As you'd expect, Daniel Negreanu would love to play the Big One for One Drop Invitational happening in Monte Carlo this weekend.
With a €1 million buy-in - the highest ever in tournament poker - it's prime territory for the game's elite like Negreanu.
He's even in Monte Carlo as we speak, where the tournament will be played at the venerable Casino Monte Carlo.
But with an invite-only, recreational-player restricted field, Negreanu can't buy himself a seat. Instead he'll be playing the role of coach for the man behind the whole enterprise, One Drop founder Guy Laliberté.
Negreanu: I'm Not Driven By Money
On the cusp of the big event PokerListings Norway's Ole Erevik was fortunate to get an exclusive 30-minute interview via Skype, right in the middle of his preparations with Laliberté.
As always he was very forthcoming about his role in the event, his upcoming MasterClass at the Norwegian National Championships and, of course, his distaste for one particular US presidential candidate.
PL: You're in Monte Carlo right now where you'll attend the Big One for One Drop Invitational as Guy Laliberté's coach. How did that become a reality?
Happy to lend his expertise.
Daniel Negreanu: Well, (it was) quite simple. He reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to come down here for the week.
I arrived a bit early so we could go over some stuff with me being his coach. I support the event, I think it's good for poker, so I decided to make the trip.
PL: The Big One for One Drop is also a charity event. What are your thoughts on that?
DN: I think anytime poker can be associated with, and raising money for, good and worthy causes it's good on both fronts. It's good for the cause and good for poker to be associated with that.
PL: How is it coaching Guy Laliberté?
DN: It's actually quite easy because stylistically, the way that he wants to play and the way he thinks about the game, is pretty similar to mine.
So it makes sense that he asked me and I don't have to make any drastic changes to his game.
PL: Where does he have to improve?
DN: There are obviously more than a few spots but the main focus is short-stack play. He's comfortable seeing flops but there becomes a point in tournaments where you have to stop doing that and switch to the all-in or nothing strategy.
With a few tweaks, Guy's a favorite.
PL: Can you help him win?
DN: Yeah. I think he's actually one of the favorites. It's a field full of amateurs which makes it a little easier for him. I think that his style going in will give him a good chance to go deep.
PL: Have you made an agreement with him if he ends up as the winner? Is there something in it for you as well?
DN: A little bit. He gave me a small piece of his action just for a sweat.
PL: What are your thoughts about the tournament being an invitational?
DN: I think it's a good move. A couple of things need to change in poker. One is we've got to get a shot clock in most events.
And two, to answer the question, imagine you wanna have a game at your house, you can choose who you want to play with.
Guy obviously wants to play with recreationals and, most importantly, he was getting feedback from the recreationals that said 'I don't mind donating, I just don't want to be the sucker, just giving money to the pros.'
Not content as pro fodder.
This way they all have a much more equal chance of doing well.
PL: But I guess you would like to play the tournament as well?
DN: Obviously; it seems like a really good tournament for me.
PL: Taking money from the rich guys is something you would do any day of the week?
DN: You know, I don't care about the money, I never really did, even when I didn't have any.
I'm not driven by money. I think a lot of people that chase something because they want to make money from it, they are less likely to be successful than if they actually loved doing what they do and the money being a result of their hard work.
PL: What other plans do you have during your stay in Monte Carlo and what have you done already?
DN: The first two days I stayed with Guy on his yacht where we did some coaching, went over some things, had a little dinner and got together.
During the week we are attending a really beautiful party and there are a lot of festivities surrounding the tournament. But once the tournament starts I'll make sure that I'm there from the beginning so I can help him on the go.
PL: You're also visiting Norway, and our national championships, at the end of November where you are holding a MasterClass. What does it involve?
DN: First of all I have about a month to learn Norwegian, you think I can do it? I've got zero now.
Poker surging in Norway.
How do I say 'Hello, how are you?' (He actually did pretty well. 'Hei, hvordan går det?' almost without accent and great pronunciation.)
The MasterClass is basically the same thing I have done before. I'm presenting my strategies in terms of the mental game and I will talk about how to prepare for tournaments.
But most importantly, I want to give people the possibility to ask me questions that might help them improve their game and work one-on-one with them in a group setting.
PL: Your MasterClass is free to attend and should draw a full house. You could have charged something, but still you don't?
DN: As I said earlier, I don't care about the money. For example I did a Twitch stream with Jason Somerville where I gave away a lot of secrets on how to play the game and I don't get paid for that.
