Talking to Sir Negreanu
This week is the PokerStars European Poker Tour at Barcelona and Casino Barcelona is just loaded with huge personalities and professional poker players. We had the pleasure to meet Canadian poker star Daniel Negreanu for a quick talk about poker: differences in poker between nowadays and before, strategy, mental approaches and his personal experience as a player. The six times WSOP bracelet winner shared with us all his wisdom and advice. Keep reading!
-First of all thank you so much for having us. Let me start for one question I'm sure you've been asked many times, but tells us, how do you end up playing poker?
- When I was a boy I started playing pool when I was like fourteen-fifteen and then by the time I was about seventeen the guys at the pool halls introduced me to poker. And the first time I saw it I was just a game block. I brought ten dollars, lost my ten dollars but I had six beers so I watched the game for a while and then I noticed like the same guys kept winning so I was more intrigued by the game and I wanted to like get better at it so I started right around then.
-More than 20 years in poker, 2nd in the All time money list, 6 WSOP bracelets...What tournament you haven't won yet?
-I was close a few times to win an EPT and I had some bad luck and MonteCarlo and Vienna and I have not won EPT Barcelona yet but it's my favorite stop so there's always such a big field here in Barcelona so yes, that would be really nice to win one here.
-I was just about to ask you for your favorite stop of the international circuit.
-My number one spot on EPT is definitely Barcelona. Yeah, I love it here and you can see, it's well attended 'cause I think people love the exactly the location: is right on the beach, you have the restaurants, you have a good atmosphere, the weather is great... And apart from that I think the World Series in Vegas because it's home for me.
But yes, other than Barcelona I haven't found anything that compares to it.
-You've said in previous interviews that life is just gambling, in the sense that every action we take is in a certain way, gambling for an option or another, like getting married, opening a business etc. Right, if you were not playing poker, what would you be gambling at?
-If wasn't a poker player I'd have spent my early years in Hollywood probably being a waiter because I'm trying to be an actor.
So I would have like been going on auditions and gambling on myself in my future that I could be a successful actor or writer or director or something like that.
-I'm sure you probably have a few of them but any badbeat that you remember specially?
-There's one that it wasn't even that bad in terms of like you know it was a coin flip but the situation what really hit me when
I was young. It was in 2000 I was at final 12 of the main event at the WSOP. I was chip leader and then I played a hand with Carlos Mortensen and this guy Henry Kautsky who played a pair of sixes and went crazy. I had ace-king and he put all his money with two six which which is a big mistake and the flop was Jack-ten so I need a Ace-king or a queen and I would have all the chips and I didn't catch in and I was shorted-stack and I went broke in eleventh place after being twelve. I remember just that moment 'cause you know, I was probably too young and if I look back now I wouldn't even have played the hand, I would have just folded it. But he's the one who made a mistake (laughs).
-Has your game changed a lot since you started played up to nowadays?
-Oh yeah If I would go back to 2000 with the game that I have now the whole thing would have been different and I would have one the tournament almost for sure because the game was much easier back then and I am much better now.
-Would you say that your game has turned wiser than before?
-Actually more risky. Yes, in 2004 I didn't have to take risks because everyone else made such a big mistakes so I could sit back and wait for them to do something stupid. Now, I have to force the mistakes so think of like back then I just didn't have to take any risks I played safe you know. Now, because players are so good, I have to take some more risks and do some more big bluffing and sometimes it won't work and you look stupid so before I didn't have to do that.
-Yes, that's interesting that you mean that at the moment poker players are much better than before.
-Yeah there's a couple reasons one you know PokeStars right? people can play online and these young guys get very good very very quickly. Also now that there's a lot of computer software that it can teach you how to play, so when I learned you know we would talk about hands "what do you think,what do you think" but now the kids go "let's put in the computer and see what the computer thinks" and gives them like the right answer. So that makes a lot more easy to study.
-What do you prefer online or live poker?
-I grew up playing live poker I love the comfort in being able to play online because it's just you know relaxing and you can just be at home doing other things, playing with your dog or whatever but as far as like my best skill set I think being able to see the people, you know, play without a computer it's probably better for me.
-Have you ever had big periods of bad luck?
That's a very important question because like over twenty years everybody who plays over twenty years is going to go through that and it's a real test of who you are. The hardest skill that needs to be learned as a player is am I losing because it's bad luck? or am I losing because I'm not playing very well? or am I having bad luck and playing really poorly as a result? so, as I've gotten older I have a much better like understanding of is it me? or is it bad luck? But when I was younger in my early twenties the first five six times I went to Las last Vegas I kept going broke and going broke and I was having bad luck for sure, but I also wasn't playing as well when I was having bad luck so as I got older I learned how to, you know, really be focused on, okay so I lost four days in a row but I played amazing and I can do that now.
-Do still study poker or have any poker routines?
-I don't watch me as much but I watch my opponents to see what mistakes they're making or see if I can pick up any body language tells so I want to look at their eyes, their hands, and see if I can pick up,you know, when they're bluffing do they look different?
-You're very well known for reading tells and minds.
-Yeah, that's my that's my advantage and my strength because a lot of the young guys they know the mathematics and all that with the computers better but I can sometimes see things and people like, you know, I look at the different parts of the body and if you can sens something it can help you make avery good decision.
-Do you see yourself playing poker like forever?
I play less poker today than I played when I was twenty five and I'm sure I'll play less poker when I'm fifty and sixty but I'm always gonna play. There's no reason to quit it's not like I'm a soccer player or you know have a basketball player where I get old I can't play no more. My mind will be sharp I'm gonna stay in good shape physically and mentally so I'll be playing when I'm in my seventies and eighties too.
- Huge pleasure to speak with you and thank you so much for sharing all your experience with us.
-They were good questions. Thank you.