Tuesday, May 04, 2010

On Deal-Making; or, Everybody Wants a SCOOP

Let's Make a DealAnother late one last night. Or this morning, I should say. Then I had to do some stuff at the “day job” where I have a few last tasks to perform over the next week or so. All of which means I’m one tired gumshoe at present. The schedule lightens up a little looking ahead, though, especially once I am finally, completely done with the other.

These first two long shifts of helping cover the Spring Championship of Online Poker over on PokerStars both ended with my witnessing some end-of-tourney final table deals, as frequently happens at these things. Can get a little tedious sometimes, especially if you’re there on the rail waiting for the sucker to end and more than 24 hours since yr last snooze.

Had fun yesterday tweeting a little back and forth with Jessica Welman while one deal was being discussed. She was also up late covering SCOOP (and FTOPS, too, I believe). I proposed they should start including the reporters in such deals. I said I thought I deserved a little extra cabbage, too! She said she thought she was probably too tired to negotiate properly.

Speaking of the negotiations, I wanted to share what seemed like a sharp contrast between two such deals -- one on Monday morning, the other from this a.m.

The Monday one came in one of the “High” buy-in events and involved three players. A damn lot of money on the table -- around $640,000 total. This trio actually made three different attempts at negotiating a settlement before finally coming to terms. Probably an hour total was spent on the process, as the tourney had to be manually paused each time, then calculations made, then the talk.

Since I had nothing better to do, I, too, did a few calculations while I watched. In one instance, one player had almost exactly half the chips in play (a tad over 49%), one about a third (34%), and the other about a sixth (17%). If I recall correctly, there was still a ton of play left in this one, as even the short stack had more than 60 BBs, I believe.

Here the short-stacked guy somewhat surprisingly proposed an even split of the remaining cash (leaving $20,000 left for which to play, as the tourney’s rules stipulated). Needless to say, the other two scoffed at that notion. But the short-stacked guy kept pressing the issue, trying to characterize their stacks as basically even, and also pointing out that he was a highly ranked online player (in a major poker publication) and so believed he had a significant edge over the other two.

Was interesting to see this line of argumentation taking place. I’ve seen it before, with fairly well known online guys using that status as a kind of bargaining chip when negotiating deals.

PokerStars Spring Championship of Online PokerAnyhow, that line wasn’t working here, and it wouldn’t be until much later -- when the formerly short-stacked guy had in fact taken over the chip lead -- that they were able to agree to a slightly modified “chip-chop” (i.e., dividing what was left to be determined from the remaining prize pool between them according to their current stack sizes, minus the $20K). The discussion was quite rancorous, in fact, with a few epithets thrown about by one of the players toward the other two. And when they seemed at an impasse over exactly $2,000 (of the $620,000 they had to divide), the whole thing did appear from the rail to be fairly unpleasant and perhaps a little absurd.

Contrast that with what I saw this morning at the end of one of the “Low” events. This was Event No. 3, the six-handed no-limit hold’em event with rebuys that cost only $5.50 to enter. There were four players remaining, each of whom had perhaps invested no more than $15-20 in the sucker, and there was about $107,000 left to be split among them.

Thanks to the 24,000-plus entrants and all of the rebuys/addons, there was something like 275 million chips in play. The blinds were up to 1 million/2 million (with a 250,000 ante), and all four players had between 60-80 million in their stacks.

Now I don’t know if any of these four were highly ranked online players, but I doubt it. More likely all were thrilled to be hitting such a huge score, which may well have been the biggest ever for each. Once the idea of making a deal was proposed, one player immediately suggested they just split $100K of the remaining money, leaving almost $7K for which to play.

All four immediately assented, recognizing perhaps the fact that despite all those chips they were actually all down to 30-40 BB, and that in fact even a 20-million chip difference didn’t amount to much.

Was fun to watch the deal go down so smoothly. As well as to see four clearly happy campers by that point, sort of giddy there some 18 hours after the tourney had begun and realizing they’d managed what was probably something like a 125,000% ROI.

I have no grand generalizations to add to this here comparison. I will say it wasn’t surprising to see the bigger prize pool appear to cause bigger headaches when it came to striking a deal. Could’ve also just been the personalities involved, though. If you’re curious, here’s the recap for the first (“High” one) and here’s the one for the second (the “Low” one).

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Blogger Conan776 said...

Reminds me of a guy who tried to negotiate a tough deal with Shaun Deeb. Of course, Deeb would have none of his shenanigans, replying "Do you know who I am? I'm Shaun F'ing Deeb!" Of course, Deeb ended up winning it.

5/06/2010 2:52 AM  

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