I do this because I enjoy it and think it's fun. And, also, I think it's good to give something back. I've had a good career, been lucky in my life and been able to make enough money where I don't need to charge people $40 to give them information.
PL: Why Norway?
DN: I've never been there before but it sounds fun and I think what's happening there is really cool. Poker seems popular in Norway.
You have poker on mainstream television, I've heard and seen the numbers from the Norwegian Championship and it seems to be growing.
As I have been asked to go a couple of times before, I decided to make the trip this year.
PL: You will be the National Championships' biggest attraction. Are you afraid you might steal some of the attention from the actual event?
DN: No, I don't think I will. The MasterClass is an addition to the event and I think it brings even more attention to the tournament and makes it a little more prestigious. Having me there I think helps.
PL: Are you going to play any poker?
DN: I'm not sure actually, we'll see what's on the schedule. At the moment I don't even know for how long I'm staying there (laughs).
I know I have to go to the Isle of Man after my trip to Norway to talk to the bosses of PokerStars about what's going on there.
Put your seatbelt on.
PL: What's your impression of Norwegian poker players?
DN: I have a lot of respect for their game. They play a completely different brand of poker than I do. Very aggressive, much more aggressive than I would be.
A lot of re-raising pre flop, playing big pots and playing high-level poker where they like to put you in difficult positions by forcing you to play the big pots. They are very tough to play against - the anti-small ballers, basically.
PL: Has it always been like that, or has their approach to the game changed overg the years?
DN: I think it has always been like that. Every time I see a Scandi I'm like 'Oh boy. Put your seatbelt on. These guys are going to gamble.'
PL: Do you like having them at your table?
DN: I much prefer playing against other types of players that play a little bit more like my style. The Norwegians, they force you to depend on luck a little bit more as they make the pots big and play aggressively.
It's just tough and I'd rather not be on a table full of Norwegians. Then I know that I need to make some hands and get lucky.
PL: Who is the best Norwegian poker player in your opinion?
DN: It´s hard to say. Johnny Lodden is Swedish or Norwegian? Oh, he's Norwegian, then I'll go with Johnny Lodden, hahaha!!
I've played a lot with him, he has good instincts and good reading abilities. He's a little more 'old school,' but he's a little wiser now.
Mind your business, gov't.
PL: What do you know about the Norwegian poker regulations and the Norwegian government's view on poker?
DN: I'm not deep into the Norwegian politics but I know that there has recently been some kind of acceptance of the game and that's a step in the right direction.
Because it is quite silly to say you can't play this game. What's next? You can't play chess, backgammon or other games?
I think, ultimately, the government shouldn't have a say on what I do in my house as long as I'm not hurting anybody else.
It just seems like regulations they shouldn't be involved in and I hope, eventually, the Norwegian government keeps their nose out of your business.
PL: You can't see any positive aspects in having some kind of restrictions?
DN: Let me ask you, should the government say 'You know what, you're drinking too much Coca Cola; it's addictive, so you can't drink it any more. Oh yeah, beer is addictive, you can't drink beer. And the caffeine in coffee means no more coffee because that's addictive too.'
It's really silly for the government to decide for people what is good or bad for them. I think it's always best to let the people decide what they want to do with their body or money.
PL: You've been heavily involved in the US presidential race. Where do you get this dedication from?
DN: I find politics interesting and important. Especially with what's going on now in America where it's beyond politics.
It's about allowing somebody who is morally repulsive be the face of the most powerful nation in the world.
I think a lot of people across the world are rightfully afraid of this man (Donald Trump).
For me, it's more like a stand for what's right and I don't mind if people don't like me anymore because they like Donald Trump. I don't really need people like that in my life.
PL: But he must me doing something right' after all there are millions of Americans voting for him?
DN: What he is doing is he's tapping into the most ugly parts of America. To people that are anti-gay, to people that are racists, to people that are xenophobic and afraid of Muslims.
I'll put it to you this way: If you're going to sit at a poker table and you have to chose between sitting at a table full of Trump supporters or not Trump supporters, the game with the Trump supporters is going to be very good because they are usually quite stupid!
PL: But as a Canadian you can't even vote …
DN: Not true. I got my US citizenship earlier this year just so that I can vote, and I will.
PL: Would you consider playing a game of poker with Donald Trump?
DN: I would play him a game of poker if the loser had to go to jail for the rest of his life and leave the country. And I would risk that, and sacrifice myself, to save the country - or the entire world - from that piece of shit. He's a danger to all of us.