WPT Executive Tour Director Asks Poker Community for Input on Final Table Deal-Making

  • Recent unofficial deal at WPT final table resulted in questionable play
  • Savage said WPT will start to allow deals after years of prohibiting them
  • Poker community on Twitter split on attitudes towards deal-making
man in suit delivering a speech at a poker tournament
Executive Tour Director Matt Savage has asked the poker community via Twitter for their feedback on the WPT allowing deals at final tables. [Image: flickr.com]

Question posed on social media

Matt Savage, Executive Tour Director of the World Poker Tour (WPT), asked the poker community via Twitter for their input on whether the event should allow deals at the final table.

after years of not allowing deals, the WPT will be changing its rules

Savage listed the multiple factors that should be taken into consideration, namely the Tournament of Champions seat, POY points, television production, and live reporting.

Hundreds of people have provided their two cents. Responses seem fairly evenly split between those that are in favor of deal-making and those who are against it. Savage said that after years of not allowing deals, the WPT will be changing its rules. Deals will eventually be permitted at casinos in jurisdictions where they do not violate gaming regulations.

Fishy Borgata final table catalyst for change

Savage’s query stems from what happened at the final table of the WPT Borgata Poker Open Main Event just over a week ago. During three-handed play, the players took what the WPT called an “unscheduled break”. The WPT didn’t say so, but it was widely reported that the men were making a deal.

The tournament concluded shortly after, with all three players moving all-in on the final hand with rags: 5-3, J-3, and T-4. Donald Maloney ended up hitting a runner-runner straight with his T-4 to win it.

it was widely reported that the men were making a deal

Afterwards, Maloney said that the three of them were “really exhausted and really didn’t want to play anymore.” Nobody bought that line, as there was too much money at stake for them to just give up on it. The prevailing opinion in the poker community was that it was fine that they made a deal, but they should just be open about it.

There has been one other instance on the World Poker Tour where it was obvious that players had made a deal. In 2018, Mike Leah beat Ryan Yu heads-up to win the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic. Yu had a 4-to-1 chip lead entering heads-up and the two players took a break. When they came back, Yu blatantly dumped chips to Leah, allowing Leah to easily win the tournament. Leah later explained that they had made a straight ICM chop in which Yu won more money and the $15,000 Tournament of Champions seat, as he had more chips at the time. Leah would get the tourney title.

Twitter followers provide valuable insight

Among the responses to Savage, the most common solution from those in favor of official deals was to require that at least 10 percent of the remaining prize pool, the Tournament of Champions seat, and the tournament title be left on the table. That way, players will still have something for which to play and won’t be as likely to make nonsensical moves.

Those who claimed to be against deals generally felt they go contrary to the spirit of competition. Many were also concerned, as Savage noted in a subsequent Twitter post, that it might turn off television viewers, as the ending of a tournament will seem less legitimate.

One solution many suggested was to flatten tournament payout structures to make end-game variance less of a problem.

Feedback on Player of the Year points

In a follow-up question, Savage asked what should be done about Player of the Year points. For many, these points aren’t important, but there are monetary rewards for the top finishers at the end of the year.

So far, 38 percent of respondents said the points should be awarded by actual finishing position. 34 percent feel points should be chopped equally when a deal is made, while 28 percent think their distribution should be based on how much money each person wins, including the additional cash left on the table.

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