TCOOP: gabrieldin6's deal-making brinksmanship pays off in Event 38 ($55 NLHE Ante Up)

13996-TCOOP-thumb.pngWhen I was in school, I took a semester-look seminar in negotiation. The class taught me that, as much as negotiation is a science (employing myriad acronyms like BATNA to explain why people will behave in certain predictable ways during a negotiation), it's also an art form. The science only defines the boundaries within which a deal will take place; the actual form of the deal is where the art comes in.

2012 TCOOP Event 38, $55 No-Limit Hold'em (Ante Up) provided an object lesson in deal-making: its potential and its pitfalls. And although gabrieldin6 won the tournament after a five-way deal was struck, rejecting an earlier 9-way deal almost cost gabrieldin6 several thousand dollars in prize money.

Big antes created big prizes for the final table of Event 38. With 3,814 players entering the tournament, the minimum payout at the final table was $1,525.60 - about 28 times the $55 buy-in. The winner stood to receive nearly $30,000 of the $190,700 prize pool. Once again, as has been the case throughout TCOOP, the guarantee set for this event by PokerStars ($100,000) was shattered.

It was another tough day for Team PokerStars. Nine Team Pros and Team Online players entered the tournament but not a single one cashed. Team Pro Marcin Horecki came closest, but he fell more than 500 places shy of the money. Sometimes, in this game, demonstrably high levels of skill aren't enough to take you all the way home.

The deal-making started in earnest just moments after the tournament reached its final table:

TCOOP-38 final table.jpg

Seat 1: LeviTheKing1 (1321973 in chips)
Seat 2: zcedrick (1241903 in chips)
Seat 3: Nyefated (613368 in chips)
Seat 4: all IQ (1441670 in chips)
Seat 5: Ilkinopoulos (2042620 in chips)
Seat 6: gabrieldin6 (4210503 in chips)
Seat 7: ImlykwagwanG (5266232 in chips)
Seat 8: german brain (1892347 in chips)
Seat 9: falldown666 (1039384 in chips)

Let's make a deal

The blinds were fixed at 5/5, as they had been all tournament. The ante was up to 90,000, representing 23 antes against the average stack of 2.1 million. 810,000 was in the middle to start each hand, about 40% of the average stack. Nyefated took the first pot uncontested with ace-queen, then doubled up on the second hand to about 4 million by winning a traditional "ace-king versus queens" flip against gabrieldin6.

With a more dominant chip position secured, Nyefated suggested the table should discuss a deal. Surprisingly, everyone else agreed and the tournament was paused after only four final-table hands.

ImlykwagwangG: $23,535.10
Nyefated: $19,537.17
gabrieldin6: $13,200.04
Ilkinopoulos: $9,044.31
LeviTheKing1: $9,446.04
german brain: $8,368.78
all IQ: $6,342.95
zcedrick: $5,444.93
falldown666: $4,534.52

Now if you know anything about groups of 5 or more people, you know it's difficult to get them all to agree on where to eat for lunch, never mind a deal in which almost $100,000 is up for grabs. So when the numbers came back from PokerStars support, I expected there to be a long period of dissent as each player tried to angle for a better deal. Although the dissent was muted, the bartering dragged across 20 minutes. The horse-trading that ensued produced this second suggested deal:

ImlykwagwangG: $22,835.09
Nyefated: $18,837.17
gabrieldin6: $13,200.04
LeviTheKing1: $10,000.00
Ilkinopoulos: $9,044.31
german brain: $8,194.28
all IQ: $6,342.95
zcedrick: $6,000.00
falldown666: $5,000.00

That deal got agreement from 6 of the 9 players - all but zcedrick, all IQ and gabrieldin6. zcedrick wanted $7,000; all IQ did not want zcedrick to get more than all IQ got. While gabrieldin6 continued to remain silent, zcedrick convinced the four biggest payouts to give up $250 each to make up the extra $1,000 that zcedrick wanted to receive. all IQ acquiesced, creating a third proposed deal:

It was at that moment that gabrieldin6 expressed opposition to the deal, despite the fact that gabrieldin6's 3rdd-place chip stack would earn just shy of 3rdd-place money at a high-variance, short-stacked, turbo-paced final table. gabrieldin6 wanted to resume play, and so after 33 minutes of fruitless negotiations, play resumed, leaving eight players incredibly hot under the collar with gabrieldin6. They pestered gabrieldin6, asking what deal would be acceptable, but received no response other than, "No."

