Negreanu Looks for Third Final in Tough WSOPE ME

Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu at the 2009 WSOPE main event.

The relatively deep structure and small field concentrated with some of the biggest names in the game has turned the World Series of Poker Europe’s main event one of the toughest tournaments on the planet.

But after making the final table the past two years, finishing fifth in 2008 and runner-up last year, Daniel Negreanu is in London and looking forward to it.

“I seem to do really well over here,” he said, moments after making it through to the round of 16 in the £10,350 High Roller Heads-Up event Wednesday, his first in UK bracelet event so far this year.

“When I’ve played all the tournaments in the past, I seemed to cash in three or four of them. I came fifth and then I came second last year. I just showed up here now and I’m in the money.

“I like the food (in London) and I like the vibe. It’s a little old school and it seems to bring out the best in me. It must be something about the vibe.”

Negreanu isn’t the only one who digs the UK vibe, with the number of big name pros finding success in the World Series’ biggest event on this side of the Atlantic growing every year throughout its short three-year history.

In fact, with perhaps the exception of 2007, when Gus Hansen bubbled the final nine and Annette Obrestad’s star was born with a win, the £10,000 main event has provided some stellar final tables.

When Negreanu made fifth in 2008, John Juanda went on to capture the title, adding $1.5 million to his more than $10 million in career earnings. Plus, November Niner Ivan Demidov shocked the poker world, making the main event final table in London before the Main Event final table in Las Vegas had been settled.

A year later, the story was all too familiar. Negreanu was there again, finishing runner-up to CardPlayer magnate Barry Shulman, whose son Jeff had made the November Nine two months earlier.

Plus, November Niners James Akenhead and Antoine Saout booked seats in the final, matching Demidov’s spectacular feat.

Add in WSOP bracelet winners Chris Bjorin, Matthew Hawrilenko, Praz Bansi, and budding superstar Jason Mercier and the 2009 final was an instant classic.

“The two final tables I’ve played here were two of the toughest I’ve ever played,” Negreanu said.

“The truth is, with this kind of a field, the average old school tournament players who really aren’t that good, they don’t have much of a chance here. The level of competition is too high.

“There’s not a lot of dead money and there’s not as much value because there’s just not as many suckers. Every table has a high amount of pros and a very small amount of average to weak players.”

And as far as the success November Niners have enjoyed, Negreanu believes that may just be a numbers game.

“There is something to momentum and they’re obviously riding high and feeling good, but at the same time, there’s nine of them,” he said. “If there’s only a couple hundred players in the field, and there’s nine of them, one of them is bound to make a final table.

“They’re all obviously decent players, so it’s not all that unreasonable to think someone from the November Nine is going to make a final table.”

This year’s six-day WSOPE Main Event will begin with the first of two starting days at 12 p.m. London time Thursday inside the Casino at the Empire in London’s Leicester Square.

And by the time the final table rolls around Sep. 28, Negreanu believes we’ll see more of the same.

“With all these pros and the deep structure there is lot of sophisticated play in this event, so you are always going to get tough final tables,” he said.

“To make it at the WSOPE you have to be capable of playing high-level poker.”

Click through to PokerListings’ WSOPE Live Updates to catch a slice of the action.

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