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DEAL Daniel Negreanu
k The i d
stays in the picture Neil stoddart
Ross Jarvis travels back in time with Daniel Negreanu to compare the poker world of Kid Pokerâ€™s youth to the radically different one he rules today
24 POKERPLAYER www.gambleaware.co.uk
n a poker world filled with outlandish nicknames like ‘Fossilman’ and ‘El Matador’ it is Daniel Negreanu’s moniker of ‘Kid Poker’ that seems most out of place. It was fitting back in 2004 when the 29-year-old Negreanu exploded into the public consciousness by winning back-to-back WPT titles, his youthful exuberance a magnet for the TV cameras. In 2013, it’s a very different Daniel that sits before me. He still has the same passion for poker and childlike curiosity he has always had, but now 38, he exhibits an air of authority that never used to exist. ‘I definitely feel a responsibility to treat poker well and act like an ambassador. I’m not afraid to speak out and when I do people should listen. When I say something is bad for poker – like UltimateBet or Epic Poker – I have been right. I’m like Jack Bauer in 24, eventually you have to give this guy the benefit of the doubt!’ Today, Negreanu’s ire is centred squarely on one Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan, who is holding up the filming of a PokerStars vs Full Tilt Poker online grudge match by being four hours late to the Victoria casino in London. Negreanu thinks that because Dwan ‘plays such high stakes and the media is not his passion he neglects it,’ before following with the telling barb. ‘If you’re a sponsored player and you get paid then you better do those things or you are disrespecting your organisation and the game. If you aren’t prepared to do that then don’t wear the patch.’ It’s certainly not the last time Tom Dwan’s name pops up when talking to Negreanu – and his views are well worth the wait.
I’m not afraid to speak out and when I do people should listen
Up until just recently, Negreanu had been in the news far more for what he had said than what he had done at the poker table. One of the downsides of being such an outspoken, engaging character is that it is easy to forget he is also damn good at poker. In early April he won the WSOP Asia-Pacific main event for $1.1 million, his biggest score since 2004 and first major win since 2008. Then a month later he finished fourth in the EPT Grand Final – ensuring that for the time being he will be in the headlines for the reasons he most wants. These scores have propelled him to third place on the all-time tournament winnings list and he is just the latest of the poker old guard – after Esfandiari, Hellmuth and Matusow – to have had major results recently. But what does it really mean to Negreanu to win that amount of money now? He’s already got a fat contract as the marquee name on Team PokerStars Pro, has been a winner in high-stakes cash games for years and is one of the most famous pros in the world. Surely the game was more exciting for Kid Poker when he was just another in a long line of wannabes? ‘I don’t miss being on the road for four months at a time playing small tournaments, but I did love the grind of needing to win. There was July 2013 POKERPLAYER 25
over the top CardRunners pro Ed Miller explains how you can use the overbet to your advantage in micro-stakes online cash games
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If you are reading this strategy piece you are probably okay at poker, but there are always plays you can add to your game. There’s nothing here that will tear down your entire game and ask you to start over – the goal is to give you food for thought and to think outside of the box with new plays that will hopefully give the regulars in your games fits. When people in poker talk about playing the player it essentially means you are looking for the right non-standard lines to use at the right times. It is tough to move up in stakes these days. It used to be a lot easier. I have been playing poker for over ten years and it’s tougher than it has ever been. My goal here is to show you the work you need to do to move up, whatever stakes you play and whatever your goals are. To move up at poker requires work away from the table, unless you’re some kind of freak player. For most people they need to think about what they are doing away from the table, write things down and work through problems before they can really add something meaningful to their games. Unless you actively think about the advice here it will not help that much. You must do the homework.
What micro-stakes players learn There are certain things that all microstakes players learn if they are looking to get better at poker. One is how to play a solid preflop strategy. This includes not limping in with trash. Then there is learning how not to stack off with second-best hands. You may take this for granted now but it is a huge evolution in any microstakes player to learn that when the big bets come out you can’t just be stacking off – you have to learn how to get away from hands. Another key thing all micro-stakers learn is how to play position, including attacking the blinds, barrelling and so forth. All of this involves some basic hand reading. You wont be able to succeed at these stakes without a basic appreciation of hand reading. These skills will help you hold your own online in something like a $10NL or $25NL game.
will not be profitable. This is learning primarily about hand values more than anything else. There is not a whole lot of analysing in-depth about the other players. At this point your analysis will rarely go beyond broad strokes such as ‘this guy is tight’ or ‘this guy is loose’. You are not deconstructing what they are doing to try to take advantage of them. Why are you focusing on the card stuff when everyone seems to agree that the key to poker is playing the player? It’s because everything you learn in the micro-stakes is designed to stop you losing! The whole goal is do not lose money. If you happen to win it’s because players in your game are dumping money around and you happen to be there to get
Why do micro-stakes players learn these things? If you ask anybody if poker is a card game they say no, poker is a game where you play the player. Everything is playerdependent. If your opponent is doing this then you do that and vice-versa. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that, yet I have just shown you that within that, you have learned how to play your cards and not just the player. You have learned that one pair when somebody makes a big raise is often not good. You have learned that a certain hand in a certain position probably
I have been playing poker for over ten years and it’s tougher than it has ever been
Poker is a game where you play the player. Everything is playerdependent
some. If you can just focus on not losing and get in games with terrible players then you are likely to win. That is how a beginner will learn how to win at poker.
What micro-stakes players DON’T learn I see micro-stakes regs building up a wall around themselves where they are playing not to lose. This is especially true if they are mass multi-tabling. They don’t learn how to beat up other regs playing the same. Anyone playing micro-stakes at the reg level will consistently be doing things that are exploitable, however most of the regs are content just to break-even with the other regs! I hear all the time that it is all about game selection – and to a certain extent it is – but, unfortunately, if you have any hope of moving up in stakes significantly then this approach is not good enough! If you can’t beat the microstakes regs in your games then take a shot in a $5/$10 game and you will be a massive fish. That shows you where the difference is in terms of skill level. If you are not actively trying to beat the other regs you are a fish too. And unfortunately there just aren’t enough wandering idiots these days to do well at poker without getting good at the game.
Overbetting This is the first possible weapon you can use (out of dozens) to help you
July 2013 POKERPLAYER 55
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