The trials of gabrieldin6

The players got back to the action, trading antes and expressing frustration, until all IQ pushed in for 750,000 and was called by none other than gabrieldin6. all IQ's pockets queens were ahead of gabrieldin6's pocket 9s, but a 9 flopped to give gabrieldin6 a set and what would be the winning hand.

Again the table tried to get gabrieldin6 to agree to a deal; again gabrieldin6 refused. While the gabrieldin6-bashing continued, a three-way all in produced two more eliminations. falldown666 (8th) and zcedrick (7th) were both all in as short stacks and both hit the rail after ImlykwagwanG rivered a straight:

RSS readers: click through to see replay

The elimination of Ilkinopoulos in 6th place when A♥5♦ failed to improve against the T♥T♣ of Nyefated renewed calls from the players for a deal. gabrieldin6, now in 4th chip position of the remaining five players, finally agreed to re-pause the tournament. Chip chop numbers now produced the following proposal:

ImlykwagwanG: $27,496.72
Nyefated: $23,938.60
german brain: $11,361.51
gabrieldin6: $11,265.88
LeviTheKing1: $10,993.28

In this version of the deal, gabrieldin6's share actually dropped by $2,000 despite the elimination of four players. Everyone quickly agreed to the new deal except german brain, who requested $13,000 total. After all the previous negotiations, however, it seemed german brain's heart wasn't in a protracted fight. Within another minute the unmodified proposal was agreed to by all players.

Play resumed. lmlykwagwanG, as the big stack, began to play very aggressively. But nobody was knocked out until gabrieldin6 moved all in with A♣T♣. german brain called all in for less with A♥9♣ and lost the battle of kickers on a board of 7♥2♠5♣8♥3♣. The very next hand LeviTheKing1 shoved a short stack with A♠9♦ but lost the hand when gabrieldin6's Q♦8♦ made a pair of 8s, 8♣K♦2♦K♠5♠. LeviTheKing1 finished in 4th place.

Nyefated put a tough beat on ImlykwagwanG by getting all in after the flop with unimproved A♦4♥ against ImlykwagwanG's unimproved A♣9♣. A 4 promptly spiked on the turn, leaving ImlykwagwanG with about 6 antes. Those 6 antes wound up in gabrieldin6's stack the next hand as ImlykwagwanG 's T♣9♣ couldn't overtake gabrieldin6's K♠5♠.

The last two players, Nyefated and gabrieldin6, took turns with the chip lead. The ante by the time heads-up play started was 20,000; total chips in play were 19 million, giving the final two players about 95 antes between the two of them. They were deeper than they'd played for most of the final table, especially given that 40,000 was all in that was in the pot to start each hand.

Yet somehow all the chips went in pre-flop anyway. On the final hand, gabrieldin6 checked the small blind for 5, then called Nyefated's all in shove of 8.2 million. Nyefated showed 3♥3♦; gabrieldin6 showed a disguised 9♠9♦. A single 9 would have been enough for gabrieldin6 after the board rolled out 8♥8♦6♥Q♥6♦ to overcoat Nyefated's starting hand.

In the end, with the $2,000 set-aside for the champion, gabrieldin6 received exactly the payout under the 5-player deal as gabrieldin6 would have received under the 9-player deal - but with much more volatility and variance. It was certainly an unusual way to crown the lastest TCOOP champion.

2012 TCOOP Event 38 $55 No-Limit Hold'em (Ante Up) results (reflect five-way deal):

*1st: gabrieldin6 ($13,265.88)
*2nd: Nyefated ($23,938.60)
*3rd: ImlykwagwanG ($27,496.72)
*4th: LeviTheKing1 ($10,993.28)
*5th: german brain ($11,361.51)
6th: Ilkinopoulos ($6,197.75)
7th: zcedrick ($4,290.75)
8th: falldown666 ($2,383.75)
9th: all IQ ($1,525.60)

We're in the home stretch of the 2012 TCOOP, but it's not too late to get in the game. Find all the information about TCOOP that you could possibly want - leaderboards, stats, and the schedule of remaining satellites and events - at the TCOOP home page.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in TCOOP