Poker

How to bet on poker final tables


Barry Carter is a big fan of the new final table betting feature from GGPoker which he hopes will help online poker become a spectator sport.

This week GGPoker launched a new final table betting feature in its client, a genius move in partnership with PokerShares and something which poker probably should have happened five years ago. 

The winner of the first market was the chip leader going into the event Koray Aldemir, who was 293/100 in the betting markets when they opened. 

There have been many attempts to popularise poker betting markets but they never really took off. I think probably because it was usually sports bookmakers involved who didn’t understand poker.

PokerShares have changed that. They started out by offering players the chance to bet on people they rail in the form of staking and off the back of that have launched a number of betting markets on other poker events, for example a lot of money has been wagered betting on Polk vs Negreanu. GGPoker have also given players the chance to stake people they are railing in-client. It seems inevitable that the two would partner up.

I think this feature will be massive if it can get rolled out to every major final table, even better if it can be automated and put on all the final tables. The dream situation would be if you could bet in-play as you watch along. 

Whether that is possible is a big question but the initial odds did seem to be based on the percentage of chips each player had plus a vig. This is how the final table started:

The final table

Below are the percentage chances of each player winning from ICM calculator PrimeDope (this is in chip order not seat order). 

final table
The ICM breakdown

Always look at ICM first

When it comes to predicting a winner, ICM is very simple, it literally just assigns each player the odds of them winning based on the percentage of the total chips they hold. So Koray Aldemir had 33.1% of the chips, so his chances were 33.1%. ICM only gets complicated afterwards deciding the odds each player has of every subsequent place.

What the ICM method does not factor in is skill edge, which is where the value hunters should take an interest in these markets. When you convert the odds each player had into percentages, the betting client pretty much followed ICM each time after giving themselves a small vig on each player. Skill edges are much smaller at final tables and these are all elite players, so the odds were probably about right. 

So if you are going to have a flutter on a final table, first compare the odds to ICM. I’d always look at ICM rather than just look at the percentage of chips each player has, especially if an each way market is available. Then if you think a player has an edge and the odds they are given is close to ICM, they might be a value bet. 

The new betting client

More than anything, checking out the ICM will stop you making a massive mistake. Some of the early attempts at betting markets on final tables would massively overweight the famous players and discount the unknowns. At the 2009 Main Event final table Phil Ivey was 4/1 implying he would win 20% of the time, but he had 5% of the chips at the start. He is obviously a great player but I don’t think he is four times better than an ICM calculation, especially starting as a short stack. 

One final note and that is the overround on this market was 104%, which is pretty decent. 104% means that the odds were collated in such a way that the bookmaker takes 4% on the overall market. For example Koray Aldemir’s ICM odds of winning was 33.1% but the bookmaker implied odds were 34.1%, that 1% difference adds to the overall overround of 104%, which is how the bookmaker earns money. However, this is quite generous for these markets and you would sometimes see overrounds over 130% for poker markets. 

It should go without saying that mostly this is just a fun feature if you like railing high stakes finales, one which I think will be incredibly popular and will help make online poker a spectator sport.

Did you have a bet? Let us know in the comments:





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