Interview: Daniel Negreanu - Isildur1 Was Playing ABC For The Most Part

    • Lanfear81
      Lanfear81
      HeadAdmin
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      Lid sinds: 04.11.2007 Posts: 25,898

      Daniel Negreanu: Isildur1 Was Playing ABC For The Most Part


      This is the first of a two-part interview we've conducted with Daniel Negreanu. In part one, Kid Poker provides insight on his heads-up battles against Isildur1, and he tells us how he improved his online game.


      With over $14m in live tournament winnings, Daniel Negreanu may be the most famous poker player in the world. He is adored by poker fans but is a magnet for controversy due to his willingness to express his opinions on most topics. There are a lot of things going on right now in the poker world and in Daniel's life, so PokerStrategy.com got the couch out for the Canadian at the WSOPE in Cannes.

      AdminPokerStrategy.com:
      Daniel, how was your WCOOP this year? Can you tell us about some of the highs and lows?

      Daniel Negreanu: The WCOOP was interesting because I might have been the only player in the world who played it from four different countries. I started in Barcelona, and then went to Montenegro, followed by Budapest, and then I finished the long run in London where I locked myself in a hotel room.

      It started out weird; every day I was cashing in at least one event- nothing too major, but I was getting consistently deep. I was cutting through 2,000+ player fields without getting a big score.

      My two highlights of the WCOOP would be that I made the semi-final in the heads-up tournament, and then I came in fifth in the 8-game where I was chip leader late. That was annoying because if I had won, I would have been WCOOP player of the year. I ended up coming third and I won myself a chip set.

      Help from Lex With the Fundamental Stuff


      A familiar Smile: Daniel Negreanu
      AdminPokerStrategy.com: Was that the first time you'd ever grinded the WCOOP from start to finish?

      Daniel Negreanu: It was the first time I'd ever taken it seriously for the whole stretch. I'd never really done a lot in terms of having tracking software, taking notes, and checking websites to research players and to see how they play. I took it very seriously this time, and I think it helped me make a lot of right decisions in marginal spots.  


      AdminPokerStrategy.com: Can you tell us about working with Lex Veldhuis to improve your online game? What are the major things he helped you with, and what specific technical changes to what you were doing surprised you the most?

      Daniel Negreanu: I got his help in early 2010 when I was playing the $100/$200 games online. It was more me asking questions about stuff I didn't know, fundamental stuff that the online guys had figured out. For example, the range you can defend the big blind with- my range was too wide.

      I first started noticing that I was playing about 35% of hands and the winners were playing 26/27%, and I couldn't figure out how to play any tighter. I couldn't see any hands I could be folding. Then it came out that in the BB, against good players, I was defending way too light with hands like king-three suited. I would never have folded hands like that before because poker was much easier.

      I would also ask things like "how many big blinds do you need to be able to call with pocket pairs out of position and make it profitable?" It was stuff like that and it's not difficult to learn. It's not really the poker parts; it's just the technical fundamental aspects that will cost you money over the long-run.  

      Poker in 2004 Much Easier- Time to Adjust Now

      Daniel on High Stakes Poker
      AdminPokerStrategy.com: Did you find it necessary to rely more on stats than on the instincts that made you so successful? 

      Daniel Negreanu: Playing online you don't get much opportunity to use your instincts much anyway. The reason why I was so exploitable and the tables would fill up so quickly was that there were fundamental things I was doing wrong that can't be overcome in the long-term. So once I fixed that and I know the other guys know that, it became a game of post-flop play.

      I tightened up, fixed the pre-flop fundamental stuff and three-bet more than I would have before. I've also become way more aggressive in certain spots and am taking more risks than I would have back in 2004 as it was so much easier back then. People made so many mistakes that I didn't have to take many risks.  


      AdminPokerStrategy.com: What were the biggest challenges when playing Isildur1?

      Daniel Negreanu: The biggest thing for me going into the first match was that I had no idea how he played, I only knew what I had heard by word of mouth. I looked at some of the hands he'd played in PLO but he hadn't played much in No-Limit. In PLO he seemed to play pretty well but in No-Limit he wasn't playing crazy at all, he was playing pretty tight and ABC for the most part.

      A lot of what people told me to expect wasn't really happening. He was supposed to be four-betting me a lot but he didn't four-bet me once, until the very last hand where I just wanted to get it in as I was getting buried.

      What surprised me most in the first match was that he was way more solid and he had it way more often than people would expect as they think it's Isildur and he's crazy.    

      ABC-Poker from Isildur1 and a Strategy Against it

      AdminPokerStrategy.com: Did you put a lot of work in between the first and second matches?

