Adam Schwartz: Daniel, you just got back from a trip. Can you tell us about it?
Terrence Chen: It looks like you weren't allowed into the bar there because you're too old?
Daniel Negreanu: Yes, I was in Korea on business and met up with an old friend I hadn't seen in 13 years since Toronto. One evening we decided to go to the bar, we liked one institution. We approached the entrance and they asked me for my documents. I was a little surprised, but I showed them, and they said that I was too old. Only those born after 1985 are allowed in, and there were no such people in our company, haha. In Korea, there are places where foreigners are not allowed, in some places there is a kind of age restriction, and sometimes your appearance is assessed. The cultural differences are impressive, but in general I really liked it there.
First time for everything.— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) October 11, 2022
Asked for ID to get into a bar in Korea.
Figured that shouldn’t be an issue as I’m certainly old enough.
Except no… TOO OLD TO ENTER!@Ali_Nejad @golferjosh pic.twitter.com/TSOCh60TfS
Adam Schwartz: Before Korea, you managed to play a small tournament called the Super High Roller Bowl. Do you remember anything about it?
Daniel Negreanu: Yes, something. Just during the tournament, there was this whole scandal at the Hustler casino, and you couldn't use the phone at the TV table. Then I immediately flew to Korea, where the time zone is different. Because of this, I did not participate in the battles on Twitter for several days, and, of course, I immediately signed up to the cheating team.
Actually I was 100% focused on SHRB. It's no exaggeration to say that this was my best tournament performance in my entire career. I became a chip leader in the first levels, and until the very end I was never all in, and did not risk my entire stack. During the tournament I tried some new tricks – a lot of limping, varying the sizing of open-raises and continuation bets. Even beginners should understand that no one is able to 100% correctly apply solver solutions in practice, there will always be some deviations. This is especially evident when a person analyzes certain specific sizings all his life. As soon as you use unusual bet sizes against such a player, which he is not used to, this will immediately cause difficulties. And limping generally unsettles many opponents, because almost no one analyzes limping ranges, they are too complex. And I have been playing limps for 30 years and I understand why I do it.
I managed to experiment a bit with the new strategy back at Poker Masters, it worked out well, but I lost all all-ins there. And Super High Roller Bowl has such a deep structure that I didn't have to flip at all.
Terrence Chen: So you haven't studied limps in software either, just relying only on your own experience?
Daniel Negreanu: Yes, using an internal randomizer that I have been honing for 30 years. But if the opponents have never studied limping at all, it is clear that I will have an advantage. And it was noticeable, opponents made big mistakes against me, especially when I was in position.
Adam Schwartz: Do other players not know how to limp at all?
Daniel Negreanu: Two people understand this game very well. Cary Katz has been playing this way for a long time, although other elements in his strategy are far from ideal. Chance Kornuth also understands well. Limping is very profitable, for example, in 3-max. Due to the fact that the big blind posts antes, it is beneficial for us to play a lot of hands from the button. We want to see a lot of flops with all sorts of T8o type holdings. If we raise, we will often just be 3-bet out of the pot. After limping, we will also fold sometimes, but we will still see the flop much more often.
A great example was on the bubble. I sat with a huge stack and wasn't at risk pf being busted. Limped 50,000 with on the button, Justin Bonomo in the SB raised 4x with . Naturally, I called. The flop is open . Justin bet a quarter of the pot, as the solver advises in this situation, leaving behind 700,000, and I raised to 200,000 and took the pot. In such a situation, he can only stay in the hand with a very limited set of hands. What should he do with red tens, , or other hands without spades? I force him to fold. Naturally, facing a shove, I would happily throw it away. If I made a standard preflop raise in this hand, I would have to give up to his 3-bet.
Adam Schwartz: Terrence and I were watching the broadcast and wanted to discuss the final stages of the tournament. Already in the money, when you were three handed with Nick Petrangelo and Andrew Lichtenberger, you had 5m chips and they each had 1m. According to ICM, this is a terrible situation for your opponents, but you still continued to limp and often gave up facing their shoves when you could have been all-in first, forcing them to fold strong hands.
