EPT10 Barcelona: The delicate balance of EPT negotiations

Four heads staring at a laptop on the final table of the EPT Barcelona nod as Tournament Director Toby Stone explains what the six-digit numbers they're staring at mean. The four remaining players; Kresten Nielsen, Luca Fiorini, Tom Middleton and Kimmo Kurko, listened intently as Stone said, "I'll leave you to talk. It doesn't involve me."

First round of negotiations begin
"I need to get another €50,000 on top there," said Middleton .

Or at least that's what I thought I could hear. It's some distance from the rail to the table on the TV set. Consider this a 'distance disclaimer' for any quote in this article. My ears are not what they used to be. Maybe it was €5,000? Maybe €15,000?

Tom Middleton appeared to be asking for more. The word 'experienced' kept filtering through. Both Kurko and Nielsen largely seemed to be happy with what Middleton was saying as he suggested number alterations. Fiorini, the only player sat down, looked less so. He gazed into the distance, then looked back to Middleton, and then to floor man Luca Vivaldi, a fellow Italian who was acting as an official translator.


The talks begin

"I'm the most experienced at the table," said Middleton throwing an apologetic shrug.

Fiorini seemed to find it funny, perhaps possibly feeling that he was being railroaded.

"I've got to do it, man, I'm sorry," Middleton added.


Tom 'hitthehole' Middleton

Kurko and Nielsen largely seemed to agree with Middleton, now chattier than he's been at any point through the tournament. The Brit then departed to his rail to discuss the numbers with EPT champs Toby Lewis and Jake Cody, EPT runner-up Fraser McIntyre and, I think, UKIPT runner-up Dave Jones. At least one of these guys has to have a financial stake in Middleton, surely? Kurko stayed at the table. Neilsen circled the table occasionally stopping to loudly talk to members of his rail. Fiorini was now out of his chair.


The British Rail

Second round of negotiations begin
The four players returned to the table. Negotiations seemed to improve with Fiorini, the only stumbling block, looking more open to talks. The €100,000's on the line could well have persuaded him that giving up €5,000 was an acceptable amount.

"If you are strong then why the deal?" asked Fiorini.

"It's a lot of money, but I have to do it." said Middleton.

"Okay, okay." said Fiorini, who acquiesced to a €5k swing to Middleton.


Luca Fiorini

Middleton then returned to his diplomacy team to get approval. Middleton had picked up €10,000 from Neilsen and €5,000 from Fiorini with an agreement for €110,000 for the winner, €60,000 for the second and €30,000 for third. All he needed was a quick thump of the rubber stamp.

Things had changed.


Middleton consults the rail

Negotiations break down
Lewis, now clearly revealed as a backer, didn't think that the deal was good enough to reflect Middleton's talents.

"I know you want to lock it up." said Lewis, before explaining how much Middleton should be taking.

"They're never going to do it." said Middleton.

The rail departed to a blank table, now some time into deal negoiations, to discuss a convoluted equity swap and buy-out. Eventually, partly hurried up Kurko, Middleton ended up guaranteeing himself a set amount of money as a deal was agreed not to deal.

"Let's go play, man." said Middleton.

War is declared (again)
"Have you agreed a deal or not?" asked Stone.

"No." said Middleton.

"No? Okay, let's go." said Stone.

Want to know more about deal making? Read this article by Lee Jones, PokerStars Head of Poker Communications.

Click through to live coverage of the EPT Barcelona Main Event. Check out all the festival results here or take a look at what happened in the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller. Follow the @PokerStarsBlog Twitter account to keep up-to-date with all the EPT action and check out the EPTLive webcast.

is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour