If you had a chance to play your first major live tournament and you could seek advice from Daniel Negreanu, what would your questions be?
Just before the main event kicked off at the 2017 PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo, the Canadian PokerStars Pro casually sat down with a table full of recreational players.
There was no schedule and no agenda; just a Meet & Greet in the main event area with a lot of laughter and banter and the Mediterranean sun shining through the open roof of the Salles des Etoiles at the Casino Monte Carlo.
We sat down with them and listened to the questions and answers. We won’t go through all of them here but summarized the key points Negreanu urged his listeners to memorize.
1. Don’t Show if You Don’t Have To
DN: There’s no reason to show, no matter if you had it or if you were bluffing. People will pick up on how much you bet, what you looked like when you did it, and so on.
At some point they will get back at you. Wait until you have more experience.
I show sometimes, but I know why and I know what I’m doing. It’s part of my game play.
I want the players at the table to know what I’m capable of. But even I wouldn’t play this kind of game with everybody. It depends who’s sitting there.
Also, don’t overplay your hands. A-Q, for example, is a tricky hand.
Don’t 4-bet it because if you get pushed on you’re basically dead. What do you think the other guy is pushing with?
2. Reading People is About Small Things
DN: It’s about noticing and picking up, but it’s not the same things for everybody. It’s not easy and it takes time.
Careful you don’t get fooled. I do a lot of reverse, reverse tells for example. Once I bluffed in a tournament and put my face in my hand. That tournament was televised.
I got called and everybody saw I bluffed – at the table and on TV. For a year after that I made that exact move with my hand every time I had the nuts and I got paid off again and again.
3. Don’t Bluff
DN: I don’t bluff. Ever. Except maybe that one time against Isaac Haxton.
4. Don’t Loosen Up Early
DN: If you think you should see a lot of flops when it’s cheap, you’re wrong. That’s bad poker.
Don’t keep limping when the blinds are low. With blinds 25/50 there's $75 in the pot you can win. That’s nothing.
Later, when there are antes, there’s a lot more to win if you can see a flop. That’s when you should loosen up.
5. Get Credit for Playing Tight
DN: If you haven’t played a hand for a while, make sure that people know you haven’t because only then you’ll get a lot of credit. If the others don’t realize you haven’t played a hand in a long time, then you can’t benefit from it.
6. Have a Purpose
DN: I believe it’s not enough to know what you want or where you want to go. You also need to know how to get there and why you want to get there.
Take a poker tournament for example. Why do you want to win it? The money, you say? Ok, but why? What are you going to do with it?
Or you just want to feel accomplished? Fine, but why is that so important for you? If you don’t have a purpose it’ll make it hard for you to achieve anything.
I’ve seen billionaires who only talk about making more money. People who’ll never go broke but complain if the coffee is $5. Why would they ever care?
These people believe in the lie that more is always better. They think if they have more money, they’ll be happier. But it doesn’t work like that.
DN: Failure is important. Everybody fails. I did it, too.
More than once I was in Vegas winning money, thinking I had the game figured out, and 24 hours later I was so broke that I had to walk back to my hotel.
These walks were very important for me. I still benefit from them because I learned something every time.