Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Great Deal of Fun in WCOOP Finale

Fun stuff earlier tonight railing the final table of the World Championship of Online Poker Main Event on PokerStars, mainly because of the ongoing deal discussions that began even before play got going today with nine players left.

The $5,200 buy-in tournament drew 1,995 players which meant it came just five players shy of reaching the number needed to match the $10 million guarantee for the prize pool. A total of 243 players cashed in the sucker, but over half of the prize pool -- $5.446 million -- was still up for grabs with nine left.

During the minutes leading up to today’s restart, the table’s short stack, a Belgian going by “Coenaldinho7,” was proposing to everyone a hilarious nine-way chop in which (if I remember it correctly) each would take half a million, leaving the rest (nearly another milly) up top for the winner. No one even acknowledged that he was saying anything.

The deal requests continued from Coenaldinho7 thereafter, pretty much after each knockout, and finally with five left they got to talking seriously about the possibility. No deal happened then, but one finally did with four remaining -- you can read details over in the recap on the PokerStars blog.

Interestingly, once the deal was made both Coenaldinho7 and beertjes79 (also from Belgium) willingly gave up money to ensure the chop would happen. In fact, beertjes79 -- then the short stack among the four -- volunteered to give up over $50K (taking $800K). Coenaldinho7 meanwhile readily gave up about $27K to ensure a guaranteed payout of $1.1 million. Watching that made it easy to root for both of them going forward, and it was kind of amusing in the end to see Coenaldinho7 take it down to earn a $1.3 million score.

Have written here before many times about the sometimes fascinating psychology of final table deal-making and how it really becomes in many cases an extension of the game itself. As the WCOOP ME final table was progressing, I noticed talk reviving on Twitter about the WSOP and its draconian prohibition against final table deals (again).

The WSOP changes its line regarding this policy from time to time, and depending on who is addressing the subject and when, you’ll hear different explanations. Sometimes they say it has to do with regulations from Nevada Gaming, which doesn’t really make sense. Other times they’ll suggest not allowing deals protects the players, although that, too, seems counterintuitive, given that the policy forces deal-making “under the table” (so to speak).

Meawhile in the WSOP Conference Call last May it was suggested the policy actually has more to do with spectators and fans than with players. “The general public really doesn’t want to see skill-based games played that way,” explained WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “I can tell you ESPN producers and viewers [also] don’t want to see poker played that way,” he added, suggesting perhaps the prohibition has more to do with what ESPN wants than what the WSOP does.

But as we saw today -- and at many EPT Main Event final tables, too -- the deal-making can sometimes be as entertaining or even more so than the poker itself.

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