What is making a “Deal” in poker?

What is making a "Deal" in poker?

Within the poker environment, each tournament is full of emotions, strategies, and decisions that can instantly change a player’s destiny. From the first hands to the final table, players face a constant challenge to dominate their opponents and advance in the competition. However, when the tournament approaches its final stages, and only a few players remain, an interesting dynamic emerges that can transform the end of the game: the “Deal” between the finalists.

What is a Deal in Poker?

Making deals is a crucial skill in tournament poker, especially when reaching the final table. This involves the remaining players at the final table “agreeing” to stop play and split the money among themselves rather than continuing to compete until the end. This practice offers a more equitable distribution of prizes than the standard tournament payout structure, where first place generally receives a significantly larger amount than everyone else.

For example, in a typical tournament, the first-place winner might receive twice as much as second place and four times as much as fourth place. Final table settlements allow players to mitigate the risk of losing and ensure a fairer and more balanced payout.

Negotiate a pact at the end of a tournament

The deal can be made at any time during the tournament’s final table. For example, in a 6-max tournament, trading can begin when 6 players remain, while in a full-ring tournament, it can begin when 9 players remain. In many cases, the prize distribution (agreed upon by the players) often leaves at least 2.5% of the initial pot guaranteed for the tournament winner.

Negotiation process

Each poker room has its own negotiation systems and agreements. For example, in some online rooms, when you can make an agreement, a box called “Agreement”, or “Deal” usually appears in the corner of the screen. To start the negotiation, all remaining players must check this box. If anyone does not do so, the option will not be enabled.

During the negotiation, the tournament pauses, and the players have a certain amount of time to reach an agreement (generally, it is about 15 to 20 minutes). If no agreement is reached within that time, the tournament automatically resumes with the original prize structure. 

The mediator

In many cases, a mediator is appointed to manage the negotiation. This mediator is generally the player with the largest stack at the beginning of the negotiation phase. However, this role can be assigned to another player.

The mediator usually proposes a distribution of the accumulated pot, which the players can accept, reject, or restart the negotiation. Generally, each player expresses his or her opinion through the platform’s chat or communication system. Sometimes, the agreement can be broken if a player abandons the negotiation, resuming the tournament with the original prize structure.

Conclusion of the Pact

The pact is finalized when all players accept the offer proposed by the mediator. Players immediately receive the agreed amount, and the tournament resumes, reserving a percentage of the initially guaranteed pot for the tournament winner.

Curiosities about the Deals

Deals have a long history in poker. Even in the early World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournaments, there were informal agreements between players, showing that the practice of making “deals” is as old as the tournaments themselves.

Accepting a Poker Deal can be a difficult decision. Some players see this type of agreement as a sign of weakness, while others see it as a smart way to collaborate between tournament participants and ensure profits.

In some countries and cultures, making a Deal is seen positively and is almost a “norm” at the final tables. On the other hand, in other countries or environments, it may be a less common or even discouraging practice.

What do you think about this topic? Have you had the opportunity to participate in a Deal?

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