“I did the exact same bet last year," Daniel Negreanu told PokerListings on Friday night at the 2014 World Series of Poker.
"I didn’t have a piece of it, but Phil Ivey had one. It was the same bet last year.
“The only difference this year is that I went to Twitter and let everyone have a chance to do it.”
On May 13th, Negreanu put this year's most-talked about WSOP side-bet on the Internet. The bet:
Two Poker Icons. 63 Events. One Bracelet
“I think it’s fun for people,” Negreanu said. “I think people are interested in it.”
One summer. Two players. Sixty-three events*. One bracelet. Even money.
“We wouldn’t make the bet if we didn’t think we were favorites."
The odds were too tempting for some people to pass up, while others thought it’d be a close sweat. Some considered betting against arguably the two greatest players in poker to be a losing proposition.
Negreanu and Ivey -- two men who’ve won millions of dollars and built franchises off of their gambling achievements -- clearly felt the latter. To think otherwise, Negreanu said, would just be downright silly.
“We wouldn’t make the bet if we didn’t think we were favorites," Negreanu said. "That would be kind of silly.
"So yeah, we definitely think we’re favorites."
$40m in Tournament Earnings; 15 WSOP Bracelets
Plenty of bracelet-winning muscle memory to fall back on.
Between them Negreanu and Ivey have (excluding closed events) slightly more than $40 million in tournament earnings and 15 WSOP bracelets -- 12 of which were won in Las Vegas.
Ivey won his first bracelet in 2000 and earned his eighth Vegas bracelet in 2010. Negreanu also knows the feeling of winning WSOP gold throughout a decade. Negreanu won his first WSOP bracelet in 1998 and clinched number four in Vegas in 2008.
Bracelet number four, in terms of players in the field, was also Negreanu’s largest victory. Negreanu beat a field of 480 players that year to win $204,863.
Ivey’s biggest bracelet win was also his last Vegas win when he bested 478 players in the 2010 $3,000 H.O.R.S.E event and won $329,840.
On average -- including WSOP Europe and WSOP-APAC -- both players have defeated an average field of 241 players to win bracelets. Ivey defeated an average field of 204 players while Negreanu overcame an average field of 277 players.
The two excel in small-field events and the WSOP has plenty more left on its schedule for 2014. Those include the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E, Seven-Card Stud, Pot-Limit Hold’em and Seven-Card Stud Split events.
Marquee events like the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship and the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop, which is capped at 56 players, are also still to come.
"Decent" Amount of Action but Not "Consequential"
A lot of people liked their odds against the two top pros and booked some action through Negreanu.
"I knew how much it meant for all his side bets.”
“A decent amount,” Negreanu said when asked how much action.
“I don’t know the exact number,” he clarified when pushed for specifics.
Negreanu said he booked Ivey’s action as well but didn’t elaborate on those numbers either. Despite there being a “decent amount” of action, Negreanu says the money involved isn’t that big of a deal.
Rumors online suggest around $250,000 - even up to $400,000 - has been posted although Negreanu says it's not enough to bother him either way.
“I don’t care about it,” Negreanu said. “Like I don’t care, the money that I had invested, that I’m betting is not, it’s not consequential to me in my life."
As one of the world's most successful poker players Negreanu's level of inconsequence could put the dollar-figure on the bet even higher. Ivey, who is currently involved in lawsuits with two casinos over $20m+ in Baccarat winnings, could easily have an even bigger stake.
Poker pro Paul Volpe, who defeated Negreanu heads-up in the $10,000 2-7 single draw event two days ago, thought it still came into play.
“He wants to win a bracelet so bad,” Volpe said during his post-win interview. “He really wanted to get heads up and go from there. I felt like I took advantage of that, I put pressure on.
“I knew he was trying to get heads-up and I knew how much it meant for all his side bets.”
But Negreanu says getting that close to a bracelet didn’t affect his heads-up play.
“No. Not at all. Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me, winning or losing that bet,” Negreanu said.
"I Just Plan to Win"
In fact Negreanu’s personal plans are a bit more ambitious than just one bracelet.
“My goal, my intention is to win three bracelets this summer,” Negreanu said.
“My goal, my intention is to win three bracelets this summer."
Since that was his plan all along, Negreanu says his summer preparations weren’t affected by the bet.
“I just plan to win,” Negreanu said. “I had a game plan already set that was based on what I thought was best. But not necessarily for the bracelet, not because of the bet.”
Negreanu said he and Ivey didn’t even discuss the bet very much before putting it out there.
“Same bet as last year, he said see what action you can get,” Negreanu said. “I said, ‘OK,’ I went to Twitter and got as much as I could.”
While Negreanu has one of the most accomplished poker players in the world at his side, he said he could think of a few other players he’d partner up with as well but steered clear from specifics again.
First Big Sweat Falls Just Short
So far it was Negreanu who gave a decent amount of the poker world a good sweat after getting heads-up for a bracelet just two weeks into the WSOP.
The event was the $10,000 NL 2-7 SD, which drew 87 players and was Negreanu’s first cash of the summer.
Ivey has also scored a cash this summer, but fell short of the final table and finished 22nd in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em. Still, Ivey has plenty of inspiration to draw on:
Both Ivey and Negreanu played in the $10,000 Razz that started last night but only Negreanu made it through Day 1, chips and sparkling jacket intact.
There were a total of 112 players that signed up for the event but only 74 will come back for Day 2. Negreanu is one of them and will start the day in 11th with 66,100 chips.
Check back on our 2014 WSOP page throughout the series for updates.
*Including the $10,000 Ladies Event with a 90 percent discount for women.