Daniel Negreanu recently appeared on the podcast of one of the owners of Hustler Casino Live, Nick Vertucci. The conversation turned out to be very emotional.
— Welcome to the Nick Vertucci show! Lynne Ji and Daniel Negreanu are with me! Thanks for coming, man, how are you?
– Yes, everything is fine, how are you?
– Nothing much! Let's get straight to the point, I want to start with your 2023 year in poker. I have WSOP statistics here, you lost $740,000? I'm not kidding! I just think it's important for other players to know that even a professional of your level can have such a bad performance.
— I think it was a great episode, ha! The WSOP simply consists of tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $300 to $250,000. And so you win the $300 tournament, take 30th place, and receive $1,500. Well, who can say that this is not a cool deep run? I made money in 20 out of 70 tournaments, not too bad. But I played a tournament for $250,000, and two for $100,000 – it didn’t work out. So in the end, a few tournaments decided everything. Last year I did even worse at the WSOP, but at the end of the year, I won the Super High Roller Bowl for $300,000 (received $3.3 million). Before that, I was in the red for $1.1 million and ended the year with a profit of $1.6 million. In 2023, I am again in the red by about a million.
— $3.3 million in one tournament — that’s a good amount of money per hour!
– Yes, we managed to save the year. I'm literally the only high roller who openly publishes results every year. Since 2013 I have only had one negative year; in 2015 or 2016 I lost a million. Let's see how this year ends, there is still room for improvement – WSOP Europe is the same. In general, a lot of top players lost much more than me this year, believe me. They just don't report.
— How long have you been in the game? 20 years and a half?
– Yes, with a decent ponytail. Approximately 30 years.
– And still afloat! Few people can boast of this; you clearly know something about this game. What advice would you give to beginners who are now thinking about starting a poker career?
— Well, when I started, the poker world looked completely different. All you could do was sit down and play one table until your butt went numb. Today, players start online – and much faster than us old people, they learn what distance and variance are. But even under these conditions, it can be difficult to determine your real level. Many people have been confident for years that they are suitable, although in fact, they are not (and vice versa also happens). The variance is huge. When I was preparing for the match with Polk, my coaches and I watched simulations. Two absolutely identical bots play 10 million hands – and in the process, both have streaks of 90-100 buy-ins. Two identical bots!
– Tough, of course.
– Otherwise! When some popular young player wins a tournament, the press writes about him, everyone admires him. Okay, cool, well done! And then you look at the key hands that he won – and there are only coin flips. That is, on one river another card would fall, and the journalists would call someone else a top player.
I personally try to always keep a checklist in my head. Something like this:
1. Have I often played from behind?
2. How much did you lose after calling on the river?
3. Did you always sit short?
And if this didn't happen, then I’ll calmly go to the next tournament. In general, losing is not only normal but also useful. Only downswings can make you do something. When you win, don’t you care why? And as soon as you start filling it in, it suddenly becomes terribly interesting what you’re doing wrong. In life, by the way, it’s the same. You always need an incentive to stop going along the same lines.
– I have the same story! In the first sessions, I won $750,000, barely distinguishing hands. And then, when the fairy tale ended, I had to study.
— Your games in Hustler are, by the way, an ideal example of how poker works today. Those poker pros you invite are far from the top. But they play against dudes who don’t know a queen from a king. And this is what any good game looks like now: you just need to be friends with rich gambling addicts. I have friends who regularly play in such lineups – and they earn 10 times more than any famous top reg. The ability to get into such games is their main talent. And if you want to become a poker pro today (especially live), without this skill (alas!) you can’t get anywhere. It’s no longer possible to just come, sit down and play – you have to know the right people and kiss their ass.
– It's like that. Nowadays you can’t even find a good $25/$50 game, all the expensive tables are private.
— It’s good that all this still almost doesn’t affect tournaments. You probably won’t get into a good private game in Hollywood, but sit down in almost any tournament and play equally with everyone else. Even if you're fucking Martin Kabrhel!
— Why don’t you come to our stream? How many times have they called?
“You can’t even force me into cash games.” Once upon a time, I needed it to earn buy-ins for tournaments. Now what do I need this for? The only game that is at all interesting to me, in theory, is 8 games in Bobby's Room. Yes, it was fun there when Doyle was playing, everyone was talking and drinking. But today I don’t even go there! And to sit and play two cards is nothing to talk about...
I grinded cash when I was 20, so that now when I’m about to turn fifty, I can do only what I want. But I want to play high roller tournaments and compete on equal terms with the tops. And everything else to me sounds like work that I haven’t needed for a long time. So, Nick, would it be interesting for you to sit and play blackjack for $5 all day long? This is how I see the cache today for myself.
— Why do you need tournaments?
— Why do people play video games? Because it's fun! You accumulate experience and get achievements. MTT is my video game, and I am a character in it. This is not a story about money at all. I dedicated my life to poker because I always loved it, not to become rich. I don’t believe at all that you can do something strictly for money, without feeling passion for your business, and become successful. Why spend 40 hours a week doing something you don’t like?
“I’ve heard you call yourself an introvert more than once.” Comment on this?
— Yes, my personality type seems to be called “sociable introvert.” People always misunderstand what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert. If you are an introvert, this does not mean that you do not know how to communicate with people, or that you are afraid of them. These concepts describe strictly one thing – how you rest and recharge. When I communicate with people, I waste energy and get tired. And after that, I rest on the couch, alone. That’s why during breaks in tournaments I never go out to lunch with anyone, I just go to my room to catch my breath.
Extroverts, on the other hand, are energized when they interact with people. Luckily, Amanda is like me: when we have the choice of watching a movie at home or going to a party, we always choose to sit on the couch. And even when I’m alone, I can’t imagine how it’s possible to get bored: I have a laptop, a smartphone, books, and a gym. What else do you need?..
