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The how, why & when
of split pots

Jan 20, 2004 12:38 AM

I know that you do not like it when I am negotiating a deal for a car or when we are in Mexico or someplace where the tradesmen like to bargain and haggle before they make a sale.

But honey, today I would like to talk to the folks about the Art of the Deal.

  If you play in poker tournaments you will be asked many times to split the prize pool or make a deal to restructure the distribution of the prize money among the players who make it to the final table.

There are many ways that you can consider this. If you would like a practical answer as to how to make a deal or split a prize pool, come to my email [email protected] with any question about how to best split a prize pool, and I will respond in a future column to your questions.

Honey, a lot of poker players want to gamble but they do not want to gamble crazy high when they cannot play good poker hands with expectations of winning the pots on the merits of their starting hands. And the amount of money involved is very large in relationship to the amount of the buy-in.

Why do I say it is crazy high?

Well think of it this way. Say for example that there are 200 players and that the buy-in is $1,000. And the pay-off structure to the final two tables is:

First place is $80,000 or 80-1 or 40%;

Second place is $40,000 or 40-1 or 20%;

Tenth place is only $6,000 or 6-1 or 3%;

And the second table is $2,000 each or 2-1 or 1%

When you begin the tournament you have plenty of chips to play with, in relationship to the small and big blinds.

Say you are given $1,000 in chips to begin play and the blinds are only $10 and $15. Now, in order to play one complete round and a possible 10 poker hands, your overhead is only 2.5% of your bankroll.

Thus, you can take a look at 40 possible hands to try to get one that you may think is a playable poker hand for a risk of only $100 or 10% of your chips.

You are in condition green and can play good poker for as long as you need to select good starting hands.

Now we will fast forward: you have been playing 10 hours, you are a little bit tired and the small blind is $1,200 and the big blind is $2,400, the antes are $400 or the overhead is about $800 per hand.

This condition makes your chips bleed away at the rate of $7,600 or almost 4% of $200,000, the total amount of chips in play. You are now in condition red and must play differently than if you plan to win the tournament.

  That is why Doyle Brunson, one of the greatest of the great players that I have played with in my lifetime, won the World Series of Poker with 10-2 off suit!

Let’s say that you have paid the second table $2,000 times 10 players. And that $180,000 remains in the prize pool for the final table.

But most of the money is structured to be paid off to the top three finishers, $80,000 for first $40,000 for second and down to $6,000 for tenth place, and all the players have about the same amount of chips to play with.

I am not saying that you will want to do this, but if you split the money 10 ways each, the players will receive $18,000 or more money than third place prize money.

So prudent, good poker players and businessmen will consider a restructure of the prize pool.

It is now a crapshoot; forget about the good play. The winner of the tournament won’t be the best player, but the luckiest player at that time.

  You may go broke if you play inferior hands, but you will for sure go broke soon if you do not play.

  If you cannot get a playable poker hands you will bleed to death at the rate of $800 per hand, and that will double to $1,600 per hand when the blinds go up with the next level.

Remember, at the start of the tournament you had plenty of time to play and select a hand and play good conservative poker because the overhead or cost per poker hand was so low.

At this point the tournament is nearly over and the luckiest player will now win, if that player has enough courage to put his chips into the pot and play showdown.

I always consider making a deal at the final table, when I can win as much as third place will pay if I were to finish third without a deal.

"Oklahoma Johnny" Poker Tip of the Week

  This tip comes to us from a great tournament poker player. A member in good standing of The Poker Players Hall of Fame of "The Seniors" World Championship of Poker, Robert Turner, the chip burner.

Bobby’s advice to me was when you are playing in a satellite and it is time to make a deal to gain an entry into a large tournament.

  "If it seems like a bad deal to you, make the deal anyway. And hope you made a mistake"

If you think you should be getting 60% of any money that you may win and you can get only 50%.

If you win in the tournament you will receive 50% of the payoff.

If you had not made the deal and lost the satellite in a crazy high showdown hand, you may get 100% of nothing.

Until next time remember to always stay lucky!