Daniel Negreanu on WSOP: Improve POY or I Stop Playing It

Daniel Negreanu photo by pokerstars
DNegs ain't having it. (Photo: PokerStars)

There’s a suite on the 25th floor of the luxurious Arts Hotel next to the Casino Barcelona.

This is where Daniel Negreanu chilled out between High Roller events at the most recent PokerStars Championship Barcelona.

The view over the city is absolutely fantastic but, based on some recent proclamations from his always popular Vlog, we had to talk about some serious things.

For starters: the Player of the Year system at the World Series of Poker must change, says the Canadian/American pro. Also: What's really good for poker.

PokerListings: In your latest Vlog you mentioned a lot of things that don’t “have any real meaning." Does the Player of the Year trophy at the WSOP mean something to you?

Daniel Negreanu: What I meant was that we in the poker community decide what is meaningful and what isn’t.

Daniel Negreanu7
"I believe the Player of the Year award is prestigious"

I believe the Player of the Year award is prestigious in that it requires a really good run and only a small amount of people can win it.

PL: Is it unfortunate that Chris Ferguson is leading that ranking this year? Should Jack Effel have done something about this?

DN: What they should have done has nothing to do with Chris Ferguson. Whoever wins, wins, right?

He certainly didn’t have the best series. He didn’t really do that well. 

It’s the points system of the WSOP that’s completely broken. It focuses way too much on player numbers and not on buy-in and quality of players.

The $10k Championships were totally underrated. I was disenfranchised with it and over it halfway through the series. Despite this being my best World Series ever I barely cracked the Top 10.

The system was so based on ROI that you could easily be a losing player over the summer and still win the title. A min-cash in a low buy-in event gave you pretty much the same points as coming 12th in the 10k Stud Hi-Lo where you played against the best in the world.

In the future they either have to improve it to at least where it was, or I stop playing it. And that would mean they lose a lot of other people because many of them are chasing the POY title.

PL: You wouldn’t really stop playing the WSOP just because the points system isn’t good, would you?

DN: Yes, I would. That title is the main reason why I play the WSOP.

Lex Veldhuis Twitch.tv
Streams like Lex's = good for poker.

I’d still come out and play the $50k and the Main Event but the idea of grinding all the tournaments for nothing … I don’t want to play in a system where I have to play the $565 PLO.

People say it has to be an award for everybody but I say what the f…, not everything has to be for everybody. There are enough events for the everyman like the Colossus and several others.

Is it really so wrong to have something prestigious, something that requires a full schedule of play that incorporates some high buy-in events? Is that really such an evil thought?

I don’t think so. It might sound elitist but it’s really not.

PL: In your Vlog you mentioned a couple of things that are good for poker. I’ll ask you about some other things. Number 1 – Twitch.

DN: Definitely good for poker. We have a great team of Twitchers with Jeff Gross, Jason Somerville, Lex Veldhuis, Jamie Staples and they’re doing a really good job.

Personally, I’m focussing more on YouTube. When Power Up becomes available there’s a good chance I’ll stream on Twitch because I really enjoy that game.

PL: Number 2 – PokerShares. Good for poker?

Mike Matusow
Fun, but NBC HU ran its course.

DN: This is a controversial one. A lot of pros think it’s bad for poker; I think it’s fantastic. Sure, it undercuts the market. But it also corrects it. If people oversell, you can get better odds there.

It’s great from a fan perspective. Look at the NFL. It’s popular because people can gamble on it. They watch it to the end because they have money on it.

PL: Last but not least – the NBC Heads-up Championship.

DN: I’d say it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s certainly not bad for poker but I don’t think heads-up poker does very well as a viewing experience.

It served its time. It was good that it was on NBC so it went to the mainstream and reached more viewers than other shows.

PL: People took issue because you now say you always said 'less rake is better' while you were defending more rake when PokerStars changed the system. Can you please clear this up?

DN: This is probably one of the most frustrating things for me. It’s taking one thing out of context, taking one statement out of a 30-minute Vlog, where I was mainly talking about rewards.

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About that rake thing ...

Now, I wrote a blog about it and explained in full. It was very logical and not even controversial. 

Essentially you can have situations where a player might be better off and have a better chance to win in a game with high rake compared to a game with low rake against only pros.

I’ve seen it happen myself. I saw a guy playing in a low-rake game with pros and he got destroyed.

Then he moved to a different place where the rake was too high so the pros didn’t play there as they couldn’t beat it.

The guy still lost ... but at a much slower rate. So my point was that from a loss-rate perspective, the losing player has two enemies – the rake and the winning players.

Now, if rake eliminates winning players as an obstacle that means that chances are that more money stays in the losing player’s pocket for a longer time.

PL: Thank you, Daniel Negreanu.

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