      Daniel Negreanu: Yeah. I got a couple of guys to my house. Richard Lyndaker, who's "nutshinho" online, Tom Marchese, and Bill Reynolds came over to my house and we went over some of the bigger hands and we adjusted a couple of things. They were things that I was already doing and they agreed that they were good moves.

      My strategy going in the first time was min-raising buttons and betting half pot and his was three x-ing buttons and five x-ing, then betting 80% of pot on flop. So he's playing much higher variance. My strategy works very well against average players but against Isildur it was best to mimic him. So in the next match I started three x-ing and betting 80% of the pot on flops, too.


      AdminPokerStrategy.com: I know you mentioned at EPT Vienna last year that the young internet-bred kids are great at playing the 20-30 bb stacks and that you needed to get better at that. Do you think you have improved in this area, and how?

      Now kind of an online guy: Daniel
      Daniel Negreanu: One of the things I've done this year where I've been ridiculously successful was playing the $5k heads-up sit and go's. A lot of them are turbo and some are not, but being involved in more situations where you have eight or nine big blinds is helpful. You’re not wondering, "What do I do here?" Some of the guys I've been having an argument online with (Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth) still say you have to play by feel. NO you don't!

      There's a RIGHT answer and a WRONG answer. When you're that short you just need to know the math. Olivier Busquet for example isn't going to make any mistakes with ten big blinds, whereas an older school player is going to make a lot as they just don't know the numbers.

      I still don't think I have it all figured out, but I'm definitely more apt at getting it in than I used to be. I was reading some of the stuff that Hellmuth was doing with nine big blinds (Editor’s note: raise-folding in WSOPE Event #1) and I was thinking, that's not something I would do, but I was definitely closer to that before- now I kind of am somewhere in the middle.

      I don't think that with 15 big blinds you need to be shipping as much as some people are but I definitely think that Phil takes it to the extreme. When you see it, you know it's clearly a mistake but I know how his brain works. I have a similar small-ball approach but he's not making the adjustment when he's short, and he can't be doing that anymore. You can't get away with that in poker anymore, you have to play using math. 


      In part two of the interview, things get delicate! Daniel will tell us if he thinks the brand FTP can be rescued and that he doesn't trust Annie Duke.

      by Marc Convey

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    • Lanfear81
      Lanfear81
      HeadAdmin
      HeadAdmin
      Lid sinds: 04.11.2007 Posts: 25,898

      Daniel Negreanu: There Was Too Much Damage Done to FTP


      In the second part of our interview with PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu things get delicate! As always, Daniel speaks what is on his mind. Annie Duke and the brand FTP belong to his targets.


      >AdminPokerStrategy.com: You decided not to participate in the Epic Poker League for both personal reasons and because you thought the series wouldn't be a success- can you explain this a bit more? After the second event's weak attendance, do you think you've been proven right?

      Daniel Negreanu: I wouldn't say that I've already been proven correct yet. From what I've heard (I haven't seen it yet), the product doesn't have good commentary. Commentary is so important, and hiring Pat O'Brien was a mistake from what I'm hearing. He doesn't know anything about poker, and if they are going to go that route they would've been better going with someone a lot more knowledgeable.

      As far as me being proven correct, I don't think the thing has legs. The fact that they've gotten two shows off the ground proves me wrong if anything. I didn't think they'd get this far as I didn't think anyone was willing to put money into it. They've obviously found someone willing to invest in it, but long-term I still don't think it has any chance of success.

      I personally don't trust, whatsoever, Jeffrey Pollack or Annie Duke. I don't trust them to sign a release and use my name and image for anything at all, nothing. There were some issues before with the WPT and signing the release there. That was sorted though as I have some trust for them, but I have no trust in Jeffrey or Annie.
          

      "As a community, we are a bunch of spineless cowards"

      AdminPokerStrategy.com: After the recent details that have come out in the case the DOJ has brought against FTP, do you think Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson can ever show their faces again if they don't pay back the dividends they received to the players?



      Daniel Negreanu: The funny thing about the poker world is that we're a bunch of wimps. On the internet everyone says "they owe us money!" but to their faces they say nothing. Russ Hamilton is still playing in Florida right now and nobody is saying anything to him. I think they might be embarrassed to show up but I honestly think that as a community, we are a bunch of spineless cowards that run.

      Everyone is so afraid to rock the boat and say anything publicly. That's why a lot of these guys are allowed to get away with what they're getting away with. Not them specifically but others like the UB guys. We give them a second chance but what the f##k for? WHY? This isn't a 13 year-old boy who made a boo-boo. These guys are adults that made mistakes that should ostracise them from the poker community forever.

