Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Negreanu

26
Sep
10

World Series of Poker Europe Main Event – Day 2

The moment the clock struck midnight to signal the close of play, Phil Ivey got up from his seat and made his way out of the media spotlight.

He raced up the stairs of the Empire Casino, stepped out into Leicester Square, and disappeared into the cold London night.

Day 2 of the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event was mixed at best for Ivey, who is looking to add to the bracelet he picked up in a $3,000 H.O.R.S.E event in Las Vegas this summer.

Phil Ivey

The eight-time bracelet winner began the day well, racing into an early chip lead as his stack shot up to the 300,000 mark. He has since slipped back a little, but still sits comfortably in the top 10.

He is joined there by Andrew Pantling and David Peters, who both final-tabled the £2,500 6-max tournament won by Phil Laak, but the man everyone is chasing at the moment is Swedish sensation Viktor Blom.

The man believed by many to be online genius/maniac/degenerate gambler (delete as applicable) Isildur1 has amassed a monster-stack of 443,200 chips, a mere 1,100 ahead of Serbian pro Bojan Gledovic but a massive 70,000 clear of the rest of the stacked field.

Free from the attention of the TV cameras (which were largely focused on Ivey and table-mate Gledovic) and surprisingly free from any patches from online cardrooms, Blom seemed at ease, sharing jokes with the rest of his table.

A couple of big pots probably helped, including a superb read to all-but knock out Heather Sue Mercer, and a set-over-set encounter which saw him get the better of Jason Gray. But unlike last year, when a huge bluff-gone-wrong saw him eliminated from the tournament, Blom has been playing impeccable big-stack poker to increase his lead.

Elsewhere, a number of big names remain in contention for the penultimate World Series bracelet of 2010.

Barry Greenstein

Barry Greenstein, Hoyt Corkins, JP Kelly and Greg Mueller are among the bracelet winners remaining, while 1996 World Champion Huck Seed will be coming back for day 3, as will Daniel Negreanu, still in the hunt for a third successive final table in this event.

They will be joined at the felt by reigning Aussie Millions champ Tyron Krost, triple-crown winner Roland de Wolfe and November Niner John Dolan in what remains an incredibly tough field.

Unfortunately some other stars of the game did not make it to midnight with their chips intact. Dolan’s November table-mate Filippo Candio fell by the wayside, as did reigning champion Barry Shulman and bracelet-holders Mike Matusow, Praz Bansi and Phil Laak.

With a field so strong, it is near-impossible to centre in on one table as the toughest of them all, but table 13 is definitely staking a claim for that particular title:

Table 13
Seat 1: John Eames (152000)
Seat 2: David Baker (207000)
Seat 3: Vincent Chahley (122400)
Seat 4: JP Kelly (84900)
Seat 5: Rudy Blondeau (166700)
Seat 6: Huck Seed (147600)
Seat 7: Barry Greenstein (175300)
Seat 8: Thomas Bichon (257700)
Seat 9: James Bord (195000)

Sports bettor Bord, cheered on by friend and event 4 third-place finisher Andrew Feldman, will have his work cut out if he wants to make his second World Series of Poker final table.

Play is set to kick off again at noon today, and it will be interesting to see who emerges at the top once the money bubble has burst. Will Blom hang onto his lead? Will Ivey still be up there? Will Negreanu keep up his phenomenal main event run? We’ll have to wait and see.

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20
Aug
10

Televised poker: light entertainment or overblown reality show?

This week saw the second week of World Series of Poker Main Event coverage on ESPN.

The broadcaster had altered their coverage for the earlier events, adding a breakdown of position for each hand, and this was met with a mixed reception. Much of the criticism initially concerned the confusion which might arise in describing the blinds as “late position”, perhaps a mistaken attempt to simplify the concept of position for newcomers to the game.

While a small percentage of ESPN’s audience may be watching the World Series in an attempt to improve their game, they are almost certainly in the minority. A larger proportion of the viewership will be comprised either of those who already have a firm grasp of the game, or those who watch it purely for entertainment purposes.

WSOP presenters Norman Chad (l) and Lon McEachern

Those in the former category will be eager to point out the flaws in the approach – notably the fact that position is fluid and changes after the flop (an issue belatedly addressed after being ignored in the Players’ Championship coverage). The latter group, meanwhile, may be confused to the point they stop watching, reluctant to leave their comfort zone of watching the big pots and remarkable stories develop. Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore, the detailed positional analysis was gone by the time the main event shows came around, a simple ‘UTG+1’ in-hand graphic a tiny reminder of what we were missing.

This makes some sense, as it is no secret that footage of the World Series of Poker has in recent times begun to cater to a more mainstream audience. Hand analysis has taken something of a backseat as the programme becomes a platform for Norman Chad’s schtick, book-ended by fairytales and sob-stories which would make Simon Cowell blush. Detailed hand analysis has become the domain of podcasts and instructional videos, only occasionally creeping into even the more serious shows.

