Thursday, June 09, 2011

Negotiating a deal

One more story from yesterday's Binion's HORSE tournament.

The final table was nine players, even though only eight spots paid, and even though the tournament had been all 8-max to that point. This actually made sense, because the bubble can take a long time, and leaving one table with five players and one with four for long can be a significant disadvantage to the shorter table. It also meant that we didn't have to do any hand-for-hand play.

As soon as we had assembled at the "feature" table (Binion's has a little rail-enclosed platform area for this), talk began of a save for 9th place--some way to get the bubble boy his entrance fee of $200 back as a consolation prize. I suggested that everybody just take $25 cash out of their wallets, have one of us hold it, and that way we wouldn't even have to involve the tournament officials or fiddle with the payout amounts. That idea was not warmly met.

The next iteration was to have $25 deducted from each payout amount, thus creating an official 9th paid place of $200.

Here's where it got interesting. Rather than ask whether anybody objected, they arranged for a silent, anonymous vote by cards. Each player was given one red card and one black card. At the signal, we pushed to the center of the table our black card if voting "yes" on the proposal, red card for "no." Those cards were scrambled, and then the unused cards collected. The TD then turned over the voting cards. Even though nobody had voiced an objection to the proposed deal, there was one red card. Unanimity is required, so it was rejected.

A few minutes later somebody said that it didn't seem fair to have the same amount taken out of each payout, that the higher finishes should contribute more. Somebody else suggested $100 from first and $50 from each of second and third places. That got enough general support to warrant another vote by cards, and this time the motion carried.

I have seen tournament deals scuttled by one or two objectors, and some of those in favor of the deal getting really nasty and critical of the holdouts. I had read about other places using this kind of anonymous voting system, but I had never seen or participated in one before. It takes a few extra minutes, but I think the reduction in undue social pressure and avoidance of arguments and rancor is well worth it.

Once in a while a new idea for how to do something comes along that is in every way superior to what had gone before. I think that this is one such, and that it should be universally adopted by poker tournament directors who involve themselves in any negotiated deals.


NumbBono said...

Wow, just take the money out of the prize pool and recalculate the percentages for everyone. Pretty simple stuff, as long as everyone agrees. Or maybe Binions doesn't have access to calculators.

Michael said...

I like the card vote. Keeps it cordial and doesn't make anyone out to be the villain. Although as soon as someone announces a 'new' deal and there was only one discerning vote, you can pretty much assume who dissented.

Anonymous said...

$20 bux a piece for the bubble for gtfo imo

Glenn said...

I really like this approach as a way to remove the dreaded "well if you say no, you'll be the next one to bust" bs that typically goes on when discussions of a deal come up. Good for Binions!

Herb said...

That's odd that the $25 option wasn't agreeable. The last tournament I played in, a $60 rebuy, paid 7 places. When we reached the final table of 9, we all chipped in $10 for the 8th place person. Turns out I threw mine in too soon, as I busted out next.