Making a Good Deal in Poker Tournaments

In the current day and age of big poker tournaments deal making has become more and more important. Because prize pools have become so large, and players have become much more aggressive, the end game has become a crap shoot for a LOT of money. A smart player knows how to recognize a good deal so they can get maximum value out of their tournament position. Even if you are more skilled than your opponent, and have more chips, it may be sensible to make a deal based on the blinds, stack sizes, and tournament structure.

The main reason a player would want to make a deal is because tournaments are so top heavy. What this means is that first place gets so much more than second, who gets so much more than third, who gets so much more than fourth, and so on. When you reach the final 5 or so players, there is a ton of money up for grabs, and a lot of luck involved. Even the most skilled player is not going to win at every final table he/she reaches, so sometimes it makes sense to take a deal. We'll discuss when it makes sense, and how to recognize a good deal when it comes up.

Stack Size in Relation to Deal Making

Poker Deal MakingTournaments nowadays have a million different structures, and structure is very important when you're determining if you should make a deal or not. The worse the structure, the more sense it makes to take a deal.

What I mean by this is if blinds are very high, and raise at a quick pace, you are more likely to end up in a crap shoot where each player only has a few blinds, and the winner will be determined by luck rather than skill. If you feel like you're more skilled than your opponents, this is not an ideal situation.

When you get into this situation, there are a few methods you can use to get the best deal possible. First of all, if you are the chip leader, suggest a deal based on chip stacks. Alternatively, if you are low on chips, make sure to point out that a deal based on chip size isn't fair, because the big stack is going to get basically first place money without having to play it out.

The goal here is to force your opponents to give you the best deal by making sure you express that every deal they propose is unfair, until you get the deal you want.

Be Reluctant to Chop

In the ideal situation that someone else suggests a deal, make sure you reveal all the reasons why a deal is unfair to you. The first reason would be if you are a low stack. Make sure you point out that the top two players are going to get first and second place money without playing out the tournament, while you would be settling for third or fourth place money when you could easily double up a few times and be chip leader.

Also, always use the blinds to your advantage. If the player who suggests the deal is about to enter the blinds, make sure to point that out and make him/her pay extra because of their position. If you are about to be in the blinds, obviously don't point it out.

Finally, if you are a skilled player or have won tournaments at that casino before, make sure to point this out. Even though it may sound like bragging, if you mention that you're a semi-professional or have won that individual tournament before you may get a better deal because the amateur players will realize that you have an advantage over them, regardless of how small it is.

Other Deal Making Factors

Another factor that you can use to your advantage is if the tournament is part of a series and has a point value to it. For example, in the WSOP each tournament is worth points towards the Player of the Year award. If you are only playing one tournament in the series, these points are worth nothing to you, so you can use them to your advantage and say "Ok we can make a chop, but I want extra money because you guys are going to get these points and gain value out of them, and I don't care about them." Although it really isn't very logical reasoning you may be able to get a little more money out of it.

This applies to both live and online play, because many sites, such as, have weekly and yearly tournament leader boards that are based off of points, so you can make sure to point that out to the other players if they are regulars and you only play occasionally.

Overall, although deal making may not be the most glamorous poker skill, it may be one of the most profitable because it can swing your pay days by thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. The most skilled poker deal makers will bring in a ton of extra money throughout their career by taking advantage of lesser skilled deal makers, so if you want to increase your revenue make sure to start learning these skills now. Good luck, and make sure to read more of our poker tournament strategy articles.

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