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Daniel Negreanu: The Man, the Myth, the Legend
If you need an introduction to Daniel Negreanu, you need an introduction to poker. I'll oblige you. It's a betting game played using a 52-card deck, in which players gamble on the respective values of their particular combination of cards by betting into a central pot. Daniel Negreanu is one of the best in the world at this particular game, having won almost $10 million in tournament play since turning pro.
Negreanu is also one of the most outspoken players to ever sit at a card table. Opinionated and not afraid to speak his mind when he feels it's for the good of the game, Kid Poker is one of the very few people in the poker world who can effect major change with a post on a blog or a well-placed phone call.
At the end of Day 1b of the World Series of Poker Europe's inaugural Main Event, PokerListings.com caught up with Kid Poker to solicit his opinion on the new tournament, as well as on his play at the recent World Cup of Poker and his recent decision to sign as a representative for PokerStars.com.
Alright, Daniel. How did you play today?
Very well. I'm very excited. I have $60,000 in chips after Day 1. I feel like I played my game, which is pretty cautious, but I can get aggressive and I feel very confident that I'm going to do well in this tournament.
I noticed a couple of your bigger hands today - you had one against Alan Goehring and another late hand against Sean McCabe. Can you take us through those?
Well, I mean the last hand was really not a very important hand. I knew that Sean was playing the last hand of the night and he was very short on chips, so I felt like he might not have even looked at his cards - and he hadn't - and he only had $3,000 so I had king-queen and felt like he might be all-in blind, and in fact he doesn't want to come back in two days, so that was pretty much a no-brainer call.
The other hand with Alan all-in, that was the other player - Alan was all-in for $400 and the guy raised and I had ace-king suited in the small blind and I don't play like Internet players, I play differently, so I just called. And the flop came A-4-3 and I bet right at him, it was an ace-high flop, to let him know I had an ace. I figured if he had ace-queen I could bet it all the way.
He raised me, so I thought, well, I figured I had him. I didn't think he had a small pair, so I re-raised and he said all-in. I figured at that point we had the same hand, but he had ace-queen, which is horrifyingly bad, because I'll never, ever, ever be behind in that spot, ever, I promise.
And so the money went in and Alan won the side pot, which I could care less about, and that pot propelled me to right around the $60,000 mark. I got moved to a different table, a little tougher, short-handed, and nothing really happened there but I was happy to break about even.
What have your impressions been of the World Series here in London overall?
It's been great, you know. Obviously the one difference between tournaments like for example the EPT is the media coverage. The EPT has got a lot more, while here you have restrictions on what you can film and things like that. And that certainly hurts the event, it hurts the World Series of Poker, and it hurts the sport in general. It's not something that I think was a good decision, but it's been done, so what can you do?
Were you surprised that the WSOPE got 362 entrants in the Main Event?
Not really. It is a big event; it is a high buy-in event, but it is a World Series event, so it's going to bring all of the guys out of the woodwork who want to try and win a bracelet.
On that note, Jeffrey Pollack's been quoted as saying the three European events are Events number 56, 57, and 58 on the WSOP schedule. Do you agree?
Well yeah, I mean I've thought about it and I've sort of been on the fence; I've gone back and forth, but if it's going to become a mainstay and it's going to become a yearly thing then I think it should become as prestigious as the ones that are in the U.S.
I personally have always felt like if it was a real world championship - and I know this would never happen - the idea that it always is played in the U.S. is completely unfair to those players in other countries. I feel like it almost should be like the Olympics, where you have to bid for the World Series of Poker.
Maybe down the road we'll actually have a legitimate world championship, where every two years a host site plays a huge buy-in event. Maybe I'll come up with some ideas.
You just played in the World Cup of Poker for Team Canada in Barcelona. Can you talk about that experience?
That was fun. For me, I was torn, because I'm of Romanian descent and I speak Romanian, but of course the Canadians were in there and I was playing for the Canadian team. We did as much as we could; it really didn't go well in the final.
I didn't really have a chance by the time I got in there, although if I would have won that one pot... It was weird, because I thought the U.S. played the worst out of all of the teams, but they ended up hitting three outers and wound up winning.
They really sucked out like major, even in the final. I mean they were all-in with K-J against K-Q, and of course Shaun had a hand with K-J against two sevens with me, but otherwise, it was really just like it was destiny for them.
I was disappointed to see the Romanians lose, because for them, it was as big as the legitimate World Cup. I think they cared more than any other team.
Was there any conflict for you in deciding whether to play for Canada or Romania?
I don't think there was, for me, but I think [people might have perceived that there was]. I had to be very careful about the way that I handled it, I thought, because while I was definitely rooting for Canada I was rooting for Romania to come in second. Except when we were out, and then I wanted to kick the Americans' asses.
Your World Cup experiences were probably facilitated by your recent decision to join Team PokerStars.com. Has that had an effect on your career as a poker player?
Well, I mean, not really. The decisions I've made to come over to Europe were kind of my own anyway, but it has sort of revitalized my spirit for poker a little bit, you know? Now I feel a little more responsible for playing well and doing my best, and right now I'm actually trying harder at poker than ever before. I'm playing online more against some of the better players, and I'm learning that they're nowhere near as good as I thought!
That's awesome. Thanks very much, Daniel.
You got it. Cheers.
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Negreanu's Team Canada finished in fourth place at the World Cup of Poker, with his Romanian friends finishing in second to the hated American squad. More recently, however, Negreanu was on hand to watch friend Jennifer Harman finish second in the £2,500 H.O.R.S.E. event a few nights ago.
Despite having had his luggage lost in the flight from Barcelona to London, Negreanu has appeared his trademark self so far this week - personable, chatty and an absolute force at the tables. There is very little that would benefit the WSOP more than having Kid Poker at the final table for its first European Main Event, and if Negreanu can keep up his strong play, making the final nine should pose no challenge at all.