Daniel Negreanu Q&A: Winning POY, WSOPE, Traveling Less

It’s hard to think of a greater moment for world-renowned poker pro Daniel Negreanu.

Negreanu won the 2013 WSOPE High Roller for €725,000, secured POY, took down his sixth bracelet all while being cheered on by a fervent rail yesterday.

It was a landmark moment for the Canadian pro who has now been playing poker for nearly two decades.

So what’s next for the iconic poker pro? Just after winning Negreanu did a lengthy Q&A session with the gathered press.

Here’s what Kid Poker had to say.

PokerListings.com: It’s a tremendous achievement winning WSOP Player of the Year and your sixth bracelet in the same day. Which one means more to you?

Daniel Negreanu
One happy Kid Poker.

Daniel Negreanu: Oh boy. I gotta be honest with you, Player of the Year is a big deal to me. It’s always my goal every year. I know that I’ll win bracelets. I’m thankful to have six now, which puts me back in the race in terms of the all-time players.

But Player of the Year Twice? It really just cements me in a place where I always thought I belonged. I’ve gone through periods of time where I second-guessed myself and doubted myself.

I thought, “Maybe these kids are just so much better than me that I won’t be able to succeed.”

When I had faith in myself and believed that I had game, everything turned around for me.

I proved it to myself. I’m a bigger critic than anyone on the forums. If I don’t win something, I’m my biggest critic.

PL: Recently you’ve started talking about traveling less. Do you think you would be able to stay away from all this?

I’m always going to be a poker player. That’s never going to be something that’s not part of my life. Thankfully the WSOP is in Vegas, where I live for now.

But yeah, I’ve done so much in poker and I’ve learned that true happiness comes from a balanced life. Just on this trip I was fortunate enough to have a friend with me so that I’ve actually gone out and seen the city.

In my early 20s it was tracksuits, my hat and poker. I was in and out.

Now I’m really experiencing life and the joys of traveling. If I do continue to travel for poker tournaments I’m going to add a few days so I can actually be a tourist.

PL: On that note, how nice was it to have some support this time around?

WSOP Bracelet Winner Daniel Negreanu2013 WSOP EuropeEV0725K NLH High RollerFinal TableGiron7JG9395
Daniel Negreanu and his friend Laura

Honestly it’s rare I have someone to support me. I know a lot of people usually have a big rail and when I win, I don’t. Having friends here made a world of difference for me. It’s one of the things that’s changed for me in the last year. I’ve got a much wider scope of friends.

Through the last 10 years of becoming a top pro I sort of secluded myself. I had my little group of people that worked for me.

Having a real group of friends that love me for me is something that’s really important to me.

PL: You came into this final table last in chips with a really tough lineup. At what point did you say to yourself “I’m going to win this”?

I honestly felt like I was going to win it the whole time. I played the WSOPE Main Event earlier this week and I sat with 10-15 big blinds the whole tournament. I was fighting, I wasn’t going to get knocked out.

I got knocked out of that one but I felt like it was going to happen again. Once I doubled up and got up to about 20 big blinds, I was so close to the average in my mind.

When I doubled again I saw the faces around me. I knew I had an opportunity to win. When I got a million chips I was like “This is no joke.”

PL: Can you talk about the lineup at the final table?

Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu after doubling at the final table.

The one thing that’s different poker now, compared to 2004, is that when there are two tables left it’s like pulling teeth.

In the old days I could have coasted to eighth no problem. Not with these 16 players. It was a murderer’s row with Phil Ivey, Jason Mercier and all the superstars.

The amount of mistakes made in tournaments these days are so minimal. You have to capitalize on every little bit that you can. 

These are all high rollers and they were all super good.

PL: Was your goal heading into the day to make eighth to win POY?

No. My goal is always to win but that was my primary stopover. I joked that once I got eighth I was going to take a bow and go on to win a bracelet and that’s what happened. 

PL: First player to win the WSOP triple crown, you talked about how important it is to globalize the brand. Can you expand on that?

Well again a lot of people in the poker industry debate whether the WSOP should take place outside the United States and I always go back to the fact that it’s called the WORLD Series of Poker.

When you look at the scope of it, I think it shows a respect to the rest of the world. It gives some players home field advantage. For instance there were a lot more French players in this tournament. I think it’s important what the WSOP has done and I support it whole-heartedly.

The WSOP respects the value of the bracelet and that’s why Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth come to these tournaments. It’s because the bracelet is so pure. 

Daniel Negreanu
Old-school Daniel Negreanu

PL: How does winning POY this year compare to the one you picked up in 2004?

2004 was just such a different time for me. In 2004 I developed a strategy of poker that was so advanced – for the time – it was easy.

Today the majority of players you see here are adopting a small-ball type strategy.

Back in 2004 people were raising four times the blind. I was making it 2.5X and getting laughed at. But I kept winning so people started noticing.

For me personally this one means a lot more to me. It was more difficult to win. I went to Australia, grinded Las Vegas and then came here and won the very last one.

I love drama!

What’s better than bottom of the ninth, bases loaded? I love it.

It reminds me of 2004 when I won the very last tournament of the year to clinch POY. I’m a drama queen I guess.

PL: Sixth bracelet, WSOP POY and big leads in almost every POY there is. Is it a little bit sweeter having called your shot pretty much from the beginning of the year?

It is. But there’s also a few other things. I’ve taken some flack that I was in this Choice Center thing, which was a great experience for me. I just let the results do the talking.

Outside of that, the sweetest thing is this:

You don’t have to 3-Bet to win at poker. My 3-Bet percentage is like .0003% and I do just fine.

I joked about how all the 5 and 6-Bettors are gone but really that’s just not the way to go. The real way to play poker is to play flops. If you’re not a good flop player you won’t be consistent and you can’t handle longevity.

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