First of all, dealmaking is free. If you pick up nothing but this much from the entire forthcoming article then you will still be infinitely better off: it is always free to look at the deal. You may or may not like the numbers of the deal itself, but you should at least give the numbers a peek – it’s free to see.

For the past 4 weeks (and the tally is still running) the weekly
Party Poker 300K has been derailed by bad deals or bad no-deals. And the big
PartyPoker weekly isn’t the only major tournament going astray in dealmaking mode; recent major tournaments at
PokerStars,
Full Tilt and
Titan Poker have all featured players bumbling with dealmaking.
So I’d like to take a look at the last 4 weeks of the Party Poker 300K and identify the mistake that was made each week and how to avoid such a mistake in your own dealmaking:

At Least Look:

July 27th

Here is an example of the most common problem in deals: failing to even look at one. I don’t know if it was because everyone at the final table had never been to that stage of a big tournament and were just freaked out or if there was some foolhardy arrogance going on, but over the course of the entire final table only one player ever even clicked yes to dealmaking (and that was a silly move too, as we’ll see.) I’m not saying to agree to a 10 player deal, but by the time the tournament is getting down to 3, 4 or maybe 5 people, you almost always owe it to yourself to at least look at a deal. I say “almost always” there because there are a few exceptions to that rule and it just so happens that one of those exceptions was the only person to say yes to a deal at the final table in question.

Percentage of Chips = Percentage of Pot: If you ever want to get a quick approximation of what the specific numbers of a deal are going to be, here’s how most sites generate their deal numbers: First, add up the stacks of everyone remaining in the tournament to get the total number of chips in play (you can also get this number by multiplying the original starting stack size for the tournament by the total number of entrants.) Then, divide your stack size by the total number of chips to get your percentage of chips in play. Then multiply that number by the total amount left to be paid out in the prize pool (you can find that number by going into the tournament lobby and clicking on prize pool or payout information or some such button depending on the specific site that you are on.) The resulting number is what Party Poker and most other major sites would initially be offering you should dealmaking be initiated. So if you are one of 2 players left in the Party Poker 300K and you’ve got 2.8 million of 7 million total chips then you have 40% of the chips (2.8 million / 7 million.) Since you are one of the last two in the PP 300K then there should be $99,000 remaining in the prize pool. $99,000 x 40% = about $39,500.

I you follow the above link, you’ll see that on July 27th player HeavyB111 entered Heads up play as the commanding chip leader with about 5.5 million of 7 million total chips (about 78% of the total chips.) Yet it was his opponent, slow_gherkin who attempted to initiate a deal. Knowing that the outright first prize was $66,000, HeavyB111 should have been elated to look at the deal as he would have been offered in the neighborhood of $77,000 (and what in God’s name was slow_gherkin thinking? Second prize was $33,000 yet he would have been in line for $22,000 or so.) Yet it was HeavyB111 who refused to even look, preferring to play it out. Of course, 63 hands and 4 monster suckouts later, HeavyB111 had completed the collapse and finished in second. Keep in mind that while you may have a significantly larger chip stack with the blinds as high as they get in the end of a tournament, violent swings in chips occur in almost every hand. Sometimes a deal can be in your favor just to avoid the cruelty of poker.

Unfortunately, it is the people who most need to heed the following who are most unlikely to heed it, but I’ll say it anyways:

Be real with yourself.

On July 6, 3rd place finisher wernitschg dumped a 4-way deal which ended up costing him about $3,000 because he felt that he could win the tournament. I don’t know what tournament he thought he was at, but the one that I had been watching had seen one player win about 50% of the total hands en route to developing a tremendous chip lead and that player was not wernitschg. I know that wernitschg thought that he could have won but, sorry, that was just stupid. When one guy is dominating, that guy is dominating for a reason. In poker, you have to determine if that reason is luck or skill. Regardless of whether or not you think that you are better, if a skilled player is a big chip leader, then you want to take any deal that gives you more money that you would get for an outright finish (so if you are 3rd in chips of the remaining players, you want to make more than the outright 3rd place finisher would get.) If the guy is winning out of pure dumb luck, then you can think about giving it a go.

The same thing happened the following week, when player, CanIWinWSOP made the same mistake as the past week’s werni. Listen you two, recognize what’s really going on around you and you will be better off.

The other side of being real with yourself, is giving yourself credit when you deserve it. July 20th saw a freeroll qualifier matriculate his way into the final 2. fud9990 “bought into” two freerolls to gain entry to the $215 weekly buy-in Party Poker tournament and made it all the way into the big money. The final two players entered dealmaking mode after a 23 hand Heads up session, in which fud9990 called his opponent down with nothing but a pair of twos for more than 2 million – not to mention the fact that fud9990 also won more hands Heads up. Yet when dealmaking mode was finally initiated, Mamanya was able to get about $3,000 more than what was put forward by
Party Poker itself by simply asking for more. fud9990 was so happy to be making $41,000 on what amounted to a freeroll that he agreed to the more experienced Mamanya’s request. But fud9990 should have looked at his big call and his majority of pots won Heads up and known that not only was it not in his best interest to give additional ground to Mamanya, it might have been in his best interest to play the tournament a little deeper. Which leads to the final point:

Small Pots are Big Swings: If you are far and away the best poker player remaining in a tournament and you have plenty of chips to futz around with, try playing a few hands and picking up some blinds before agreeing to a deal. If you pick up 3 consecutive blinds at 40,000/ 80,000 +3,000 ante, then you will have picked up about 200,000 chips. Picking up those 200,000 chips is really like picking up 2-3% of the total chips, which can easily become $2,000 – $3,000. Try to enter a deal on a little flourish so as to maximize your chip position.

I rarely favor playing a tournament to its outright finish. With blinds as big as they get and poker as cruel we all know it is, I’d take a $60,000 deal before I’d play it out to a $66,000 outright first almost any day of the week. We all want to win but you have to keep in mind that 7-2 off-suit beats pocket Aces about 10% of the time. Unless the money means nothing to you, it’s almost always in your best interest to arrive at a good deal rather than play it out until the end. And again, if you leave this article with nothing but the following then you will be infinitely better off:

It’s always free to look.

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