have the right to decide how the money gets chopped up? I'm sure they all agreed to the deal in your example and at the end of the day they're not playing for the media, they're playing for the money.

acesacesaces 2014-02-04 13:23:48

I get what you're saying but don't you think the players should have the right to decide how the money gets chopped up? I'm sure they all agreed to the deal in your example and at the end of the day they're not playing for the media, they're playing for the money.

MnW 2014-02-03 08:08:16

I think the tournament officials should decide whether or not they allow deals to be made.
Online or even in smallish buy-in events i think they should allow deals, since nobody but the people playing care anyways. In a big media-covered event youre definitely taking the fun out for the viewers at a time that should be the most exciting part of a tournament, i agree with you there.

But either way giving the title to the player who gets the most $$ out of the deal seems logical and fair to me.


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