Now that you’ve seen exactly why you should always be kind to Lady Luck, let’s take a detailed look at one of the crucial aspects of professional multi-table tournament (MTT) play, namely … “the art of the WSOP final table deal.” Making a bad deal in big MTTs can be a huge mistake, and in the case of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) November Nine, a bad deal decision could cost well over $200,000! Making an optimal deal at the final table of any MTT is very complex and usually not possible without a computer. This is why I’ve created a Final-Table Deals Calculator for all of you, which allows you to run the numbers before you battle it out at your live and online Texas Holdem poker tables. Using this calculator in connection with the tournament equity calculator, you can negotiate an optimal deal based on your relative stack size and assumed edge.

2011 November Nine WSOP Final Table Deal, “M” and Nash-Equilibria Analyses:

WSOP 2011: Final-Table Deals Analysis and Nash-Equilibrium Solution

The file above is a PDF of the Deals Calculator created specifically for the 2011 WSOP final table. In the future, I’ll publish a video on how to use the calculator itself, but for our purposes here, it’s only important that you understand the principle of deal-making so that you can play optimally … even if you’re unfamiliar with all of the (often unnecessary) details. As an added bonus, on pages 3-6 I’ve included the Nash-Equilibrium” push/call (all-in)/over-call (all-in) solution for your review. This illustrates all of the players’ open-push and calling ranges (expressed as a percentage of all Texas Hold ’em hands) if the players were forced into “jam/fold” mode for the remainder of the tournament. In order to become an expert tournament player, you must understand these so-called “Nash pushes,” which become absolutely crucial toward the end of every tournament and also any time your stack size drops below ~15 big blinds in general. Before we continue, have a quick look at this recap of the November Nine’s respective stack distributions and “M”:

2011 WSOP Final Table Stack Sizes Stack % BBs “M” ~Payout per Place
Martin Staszko 40,175,000 19.51% 66.96 25.51 $8,711,956.0
Eoghan O’Dea 33,925,000 16.47% 56.54 21.54 $5,430,928.0
Matt Giannetti 24,750,000 12.02% 41.25 15.71 $4,019,635.0
Phil Collins 23,875,000 11.59% 39.79 15.16 $3,011,661.0
Ben Lamb 20,875,000 10.14% 34.79 13.25 $2,268,909.0
Badih Bounahra 19,700,000 9.57% 32.83 12.51 $1,720,396.0
Pius Heinz 16,425,000 7.98% 27.38 10.43 $1,313,851.0
Anton Makiievskyi 13,825,000 6.71% 23.04 8.78 $1,009,910.0
Sam Holden 12,375,000 6.01% 20.63 7.86 $782,115.0

Concerning final-table deals, there are basically two approaches that are commonly used today (for the details on how these systems are calculated and a few comparisons, see the links below).:

  1. Chip-Proportional Deal (CPD)
  2. Independent Chip Model (ICM) Deal

Of course, other variants also exist: the most common would be a so-called “partial chop” such as agreeing on a minimum payout for the next player who busts out then playing it out for the remainder. In the case of this year’s WSOP Main Event, instead of $782,115.0 for 9th place, the players could agree to a minimum of $1M and then play on for the rest with the respective percentage payouts detailed in the following table (“% of the Final Table Prize Pool”). However, as is also often the case with such top-heavy payouts, you’ll rarely see a deal go through until there are only 5 players remaining. In brick-and-mortar casinos, depending on the amount of players left, you’ll often come across deals that offer a fixed sum for every player followed by a 70/30% split for 1st and 2nd or simply winner-take-all. In the latter case, if you happen to be among the short/middle stacks, make sure they’re promising you a payout equal to or greater than an ICM deal! The list of potential deals you could propose or be offered is almost endless, but here’s all that you really need to know to ensure that you’re not selling yourself short:

  1. A CPD favors the chip-leader, and occasionally (depending on the stack distributions) also the 2nd- and 3rd-place players.
  2. An ICM deal is by far the fairest for all players, although this system is not perfect (i.e. distance from the blinds and skill differences are not considered).
  3. Given even skill, your chances of winning the tournament are approximately equal to your stack size divided by the total amount of chips left in circulation. In the case of the 2011 WSOP November Nine, this would equate to the “Stack %” in the table above: i.e. the current chip leader would only win 1 time in 5 on average. However, it seems that a few of the other players remaining this year are markedly better than he is, so I wouldn’t assume “equal skill” here. Always keep your respective “edge” in mind when deciding on a deal.
  4. Conclusion: Propose a CPD if your stack is the largest or close to it, and insist on an ICM deal if you’re in 3rd place or lower.

So what does this mean for our November Nine? The file above gives you all the details, so I’ll just cover the highlights here:

2011 WSOP Main Event Final Table Prize Pool % TRNY Prize Pool % Final Table Prize Pool
1 $8,711,956.0 13.500% 30.169%
2 $5,430,928.0 8.416% 18.807%
3 $4,019,635.0 6.229% 13.920%
4 $3,011,661.0 4.667% 10.429%
5 $2,268,909.0 3.516% 7.857%
6 $1,720,396.0 2.666% 5.958%
7 $1,313,851.0 2.036% 4.550%
8 $1,009,910.0 1.565% 3.497%
9 $782,115.0 1.212% 2.708%
10 $607,882.0 0.942% 2.105%
Total $28,877,243.0 44.75% 100.00%

The first thing to note here is of course, as is almost always the case with tournaments of this size, that almost 45% of the entire prize pool is reserved for the final table, and the top 4 places receive ~33%! If no deal is made, without including the accumulated interest for the November Nine total prize pool, the ultimate winner of this year’s main event will walk away with ~US$8.7 million: i.e. ~30% of the final-table payout and 13.5% of all of the money invested by the players in this tournament … which amounted to ~$64 million! But as you are now all well aware, the respective stack sizes do not correlate 1-to-1 with the respective monetary expected value (mEV). So if the remaining players do decide to make a deal, they should be aware that a CPD only favors Staszko and O’Dea … in the tune of almost $1M and $277K respectively:

Chip-Proportional Deal (CPD) Independent Chip Model Deal (ICM) CPD vs ICM $$$ Difference CPD vs ICM Buy-In Difference
$5,374,044.97 $4,379,695.90 $994,349.08 99.43
$3,932,017.73 $3,654,491.87 $277,525.87 27.75
$3,190,245.56 $3,193,047.19 -$2,801.63 -0.28
$3,068,462.07 $3,109,631.80 -$41,169.73 -4.12
$2,885,786.84 $2,979,802.79 -$94,015.95 -9.40
$2,625,613.01 $2,784,230.34 -$158,617.33 -15.86
$2,415,259.71 $2,615,893.35 -$200,633.64 -20.06
$1,911,518.91 $2,168,387.71 -$256,868.80 -25.69
$1,753,753.93 $2,012,932.60 -$259,178.67 -25.92
$1,720,540.25 $1,979,129.49 -$258,589.24 -25.86

In the following blog, I’ll conclude this series on the 2011 WSOP Main Event by covering so-called “bubble factors” and multiple strategies available to the November Nine for the upcoming final-table battle of their lives. All the best, Dylan

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