Adam Schwartz: Let's start with the sad part. Two weeks ago, the poker world lost its main legend – Doyle Brunson. The only one who can be called a true poker icon. Doyle began his career in the 50s, traveling around Texas, then was there at the start of the World Series and played high stakes all his life. Nobody compares to him. He was the epitome of poker for decades and changed the game forever. Daniel and Terrence, you started in the late 90's and played with many of the legends of the 70's. Even I played with Puggy Pearson. But I think you will agree that all of them were only a shadow of their former greatness and no longer caused any thrill at the table. But time seemed to have no power over Doyle, until the last days he continued to play in the most difficult lineups and showed decent results. Daniel, what do you think of his legacy?
Daniel Negreanu: The first thing I want to say is that absolutely everyone loved Doyle. Even my wife always called him her favorite player. Another feature of Doyle is that he was very smart. Not everyone remembers this, but in the 50s in Texas, education was a rarity among poker players. And Doyle received an excellent education, which also helped him in poker. As far as work on the game, he was also ahead of his time. It is known that he sat for hours and dealt himself cards for several seats in order to manually calculate the probabilities in a notebook. Now, when there are solvers and other advanced software, it seems elementary, but no one else thought of it before. Even in the late 90's when I started, there were players who were sure that AKo was better than AKs because of two flush draws. I am not kidding.
My favorite Doyle quote: “I am a gambler and all players are gamblers. It's just that some people are lucky enough to find a game they can beat." And this is absolutely true. Outside of poker, Doyle was not the most successful businessman. He himself laughingly told how he invested in finding Noah's Ark or raising the Titanic from the bottom of the sea.
I have no doubt who is the greatest player of all time. Recently I was asked – Ivey or Doyle? I don't know who was stronger at the peak of his career. I never played with Doyle in his best years. But I know for sure that no one even comes close to him in terms of poker longevity. He played at the highest level for decades. Generations of players changed, and Doyle continued to win. And he progressed all the time. I played with him last year and immediately noticed several situations in the NL in which he began to play much better than before.
Terrence Chen: Did you see his last tweet about Mike Matusow?
Just cashed in my chips but before I walk out that door one last time, I just wanted to tell you all how much I loved this poker world. I didn’t want to go yet, was actually planning to play some events this summer….
But when I saw the mark up Mike Matusow was charging for the 10k O/8 event… my heart just gave out! 😂. Be kind to one another. I’ll save you all a seat in Dolly’s game in Heaven.
Daniel Negreanu: Actually, he didn't write it.
Terrence Chen: Yes, I suspected that it was impossible to tweet after death. Seriously, do you think Todd sent him?
Daniel Negreanu: Most likely, or they agreed in advance.
Terrence Chen: After the news of the death, the players began to remember Doyle on Twitter. I liked Scott Seaver's post the most:
One thing I'll always remember is the biggest compliment in my mind that he ever paid me, the time when he said that of everyone in my generation he thought only me and Jason Mercier would've been able to make it as a Texas road gambler and survive/thrive. I still think about it.
"You're like the 20th person I've heard tell the same story," responded Haralabos Voulgaris. "Part of being a good Texas Road Gambler is knowing how to handle your marks."
Daniel Negreanu: I would love for fans to get to know the non-poker life of two players, Doyle and Ivey. I have always compared them to brothers who are constantly quarreling and fighting. I am sure that deep down they respected and even loved each other, but from the outside, it seemed that they were ready to tear each other's throats at any moment. And most of all they loved to win money from each other. I have already told the story of how we came to play golf in Shadow Creek. We got together at 10:45 am and before the game, we started discussing who would play with which handicap.
– Eric, I will play with you if you give a 5-stroke head start, – Doyle turned to Lindgren.
– I can offer only 4.5.
Within 5 minutes they found a compromise.
Then Doyle began negotiations with Phil, and their argument lasted 4.5 hours. They could not decide in any way who would yield 0.5 strokes. At 3 PM, we just parted ways without playing a single minute.
Terrence Chen: Doyle played an expensive game in Bobby's Room until his last days. Surely in recent years, the game was no longer profitable for him. Why did he continue, do you think?
Daniel Negreanu: Doyle has always been very sober about his level. About 10 years ago, he told me that he would stop playing the big game as soon as he realized that he no longer had a chance. He saw no problem in going lower. He himself always cited Johnny Moss as an example, who was once considered the undisputed best player in the world, and in his old age became an outright fish and a welcome guest even for $20/$40.
Age also affected Doyle, he often lost concentration, and he could mix up games and his cards. But his instincts always worked 100%. Jason Koon recalled a hand they played in the WSOP Main Event. The board was KQT2X with three hearts. Doyle checked-folded AxJh on the river. Koon, of course, had a flush. Doyle maintained a clear mind until his last days.
He was also always a gentleman, even though he grew up in Texas in the 50s. You know what time it was. Once he was asked to write a column for CardPlayer. Doyle talked about a black guy named Nate they played with in the 70s. Everyone called him "N*** Nate." And Nate himself, too. And Doyle wrote exactly that in the article, which caused discontent among some readers. “But that was his name,” Doyle didn't understand. Doyle had his own views on the world, and certain political preferences, but he never wished harm to anyone.
Adam Schwartz: The World Series has a Chip Reese trophy. Do you think there is a chance that the main tournament will be dedicated to Doyle?
