Ever since the European Poker Tour decided (very sensibly) to allow final table deals to be made public, we have always had something extra special to look forward to on final table day: a group of men standing hunched around a laptop and shaking their heads.
The classic of the form took place in Barcelona two years ago, when a will-they, won’t-they discussion ended with Tom Middleton becoming a ruddy-faced pantomime villain by ending negotiations at the 11th hour, right after he’d seemed to get what he wanted.
Following the elimination of Rainer Kempe in fifth place this year, there was another long chat between Denys Shafikov, Steve Warburton, Frederik Jensen and John Juanda, plus one nominated representative apiece, that ended in similar impasse.
This one was not in any way unfriendly, and Juanda, who would ultimately reject the proposal, was clear from the outset that he wasn’t keen. The four players all seemed to be largely indifferent one way of the other, in actual fact, but wanted to take a look at the numbers nonetheless.
At that stage, the stacks were roughly:
Denys Shafikov, 18 million
Steve Warburton, 14 million
Frederik Jensen, 13.5 million
John Juanda, 4.5 million
Toby Stone, the EPT tournament director, fired up his “POKER ICM CALCULATION FOR FINAL TABLE DEALS” software and plugged in the stack sizes, then was able to know what a revised payout structure would look like if they wanted to chop it now.
“One more important thing, lads,” Stone said. “You’ve got to play for ten per cent.”
Warburton has the biggest rail here, therefore had the most friends to choose from to represent him in the negotiations. Simon Deadman got the nod at the beginning, but he was subbed out later on for Niall Farrell, principally (it seemed) because Farrell was carrying two beers to Deadman’s one.
The full ins and outs of the deal proposal were a little difficult to determine while attempting to infiltrate the posse on the stage, but it seemed that Shafikov’s payout would be €923,000, Warburton’s €868,000, Jensen’s €825,000 and Juanda’s €561,000. They would play for the additional.
The original published payout schedule had €1,420,500 for first and €405,100 for fourth, but it was Juanda, as predicted, who didn’t fancy it. The deal would earn him only €150,000 more than he has already locked up and he didn’t regard it as worthwhile. “I take another hundred and forfeit the chance to win a million?” he said. “It seems a little unfair on me.”
The others at no point seemed put out by the development, and seemed to regard it as fair enough. Off they went again four handed.
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Everything from the side events is on the side events page. It will be busy over there today as well.
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