Terrence Chen: Yes, you could open very wide. It is clear that there is always a risk of doubling opponents, and I have not studied such situations at all. What does the solver say? The depth was 20 blinds, which seems to be not that deep, and it was possible to play open shoves.
Daniel Negreanu: To be honest, I have never studied ICM for situations like this either and have no idea what the solver says. I don't really care about it, I played exclusively to win. I was guided by the fact that I am completely satisfied with this ratio of stacks and wanted to keep it as long as possible. Thought they would shove my limps and 2.5x raises fairly narrowly. That is, their range will not be much different from what they would call my all-ins with. In addition, both Andrew and Nick have a much better understanding of ICM. This is not at all the same as playing with amateurs, against whom I would simply print money with my pushes. But here I would not have been allowed to run them over, and the last thing I wanted was to double one of them.
Terrence Chen: Let's say you would open with , and Nick pushes with …
Daniel Negreanu: I highly doubt he will repush so light. Assuming that he is all-in, it is clear that I will fold A2o and lose 2.5 blinds. Yes, he would have folded to my push. But in any case, I keep control of the tournament, and that was the most important thing.
Adam Schwartz: At the beginning of the podcast, you said that you were more focused than ever in this tournament. You always play high stakes tournaments, did you really tune in to this one in a special way?
Daniel Negreanu: At the table, I behaved completely calmly, and the audience would get the impression that I didn't care at all. I was talking all the time and seemed not to follow the game. At the same time, I was always in my comfort zone, and talking, on the contrary, could unsettle some opponents.
One thing I can say for sure – I came to this tournament 100% confident in my abilities. From the previous $50k tournament at the Poker Masters, I busted with aces against jacks on the bubble. But it only gave me confidence because I made sure that my limping strategy was working great. I came to SHRB with the mindset that it would be almost impossible for my opponents to take my stack away from me. I'm not Addamo, who is ready to play for a stack in any hand. My style is completely different.
I played defensive poker throughout the entire tournament, but I was well aware of how it affected my ranges on every street. All my actions were carefully thought out. The only hand I was in danger was when I was dealt jacks against Foxen's aces, but in that I managed to escape on the river. I rewatched the broadcast later and was shocked at how many correct folds I made in situations where the solver recommends calling.
Terrence Chen: How long can you keep that attitude? Do you think it will also be possible to play the next, for example, five tournaments with high quality?
Daniel Negreanu: I'm sure yes. WPT Five Diamond started in Bellagio the other day – one of my favorite tournaments. I myself am interested in how my strategy will work against weaker players. As I said, the main goal of my limping is to see more flops. I limp-call with a very wide range and this puts my opponents in a difficult position, especially when they raise from the blinds and are out of position. In this case, I control the flow of the hand and decide what happens on each street.
Adam Schwartz: The tournament collected only 24 entries. Don't you think this is a problem?
Daniel Negreanu: There is only one problem here – the tournament is held in Vegas, which is why it is not played at all by players from Asia. Everyone remembers their arrest at the Caesars casino.
Brett Forrest of ESPN wrote a huge article about the arrest and release of Paul Phua, known in the poker world as MalACEsia. We followed this story, but even if you read our other materials on the topic, this article deserves special attention.
Canadian players don't come because of taxes. And this is at least 15-20 players. In general, everything was in order with the fields at Poker Masters. But after Korea, I played several high roller tournaments in Bellagio, and the situation in them was simply catastrophic. There were 5 people in one tournament! And on average, 18 players participated, and this is with reentry. The Bellagio just can't compete. One of the main reasons is it's not the best timing, as there are tournaments in Wynn, in Europe, WSOP online and so on at the same time. The second reason is the venue. Nobody wants to play at the Bellagio these days. Although not so long ago it was the most fashionable casino in Vegas.