Terrence Chen: It seems to me that this will not fully reflect the contribution of Doyle. I would rather have a trophy named after him, which is awarded to the best player in the series. By the way, are you aware that in the main event in 1972, Doyle and Puggy Pearson specifically lost to Amarillo so that he would get all the glory? They didn't want to draw attention to themselves. So it seems to me that even one more victory in the main would not affect Doyle's career in any way, he already has a lot of significant achievements. And that says a lot when a third Main Event title wouldn't change your legacy that much.
Daniel Negreanu: Of the Doyle memorial tournaments, Dealer's Choice for $10k is the best. But I agree, it's too small for him. Maybe the trophy for winning the players' championship should be called the Doyle and Chip Cup. Because they really were connected all their lives.
Adam Schwartz: Let's move on to the World Series, which starts in a couple of days. Daniel, are you ready for it?
Daniel Negreanu: It's impossible to prepare for seven weeks of non-stop grinding. But I'm looking forward to the game. I plan to release daily vlogs again. I haven't recorded them for a year, so I'll have to remember how to do it. I think as soon as the series starts, everything will go on as usual, as if on autopilot.
Adam Schwartz: You've been doing a $25k draft for over 10 years. It seems that this year it will be a record. Tell me about the changes in the rules.
Daniel Negreanu: Usually at this time I call all the former participants and remind them about the draft. I try to collect at least 12 teams. This year, there is no such need at all. People themselves wrote to me, and not only regulars but also complete strangers from Brazil and Europe. Now I have a list of 22 potential participating teams. Usually, a few teams pull out at the last minute, but I'm still confident that this will be the biggest draft ever. I expect about 20 teams, and this will greatly affect the strategy for choosing players.
This year I decided to make a list of players who cannot be selected. Last year, Ryan Riess drafted Chris Vitch, who announced in advance that he would not play. Yes, we can say that he was not prepared and he is to blame. But I am against this approach, it is contrary to the spirit of the competition. And this happens every year, once someone chose David Chiu, who also didn't show up at all. To avoid such situations, I have compiled a list of players who are known for sure that they will not play. Two more players I blacklisted on my own initiative are Ali Imsirovic and Jake Schindler. I don't want to put draft participants in a moral dilemma. Before the draft, I will once again interview all the participants, in case someone wants to add to the list. No one is obligated, but I will try to make the list as complete as possible.
And the last change – this year the women's tournament, the senior's tournament, and the casino employee's event will be taken into account. This is David Baker's idea. I think this will also affect the selection strategy, especially at the end of the draft. There are way more women on my potential list this time than before. There are some obvious candidates, such as Kristen Foxen. But there are some not so famous ones. I didn't want to reveal all the secrets, but I can't help it. Cherish Andrews (ed. – Thanks to the expertise of a Repairion forum member, Cherish Andrews can also be selected in a free draft from GipsyTeam) just struck me with her aggression when we recently played together in the PokerGO studio. She won a bunch of pots in the first three hours and never showed her hand. Her profit line flew into the sky. Such players know how to build good stacks in big fields, where there is a huge bonus. True, they also lose chips quickly.
Terrence Chen: Usually the most useful players in the draft are those who play all the expensive limit tournaments. But 20 teams are 160 people. That is, you will have to recruit specialists in hold'em. How will this affect at what price will they be taken?
Daniel Negreanu: Depends on the limits they play. In recent years, there have been more expensive hold'em and PLO tournaments, so the price of high-stakes regs, which were previously not taken at all, have increased significantly. And because of the large number of participants, the regulars of cheap tournaments with field bonuses become very valuable. I divided my potential players into 5 categories. In the first hit playing all in a row. In the second – highly specialized high rollers. In the third – PLO regulars. The fourth has good regs, but they play in all casinos, so their schedule at the WSOP can be limited. And in the fifth – my secret list. These are players who are unlikely to be named by others, I hope to pick them up cheaply and hit the jackpot. There is also a list of players for whom there will definitely be a fight, but I do not plan to take them. I will throw them in so that others spend their money. Last year I managed to put together a great team of players worth 20-30 points, and I lost only one side bet. I will stick to the same strategy now, although it will be much more difficult.
The popularity of poker fantasy is growing, which makes me very happy. I think one of the main reasons here is variance, anyone can win. Last year, Maria Ho took first place, with John Hennigan on her team, who did not play a single tournament. The draft makes the World Series much more interesting to follow. If you can't afford to enter for $25k, there is a similar draft of Mark Gregorich for $2,500, and in general, a person from anywhere in the world can participate in the ODB draft. I want to note the author of the 25kfantasy site. He does it on pure enthusiasm, no one pays him, so I always urge the winners to somehow reward him with a tip.
Another interesting point is that the choice in the draft also adds motivation to the players themselves. I am 100% sure that thanks to my draft, the number of participants in the World Series, and therefore the profits of the organizers, have grown. I remember a case when a few years ago one rather strong player – I won't name him – was taken for $3. He was just pissed off at this disrespect. After that, he almost never missed tournaments and became 3rd in points among all participants.
Adam Schwartz: Will there be a broadcast?
Daniel Negreanu: Yes, PokerGO will organize a free one on their youtube page (ed. – the draft will take place on the night of Monday to Tuesday, starting at 2 am GMT).
Adam Schwartz: In the end, I want to hear your predictions for the Main Event. The record for the number of participants (8,773) has been held since 2006, when Jamie Gold won. Many are sure that this time he will finally be beaten. I think this year there will be 9,320 people.
Terrence Chen: I'll take less – 8,100.
Daniel Negreanu: I am also sure that the record will fall – 8,973.