– How are things with Amanda? Did you tweet that you were buying a house?
– Yes, we’ve already bought it, we’ll be moving soon. When we got married, she moved in with me. But I think that newlyweds always need a new home that will be just theirs. Plus, Amanda really wants to live by the water, so we bought a house by Lake Las Vegas. It’s not very close, but you can buy housing for half the price of the same one in the city.
I have a lot of ideas about the arrangement: I’ll build myself a 90 square meter gym there, I’ll build a basketball court in the yard... So next year I’ll be filming vlogs from the WSOP from there. And I warned Amanda that I wasn’t going to drive 40 minutes back and forth every day, I was going to live in a hotel.
— (Lynne) What is the main advantage of family life? And what did you discover for yourself when you got married?
– Listen, in the first months of Covid and lockdown, I finally learned what true love is. For the first time in my life, I told someone “I love you” and understood what those words really meant. When you love a person exactly as he is – and not as he can become when he gets rid of some shortcomings. Amanda is the only person in the world with whom I can be 100% myself. And when we got married, I felt like I finally got everything I dreamed of in life.
And I've never had anything like this before! You know, at the age of 20, everyone says that they don’t care what others think – but in fact, everyone is wildly worried about it. At 30 you worry less. And after forty, if everything has worked out in life, you just don’t care anymore! I live as I live, everything is fine with me, if you don’t like something, well, go to hell.
I used to argue a lot with people on Twitter, but that too went away as I got older. We're all fucking different – we all have some good stuff and some shitty stuff. People are so tired of dividing everything into black and white, flocking together according to their interests, and judging everyone else. “What did you write on social media? Well, clearly, you're an asshole. But we’re going to put that guy to death for a tweet from 20 years ago.” This is all such nonsense! I want to believe that I can be friends with a person, even if he has different views. I'll make fun of him, let him troll me back – that's fine. But why should we hate each other? No one goes on Twitter to be convinced, everyone just wants to read sermons. That’s why it seems that half of the people on social networks agree with each other on everything – and despise everything that the other half does and thinks. As a result, you meet a person you like – and suddenly you catch yourself being afraid to ask him about politics, about religion, about all this. God forbid he answers something wrong! Nonsense.
— Tell me about playing the school children in their home game!
– No problem! I was walking with the dogs, suddenly some guy came up. A brand new suit, white shirt. Can I, he says, take two minutes of your time? I think – well, clearly, another Mormon. And he suddenly: “We have our last home poker game in an hour, we’re all leaving for college. Can you come in and say hello?” I came home, told Amanda, and conducted a survey on Twitter. Everyone unanimously said that we must definitely go. Well, I picked up some GGPoker merch and went to visit, gave them some clothes, and then played with them a little.
I wondered what kind of teenagers they were! I definitely wasn’t like that at their age. Everyone is sitting in suits, classical music is playing. Nobody drinks. I ask them, where are you going? And they’re like, let’s list the Ivy League universities! Literally, the future elite, and I’m sitting among them, who didn’t even finish school. Cool, overall, I was very pleased. But none of them know how to play, haha!
– I didn’t finish school either! And by the way, about “the ability to play” – how do personal problems and bad mood affect your game? After the scandal with J4o, I couldn’t come to my senses for a long time, and nothing worked at the tables either.
— Well, obviously, when you're worried about something, it's hard to concentrate on poker. But I must admit: by and large, I have been happy all my life. I have wonderful parents, and I have always been lucky in everything. The only dark period in my life that I can remember was the year 2010 or 11, when Amanda and I broke up. I lived like hell for several weeks. But I didn't play poker in those days.
But even today I can well imagine difficult emotional states. A few years ago, Amanda was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And since then I have been studying this disease in order to always be her support, to understand her. And she herself helps me a lot, warns me in advance: like, I come home, and she says, “Daniel, I’m not in the best shape.” So I know right from the start that if she is harsh and rude, it’s not about me. That's fine for me. Otherwise, it seems to me that half of the men on the planet walk around the house and are surprised: “Damn, what did I do to make her angry?..” Yes, it may not be about you at all!
— What did this experience teach you?
– Listen to a loved one. Try not to add stress or make your partner feel guilty for his condition. Hug more often, reassure – and if necessary, do not touch. If you want to understand what bipolar is, watch the TV series Modern Love with Anne Hathaway. Shown perfectly – everything is exactly like Amanda’s. All these instant transitions from the manic stage to the depressive stage, from wild bursts of energy to complete apathy.
In general, everyone should study this topic. For example, when a person is in a depressive phase, they cannot get out of bed at all. And too many people make the mistake of starting to encourage them – like get it together, you wimp, get up and go! This is completely unnecessary and definitely won’t work.
– Well, let's wrap it up! A couple of random questions at the end. What does your day look like?
– My day is the most boring in the world! I'm currently taking a break between episodes, so I'm just enjoying chilling. I walk with the dogs. I drink a lot of water. I'm stupid on the Internet. I go to the gym. In the evenings I watch TV series with Amanda. And no poker yet – but I’ll be back at the tables soon.
– Favorite movie?
– Good Will Hunting
— Favorite podcast?
— Bill Maher's Club Random. He and the guests smoke weed, drink, and talk about everything in the world: politics, sex, anything. Watch the episode with Woody Harrelson, it's wildly funny.
– What's the chance to see you in Hustler? If you don’t want cash, let us run a high-roller SnG for you. Drinks on me.
– Chance... Well, above zero, haha! Let's meet and talk sometime. I’ll take you to a cool vegan restaurant.
— Vegan? So what should I eat there?
– You won’t regret it, believe me. Do you like pasta?
– My last name is Vertucci, bro. Do you think I like pasta?
– We agree!