      I don't think you're going to see them around for a couple of years. If they do repay the players, and I hope they do, I think they'll return and think that they are totally justified in doing so because they think they did every thing right. Lederer is not a bad person but he is absolutely the most arrogant guy I have ever met in my life. I've never met anyone who talks to everyone like they are six years old and stupid. I don't think he's a bad guy (though I do think his sister is a bad person), I just think he's incompetent and arrogant which is a bad combination.


      "I think there's been too much damage done"

      AdminPokerStrategy.com: How aware do you think the other Team Full Tilt players were of what was happening?

      Daniel Negreanu: My opinion is, outside of the board and Ray Bitar, who is a complete buffoon, I don't think anybody had a clue. I can say with almost certainty that a lot of the friends I have there didn’t have a clue, otherwise they would have been mortified at what was happening.

      Daniel at the PCA
      God forbid anything like that happened at the company I work for, I'd be mortified too, and it wouldn't necessarily be my fault. I put the blame on the people making the decisions, and that's Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson. Those three, the unholy trinity, are the ones who have totally screwed a lot of people in the poker world.     

      AdminPokerStrategy.com: Do you think the brand can be saved if someone new comes in and takes over or has too much damage been done?

      Daniel Negreanu: I think there's been too much damage done. It was so public and the term "Ponzi scheme" was thrown about, and that's such a negative term. I don't think they would get the support of the Team Pros anymore and it would be difficult to keep it intact. I think it's a mistake to even try. If you want to start a site, start something new.

      25-Year-Old Daniel Should Stay out of Media And Just Play Poker

      AdminPokerStrategy.com: Do you think that online poker worldwide needs to be regulated to ensure its long-term success?

      Daniel Negreanu: I think online poker today is successful already. The fact that it's regulated in France and in Italy is trendsetting for the rest of the world to get onboard. You have to ask yourself though- is it really necessary to make it better? For the US obviously anything is better at this point as they have nothing. It remains to be seen how the government influence will affect it. What if they open up in the US and say that the rake is 5% a hand? No one knows what will happen.


      AdminPokerStrategy.com: If you could go back to speak to a 25 year-old Daniel Negreanu, what one piece of life advice and one piece of poker advice would you give him?

      Daniel Negreanu: The number one thing would be (I hope this doesn't come off bad) not to stay in relationships if you know they are over. Don't stay in them longer than you need to and don't settle for anything that's just okay.

      Proud mom: Daniel winning a tournament
      Poker wise? If I was 25 again I would give advise myself to stay away from the media, forget about any interviews and just play poker. I would literally just take the Phil Ivey route and just play poker for a living and improve my quality of life. All the other stuff has a negative effect of the quality of my life, at this point.


      AdminPokerStrategy.com: And in reverse, what would you like to take from a 25 year-old you that you might have lost or changed over the years?

      Daniel Negreanu: To have the freedom to be as honest I wanted to be about anything, topic wise. That's something I feel I need to do nowadays to help me to be who I really am. I don't like to pull punches- I like to tell it how it is. I like to be real and I realise that's controversial. I don't mind though, as I like to be controversial. If that means I make enemies along the way then that's okay as I probably wouldn't have been friends with those people anyway. I'd rather be honest. If I like you, I talk to you. If I don't... well.

      I don't like the way the poker world works like that. The motto from the "Old School" was that if someone was cheating, you would just shut up and not say anything. I don't buy that. People should talk more, and if they did then fewer bad things would happen like the UB scandal and of course the one that followed.   


      AdminPokerStrategy.com: You seem to keep yourself motivated in poker by setting small challenges for yourself. What's the next challenge on your horizon?

      Daniel Negreanu: I think my next challenge is going to be non-poker related to be honest. I'm sick of travelling completely, I'm over it. I need to be able to figure out how I'm going to be able to structure a life that is just healthy and peaceful and comfortable. I don't want stress, I want routine and comfort. I don't want to travel for the rest of my life.

      I don't mind the idea of just playing online as it's something I've grown to love over the past year-and-a-half.

      A final note from the Marc Convey who conducted this interview:

      "Whether you like or loath Negreanu, agree or disagree with what he says; you can't disagree that the man has passion. He comes across as caring a lot for the game that he has been an integral part of growing and does not want to see this trend reversing too much.

      He is in fact a one-man PR dream for his sponsors, most of the time. It might be from this seemingly untouchable position that he can speak out on several issues without suffering too much from the feedback. Too much might be said in the heat of the moment or via the wrong channels, but isn't it better that these sort of issues are out in the open? Most of the recent poker world's problems have stemmed from unethical practices taking place by a minority and behind closed doors.

      It looks like we won't be seeing as much of him on the live circuit for a while as he addresses his quality of life/travel balance but don't expect radio silence throughout this period."