A player who needs no introduction to even the most casual of poker fans, Daniel Negreanu continues to assert his dominance on the World Poker Tour. Here at the 2007 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic he managed to make it into the money before going on a huge rush, finishing the evening as the overall chip leader.
Within striking distance of his eighth WPT final table, Canada's biggest poker export took a few minutes to sit down and kick it with PL.com after play had ceased for the night.
Let's start by talking about how this tournament has gone for you so far. There were times when it looked like you were in danger but you've managed to finish this evening with a dominant chip lead. How did it all go down?
Well, it's patience for one thing as well as understanding the structure. I've played this tournament so many times and I've done really well here. I think that where some other players might think they're really short, I understand that the average stack in this event is just sort of a suggestion. With the structure here if you have even half the average stack you're usually okay to play some poker.
And I don't give up. I don't get that kamikaze mentality and pick up pocket fours or something and just move all-in. I just bide my time and wait for other players to make mistakes, which they generally do, especially in the late stages of these tournaments. People crack. I had a few people crack tonight. But when I got my money in I got it in good and from there I was just playing my game with a few extra wrinkles.
Well, you're one of the most successful players on the tour...
One of the?
Okay, the most successful player on the tour.
By far! Look at the numbers baby! (Laughs)
Nice one. But at any rate, if you make this final table you would take the record for most final tables which you currently share with Phil Ivey and Scotty Nguyen. You talked about feeling really comfortable in this event and I wanted to ask you about the cheering section you have.
There's no other player in the game who gets more people out to watch them so how does it affect you when you're at the table? Is it a distraction or do you draw some strength from their support?
Honestly, I would say I'm relatively indifferent because when I'm playing I'm just playing. In between hands I don't mind, like, kibbitzing and talking to people here and there. I would be walking around anyway, even if there was no one around, just to break up the monotony. But generally speaking when I'm focused I'm not really paying attention to anything else. But when I have some free time I certainly like to entertain.
People respond very well to you. What things do you think have led to you having such a big fan base?
I think it's 'cause I keep it real yo! (Laughs) Seriously, just like not pretending that... I mean, I play poker and I'm good at it. I don't buy into the celebrity thing. I think people get a feel for me just talking to them on an equal level, without talking down to anyone. That's probably the one thing that people appreciate the most is that I'm really just some dude that could be their buddy.
Do you feel like that's a rarity when it comes to poker players?
Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of poker players, like, before, we were just bums. You know, poker players. And now all of a sudden people are asking for your autograph and all this. So maybe people weren't popular in high school or whatever and it can go to their head. They start believing the B.S. And once you start believing that you're that cool you can lose track of yourself. There were some people who were pretty normal before all this and now they're just nutso.
How do you think you were able to side-step that issue?
First of all being aware of it. Second, having friends that couldn't care less who I am, hanging out with them. Overall just not buying into the idea that I'm some big celebrity. I understand that I am to some degree, it's not like I'm oblivious to it, but I really just try not to take it too seriously or pretend like I'm hot shit or something.
Going forward in this event do you feel like you've got a lock on at least making the final table?
No, not at all. I mean, anything can happen. You can lose pots for sure. But I feel like right now, the way that I'm playing, I believe, I don't care what other people say, but I think I put on one of the best performances I could ever play.
I spent a lot of time in this event focusing on some of the younger players, because they really are the new threat, and I picked up some tells and some playing patterns that I was able to take advantage of today. I was able to make some pretty risky moves that worked.
To change the subject a bit, you've joined up with PokerStars and have had a bit of time to settle in there. Tell us about your experience with that organization so far.
Well, to begin with, the Team PokerStars.com thing is a lot different than the Team FullTilt thing, that was their whole goal. PokerStars is really less of a team thing and more just a really great site. As far as me fitting in it's gone great. It's been a really smooth transition though because even prior to my joining I was playing the majority of my hours there.
Having played a few EPT events now, what are the biggest differences not only between European players and American players but European tournaments and American tournaments as well?
Well, the biggest difference is the speed. You get into gamble mode a lot faster there. One of the key differences is that you have 60-minute levels on the EPT and 90-minute levels here.
That really helps a guy like me who likes to play deep-stack poker as opposed to shove-fest poker. I would say that that dictates the way those players play.
Have you found yourself adapting to that style more?
Of course, I'll always adapt. Actually one of my goals next year is to win an EPT event. They are a bit more difficult though because the blinds do go up faster. You have to have a bit more luck in the early stages.
Great. Thanks Daniel and good luck tomorrow.
When Daniel is at the felt in a big buy-in poker tournament it is quite a spectacle. Not only is his play exceptional, the sheer number and enthusiasm of his fans is genuinely impressive. Going into the final 18 with over half a million chips more than his nearest competitor it seems Kid Poker is destined for his eighth WPT final table. Keep it locked on PL.com beginning at noon tomorrow (PST) to follow Daniel's progress as well as all the action here in Las Vegas.