After the second ever final table deal at a World Poker Tour event – after years of claiming that there weren’t any “deals” in a WPT tournament – Executive Tournament Director Matt Savage has admitted there is a problem. In an attempt to correct this issue, Savage has opened up discussion on the subject on both his Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Hearing the Calls

Earlier this week, Savage issued a Tweet that indicated that the WPT was looking to change some of the ways they handle the final table action for their events. “(The WPT) wants your opinion on deal making for the Main Tour. There are multiple factors to consider including a Tournament of Champions seat, POY points, television production (and) live reporting,” Savage Tweeted earlier this week. “What are your thoughts on how this should take place when deals are allowed?

There was a remarkable outpouring of thoughts from both the general public and poker players over both Savage’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. In total, over 230 people spoke up through the social media outlets, with a spirited discussion from both sides. The sides seemed split evenly, with a sizeable number saying that there should be allowances for deals (and that they should be transparent about any such actions) and an equal number saying that there shouldn’t be any deals made. The discussion about POY points also came into the mix, with the audience stating that they should be split along the lines of any deal and they should not be allowed to be used as a barter.  

 “After hearing multiple opinions and comments through Twitter, Facebook and text, (the WPT) will work with our partner casinos on what deals are allowable by jurisdiction,” Savage wrote on Friday following the discussions on his social outreach. As far as the POY points – which are important because the WPT does offer $15,000 in WPT buy-ins for the eventual champion and smaller prizes for those that come in behind the eventual winner – Savage is continuing the discussion on Twitter and Facebook, posting which scenario would be appropriate if a deal is made.

Kudos to Savage and WPT – But it Should Have Been Done Sooner

First off, kudos have to be given to Savage and the WPT for entertaining the discussion on a subject that is one of the lesser known “realities” of tournament poker. There are deals made in poker tournaments ranging from a $50 buy in at the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa to the million dollar “One Drop” event at the WSOP (if you don’t think those guys aren’t making some deals…). For the WPT to ignore this reality any more, especially after the last couple of years, was becoming a bit ridiculous.

The current situation was brought out due to the results of the WPT Borgata Poker Open earlier in September. Down to a three-handed situation, the players took an “unscheduled break” and apparently discussed a deal amongst the three of them. But, according to WPT records, no such decision was reached and the champion was determined on a ludicrous, three-way all in that saw the eventual champion hit a runner-runner straight to “win” the event.

This came after the 2018 WPT Fallsview, which some claim was more egregious than the Borgata tournament. Down to heads up play, poker pros Mike Leah and Ryan Yu squared off with Yu holding more than a 2:1 lead. On the first hand, Yu raised and Leah went all in “over the top” and, instead of calling, Yu folded. This chip dump continued until Leah had a monstrous stack and would go on to easily win the tournament. It came out following the event that Leah and Yu had plotted that, if they reached heads-up against each other, that Yu would dump the title (and the POY points) to Leah, as Leah was more interested in the title and the POY points than in the money.

Prior to these two events, there was apparently no deal making on the WPT circuit. In the beginning, ownership and leadership of the WPT felt that their events were a “competition” and, as such, should be played out to the eventual conclusion. This supposedly changed around 2010, when Savage took over the WPT tournament director responsibilities, but it was apparently never made public. It seems that, as well as many other aspects of the WPT tournament endgames, might be changing in the future.

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