here's a guy who needs no introduction. If you've
watched any poker on TV, followed any of the online
posts, you know the name, Daniel Negreanu. The
2004 Toyota Player of the Year, Daniel has steadily
risen to the top of poker's ranks. Contributing
writer for Cardplayer, a regular on the World
Poker Tour, a contributor in the upcoming Super
Sytem II, and now recently engaged, Daniel somehow
found time to answer some questions from the Lizard.
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PokerLizard: Let's get to the hard hitting questions
right away, what is the correct pronunciation
of your last name? On ESPN its "Neg Ron You"
and on other shows (WPT/Championship Poker at
the Plaza), it's "Neg Ron ooo." (I theorize
you told ESPN "Neg Ron You" as a tease
to Phil Hellmuth whose name transformed from Helmuth
to HelmYouth...but I could be wrong).
never asked me how to pronounce it and honestly
I don't care all that much how it's pronounced.
I say it "Ne GRAH new", but again I
don't really care.
PokerLizard: How did you first get interested
in poker? How long have you been playing serious
Daniel: I used to be a pool player. Through that,
I got into sports betting and then finally poker.
Hanging out with gamblers in my teens, poker was
inevitable. Once I started playing poker, I think
I got the bug immediately. I was playing seriously
within two months of my first game.
PokerLizard: You write very candid articles for
Player Magazine, (the articles can be found
at FullContactPoker.com as well) for instance
talking about failed relationships and letting
partying affect your poker. Do you find these
articles cathartic or are you trying to warn players
of some of the pitfalls to avoid?
Daniel: I think it's a combination. There are
so many things the media doesn't discuss and I'm
not one to hide the truth. People watch poker
on TV and think everyone is a millionaire that
lives in a mansion. In truth, most of the players
I learned lessons from all the mistakes I've
made and I'm not ashamed of any of them. They
helped me become the person I am today, and I
like that person. If others learn something from
the mistakes I've made, well, all the better.
PokerLizard: How does wearing headphones at the
table help your play? What are you currently listening
to? Also, what type of headphones do you wear?
(They look comfortable).
Daniel: I wear BOSE.
This will sound corny, but I honestly listen to
"massage" music; i.e. ocean waves, birds
chirping, etc. It helps me get through the boring
parts of a tournament when I start to feel antsy.
PokerLizard: You often wear Hockey jerseys at
the table, and are obviously a HUGE hockey fan.
Would you trade any of your major tournament victories
for a Maple Leaf
championship? Also, if you could spend one day
with Lord Stanley's Cup, like the players on the
championship team, what would you do?
Daniel: Honestly, I'm a big hockey fan but no,
I'd never trade a tournament win for the Leafs
winning a cup. If I had the cup for a day? I have
no idea what I'd do with it. I think I would marvel
at it for a while, but I'm just not all that big
on material items.
PokerLizard: You wrote a very interesting piece
on the internet concerning the differences between
"Math" guys and "Feel" guys.
Can you elaborate on that concept? Also, in your
opinion, at what level does "Feel" start
becoming a crucial element in poker success?
Daniel: At the highest levels everyone has a
decent understanding of the math. Feel, or psychological
warfare is what it's all about. I honestly don't
think that a pure math guy has much of a chance
in those games because they aren't psychologically
prepared for the game.
PokerLizard: In one of your Card Player articles
you mention playing a cash game at a table with
Seat 1: Doyle Brunson
Seat 2: Lyle Berman
Seat 3: Johnny Chan
Seat 4: Chip Reese
Seat 5: Me
Seat 6: Phil Ivey
Seat 7: Chao Xiang
No, my question isn't, "are you nuts??"
It is, how do players in the highest limit games
actually have long-term success - it seems as
though you would just be transferring chips back
and forth until the rake/time-charge broke everyone?
Daniel: Not all of the "great" players
are equal. If you are the third best player in
a six-handed game, that will usually be a profitable
PokerLizard: When people talk about the biggest
games, to what limits are they generally referring?
Daniel: Generally 1000-2000 and above. I play
in a regular game that is usually 1000-2000 or
1500-3000. I've played as high as 4000-8000 but
that's a little out of my comfort zone.
PokerLizard: What 3 characteristics does it take
to become a "World Class" Player?
3. Fundamental knowledge
PokerLizard: Other than "play, play, play",
what advice would you give someone hoping to become
a great player? Any recommended reading?
Daniel: Super System and the Theory of Poker.
For tournaments I would suggest Tournament Poker
by David Sklansky.
