22August2017

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Should the deal be allowed in poker?

With the biggest tournament in history underway ‘The Big One’ for the One Drop charity an age-old question has been brought into the spotlight again, the deal. Here, we will look at it in more detail.

Growing up you would have heard the phrase “it is not the winning it is the taking part that counts," but if you carry this motto over to poker you will quickly end up broke. With this in mind, the deal, which offers two or more players something that they want seems to almost be the most anti-poker rule that was ever invented, which supports the taking part motto.

Let’s look at the super satellite to The Big One tournament as the most-recent example of a huge deal that suited both players, but took away from the excitement of what was shaping up to be a good heads-up game.

The final two players were Gus Hansen and Shaun Deeb, who are both well-known professionals. Both players were left to play for qualification to the big one (worth $1,000,000) or win $1,000,000 cash and be the first substitute for (which would be full when the winner of this tournament won their qualification).

As heads-up play started the players took an unscheduled break and came to the conclusion that a deal would suit them both. Hansen wanted a shot at the $18.3 million first prize in the big one and Deeb was happy with the $1,000,000 cash.

So when they returned to the table Shaun Deeb pushed all in minus one chip, and Hansen called as he had him covered. As soon as the flop hit the table Hansen pushed all in and Deeb folded leaving himself with one chip, which essentially knocked him out of the tournament as the one chip didn’t even cover the ante for the next hand.

Now to many people this seems like the players are being rewarded with what they want without actually winning. Hansen had won the tournament, but it didn’t really matter because they both got what they wanted so essentially they either both finished in second or first depending on how you look at things.

On the other hand, the variance in poker is so high that making a deal is the only way to guarantee that you get what when in the latter stages of a tournament. In the above situation, it suited the two remaining players at the table. Therefore, what is the real issue?  While it may have been a bit of an anti-climax, both players got what they wanted. Those watching didn’t pay $25,000 to enter the tournament, so they don’t really have a say in how it plays out.

The issue is that the deal environment is spreading to almost every MTT final table now. More players focus their time on trying to get a deal then winning the actual tournament and this kind of ruins the atmosphere. So, what’s the solution, you could make a deal and leave a decent amount to play for, but this still takes some of the excitement out of the final table, but at the moment it is the only solution.

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