News: Poker Basics – Edge Based Final Table Deals

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We have covered ICM and Chip Chop, now what about final table deals that account for one player being better than the rest?

In our previous articles we looked at the ICM deal and the Chip Chop deal at final tables. Today let’s look at the final most common form of deal, which is one where a player’s edge is factored in. 

ICM deals and Chip Chop deals both assume all players have equal skill, which is probably representative of a lot of end game final table situations these days. The value of each player’s deal is based entirely on their stack. When one player can make a plausible argument they have an edge over the table they can negotiate a better-than-ICM deal for themselves. 

Let’s remind ourselves of our example final table from last time, including ICM and Chip Chop values:

Player Chips Potential Prize ICM Value Chip Chop Value
Amy 100,000 $200 $140.84 $154.25
Paul 70,000 $120 $123.80 $123
Sophie 50,000 $80 $108.96 $102
Tim 20,000 $50 $76.40 $70.75

And a reminder what the finishing distributions would be, with equal skill:

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Amy 41.7% 31.9% 20% 6.4%
Paul 29.2% 31.2% 27.5% 12.2%
Sophie 20.8% 25.4% 33.2% 20.6%
Tim 8.3% 11.6% 19.3% 60.8%

Now let’s assume that Amy has a 15% edge that she has successfully persuaded the rest of the table means she should get a better deal. Edges are small in MTTs at the high blind level end game stages and 15% really would be that which a professional can boast over her tablemates. 

Everyone is guaranteed $50 so remove 4 x $50 from the prize pool, leaving $250 to play for. Everyone would then accept a prize based on the same ratio they had in the ICM deal, but Amy would add 15% on top of her prize while everyone else took the hit on their own ICM prize. 

That gives Amy $154.66 in total, with a further $145.34 to be divvied up by the rest of the table before the $50 mincashes, which would look like this:

Player Chips Potential Prize (after min cashes) ICM remaining Deal with mincash
Amy 100,000 $150 $90.84 (+$50 mincash) $154.66
Paul 70,000 $70 $73.80 (+$50 mincash) $117.39
Sophie 50,000 $30 $58.96 (+$50 mincash) $103.74
Tim 20,000 0 $26.40 (+$50 mincash) $74.21

In reality edges are hard to determine and what usually happens is the skilled player proposes an amount they are happy with and the rest of the table see if they can also make it work for themselves too. In practice something a little more ad hoc would be proposed, like this:

Player Chips Deal
Amy 100,000 $155
Paul 70,000 $115
Sophie 50,000 $105
Tim 20,000 $75

When it comes to negotiating deals like this it is part art, part science and ultimately comes down to the utility of the money and if it is an amount each party is happy with.

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