PokerLizard: How much more difficult/different
is it to get a "feel" on a player while
playing online? Have you ever noticed any online
Daniel: You don't really look for tells online
- what you should be focusing on is betting patterns.
Ironically that also holds true in live games.
There is a big misconception in poker that "tell
reading" is what makes the difference between
good and great, but in fact it's hand reading
ability that separates the men from the boys.
PokerLizard: How often do you play online? Does
your strategy differ much from live games?
Daniel: Not too often really. I'm involved in
an exciting new project with a new online site,
so I haven't been playing too much. As for my
strategy, it does change significantly. I bluff
less and 'value bet' more.
PokerLizard: Obligatory PokerLizard Question:
If you were Matt Damon in "Rounders"
how long would it have taken you to kick your
girlfriend to the curb and get with Famke Janssen?
Daniel: Honestly I don't think I would have kicked
her to the curb at all. She seemed like a good
woman and was probably a better fit for him. It
was his dishonesty that lost her. I probably would
have quit playing poker if it would mean the relationship.
A game is not more important than a woman you
PokerLizard: You have the famous quote, "They
were unbluffable," after leaving the main
event of the WSOP this year. Are you going to
play a more straightforward style next year until
the later rounds, or go "Gus Hansen"
Daniel: I'm going to stick to my game plan. That
stretch they aired was an ugly one for me. Had
I caught a few breaks, I think things would have
PokerLizard: You seem to be having a good time
at the tables, which most fans see as a welcome
change to the emotionless play advocated by some
players. Why do
you think this style works so well for you?
Daniel: A leopard can't change his spots. I'm
a 'people person' and I like to have fun. If I
had to be all boring-like and sit there like a
lump on a log, I probably wouldn't enjoy my job
as much as I do. Plus, when people are being natural,
they are easier to read. I try to make people
feel comfortable and have fun. Serious poker is
bad for business and bad for the game in general.
Make the game fun, I say.
PokerLizard: Who do you most like to play against?
Who would make your Hall of Fame table?
Daniel: I most like to play with John Hennigan
because when he is focused, he is the best I've
ever played with. He thinks on another level that
few could understand. Ted Forrest and Phil Ivey
are similar, but I find John to be truly amazing.
Hall of Fame table for me would look like:
PokerLizard: You won the Toyota
Player of the Year award for your play during
the WSOP, beating out many of the game's elite
players. How were you able to maintain
your focus and energy over the entire month? What
did this award mean to you?
Daniel: I skipped the Bellagio before the WSOP
started. That helped me down the stretch for sure.
I stayed away from the late nights at the bar
and woke up early so I was never late for any
tournament. I bought in the night before to avoid
the rush and ate extremely healthy. To me, that
was my World Championship. I think you'll find
that these days, the Main Event winner will be
an unknown, but the Player of the Year award isn't
something you can fluke. Look at the list of players
that were close and it's a group of top players.
PokerLizard: With all the hype surrounding poker
and the influx of celebrity players, do you see
much potential in those "newcomers"
or will the seasoned pros still
dominate over time? Do you coach any celebrities
(you seemed to be on a first name basis with Tobey
Maguire who has had some good recent results)?
Daniel: I am friends with Tobey, but I wouldn't
say that I coach him at all. He's become a really
good, winning player all by himself through hard
work playing long hours at the tables.
I think the young internet players will/have
revolutioned the way poker is played and many
of them will be fantastic. It really is a young
man's game, and if you don't stay fresh and keep
up-to-date with the changes, you WILL get passed
by. I see it all the time.
PokerLizard: How flattering was it to be asked
to write a section in the surely to become new
"Poker Bible", Super System 2 book?
How did you get involved in the project and what
exactly is "Triple Draw"?
Daniel: I was honored that Doyle would ask me.
Being a part of a group of writers with the accolades
they have is just awesome. I mean, Doyle, Chip,
Chan, Jennifer Harman, Lyle Berman, Bobby Baldwin,
etc... those are living legends. I'm not so sure
I belong in a group like that, but I wasn't about
to pass up on that honor. 'Triple draw' is a five
card draw game with three draws. It's played lowball,
either 2-3-4-5-7 as the best hand, or A-2-3-4-5.
The game is ALWAYS in the mix in the high-limit
games and is a fast action game. It's important
to learn the game if you want to succeed in high
PokerLizard: Thanks for your time Daniel, and
best of luck.
To play against Daniel or check out his blog
go to FullContactPoker.com
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