Terrence Chen: I started my career at the Bellagio on the $8/$16 limit hold'em tables and dreamed of one day being in the high stakes room.
Daniel Negreanu: Yes, everyone used to dream about it. And now we played the last high roller tournament in some cramped room next to a smoky slot machine hall. The tables themselves were also too small, as if they were designed for 6-max. Bobby's Room was free at that moment, there are several tables, I suggested moving our tournament there, but they did not listen to me.
By the way, in connection with this, I have compiled a list of the best places to play poker in Las Vegas. The unequivocal first place belongs to the PokerGo studio. Obviously that it is not available to everyone, only high stakes tournaments and cash games are held there. Second place goes to the Wynn, in recent years they have been doing great – an excellent schedule, spacious halls, everything is at the highest level. Next I placed Paris, where the World Series was held, followed by the poker room at Aria and the Venetian casino. I have not played at the new Resorts World casino yet, but I heard only positive reviews. And in last place by a huge margin is the Bellagio.
Adam Schwartz: Would you even put the Orleans higher? (ed. – one of the most modest and cheapest casinos in Vegas).
Daniel Negreanu: I have not been there for a thousand years, but I think even they are not so bad.
Adam Schwartz: Can you remember the five worst places you've played poker?
Daniel Negreanu: I really remember one place in London where I played at the very beginning of my career. It was a room with a one and a half meter ceilings, where absolutely all the players smoked. I lasted an hour and did everything to get out. I realized that I couldn't take it anymore.
Adam Schwartz: For winning the Super High Roller Bowl, you received $3.3 million and turned a disastrous year into positive.
You recently posted your results for the past 9 years:
2022: + $1.67m
Two negative years in a row. Do you remember what was the reason?
Daniel Negreanu: It's simple – I played all the high stakes tournaments in a row and didn't get anywhere. In 2017 I was close to zero, lost a couple of buy-ins. But 2016 really was a failure, but this is exactly the year when the gap between me and the strongest players was at the maximum. After that, I decided to take theory seriously. This year, before winning the SHRB, I didn’t feel any difference in class. I played well, I just could not win a single all-in. I have never had such an unsuccessful streak in my entire career.
Adam Schwartz : Finally wanted to discuss Jeremy Ausmus' recent tweet in which he accused of ghosting from his heads-up opponent in a bracelet tournament.
– A little short of winning – finished second in the $7,777 WSOP Online event. Congratulations to Jared Strauss, who I have never heard of. He was by far the strongest in this final. Looking forward to when we cross paths in the live high rollers, which he definitely can handle despite the fact that he plays live $60 tournaments.
Daniel Negreanu: The problem of ghosting is not new. There is a joke among high rollers that Phil Hellmuth is no longer the record holder for bracelets, Ali Imsirovic has at least 30 of them. Everyone knows very well that Mark Herm, Ali, Jake Schindler and others have been multi-accounting and ghosting for many years. And the WSOP.com security team is not competent enough to influence this. But this case is not typical. This guy Jared really has only live cashes, mostly in cheap tournaments, but he still has one cash in a $5k tournament. It was the 600-man WPT Main Event. We all understand that a $7k tournament online is a different story. Jeremy is one of the best players in the world, he understands ICM and GTO very well. And if, according to him, this guy played a lot stronger, then the situation looks suspicious. I am glad that such topics are being raised in the community more and more often.
Terrence Chen: In the comments on Jeremy's tweet, a lot of people have also commented that the ghosting problem is huge in the online WSOP tournaments that take place in the US. But there was another side to the comments: “Here is another reg that was upset due to the fact that he lost to an amateur.” But we all know Jeremy very well, he certainly cannot be called a person who does not know how to lose.
Daniel Negreanu: You are absolutely right, he is one of the most deserving people in poker. There is another problem here – WSOP.com has a very limited pool of players, and everyone knows each other very well. And when some new account appears that starts playing close to the GTO, naturally, questions will arise.