Indeed the mainstream appeal of World Series coverage is demonstrated by the fact that the programme goes out at prime-time in America. This is in stark contrast to British shows: in particular, the enduringly-popular Late Night Poker has remained late-night, failing to extend its appeal beyond the poker enthusiasts drawn to the show when it first came out.

Jesse May, the voice of UK poker

Even newer shows seem confined to the graveyard slot of midnight-1am, and broadcasters in this country seem more content with sticking to a moderately successful format than they do gambling on a style with a proven track record abroad. Something of a middle-ground has been established in some cases, with the enigmatic Jesse May recruited in an effort to provide larger-than-life American ‘excitement’ in the form of a raised voice and confused cries of ‘Holy Toledo’, but by-and-large the more subtle, low-key approach has been retained.

It is tough to gauge where we can go next in terms of televised poker, particularly with no noticeable intentions to replicate the grandiosity of the successful American format. Perhaps this goes hand-in-hand with the way poker is received in the UK, where there are few ‘celebrities’ in the game to draw an audience in the same way as Phil Hellmuth or Daniel Negreanu have done across the pond. Or maybe there is a fear that elevating poker beyond a diversion restricted to aspirational Euro-casinos or seedy backrooms may threaten the enviable tax-free status of the game.

Either way, for the time being we can be grateful for the choice we are afforded, allowing us to watch one of many British poker shows one week, and US-produced World Series or WPT broadcasts the next. Just think: it could be far worse.

10
Aug
10

Where do we go from here? – Cake Poker’s vulnerabilities

Online poker has been no stranger to controversy in recent years. Many believe the scandals at Absolute Poker and UltimateBet set the game back a few years, with some casual recreational players – perhaps the most common “donators” in the game – reluctant to trust a system under which seemingly blatant cheating went undetected for such a long period of time. Rather than placing trust in the fact that such cheating was eventually detectable, many may have been more eager to cry foul and explain away their losses – although of course the poker economy will have suffered as much through a failure to attract new players as through existing players dropping off the spectrum.

Perhaps equally significant is the realisation that the support or endorsement of a recognised pro can no longer be taken as a guarantee of safety. You need look no further than former World Series of Poker Main Event champion Russ Hamilton’s involvement with Ultimate Bet to understand that. In an age where television producers are peppering our screens with poker show after poker show, creating celebrities out of the likes of Negreanu, Hellmuth and Matusow (not to mention the appearances of Annie Duke and Jean-Robert Bellande on more mainstream shows The Apprentice and Survivor respectively), one might expect the idea of a name pro drawing punters to a poker site to be little more than a formality. However when some prospective players look, for example, at Antonio Esfandiari endorsing Victory Poker, they may be liable to think “what does he have to gain from this venture?”

It seems as though every time online poker looks to be playing itself back into the public’s good books, it takes another step back towards disrepute. The latest site to fall foul of a scandal is Cake Poker, whose security setup has been “exposed” by PokerTableRatings.com (PTR). The suggestion that “superusers” may be able to profit from seeing opponents’ hole-cards hearkens back to the Absolute Poker scenario, and Cake’s cardroom manager Lee Jones has seemingly been burdened with the task of placating critics.

Jones was – at least until recently – viewed by many as one of online poker’s “good guys.” Formerly occupying senior positions at Pokerstars and Cardrunners, few questioned Jones’ motives for joining Cake. And his supporters have by and large been vindicated in their trust up to this point, with the Bluff columnist taking an active role in answering queries and criticism on the Two Plus Two forums. But suspicions were raised when he was seen to be dodging some of the more difficult questions thrown his way.

Cake Poker cardroom manager Lee Jones

Before any more is uncovered about the situation at Cake Poker, it is only fair to look at Jones’ actions at face value. He certainly appeared to be trying his best to defuse the situation, using all the information at his disposal to respond to the queries of concerned players worried their money might be at risk. His failure to keep up the efficiency of his responses – while not in itself suggesting deceit or anything of the sort – certainly raises alarm bells. In an ideal world, all poker sites should be run with a degree of efficiency which ensures there are no “difficult” questions to answer. At the very least it should be easy for sites to deal with those questions which seem difficult at face value, and provide an explanation whenever pressed to do so. Given what has come before in the world of online poker, one man’s silence can often speak louder than even the most dubious excuse, particularly when preceded by such vocal attempts to provide a rational and thought-out explanation.

It could be the case that Lee Jones is a victim of his own efficiency and cooperation, suffering merely as a consequence of being so helpful and trustworthy in the past. We need to understand that this situation is different from minor faults and quibbles uncovered up to this point, and it is not unreasonable to expect those at Cake to take longer to provide answers in the light of their greatest challenge to date. The issue which perhaps should be at the forefront of our inquiring minds is the question of why Cake refused to cease operating once the flaws had been uncovered by PTR. In the long run, such an admission of concern would exonerate Cake’s management of any suggestions of negligence in allowing potential superusers to continue profiting from flaws which are now in the public domain. The longer behaviour like this continues, the more sceptics will look to put two and two together and make five. It is surely only a matter of time before unfounded cries of “inside job” begin to surface and Cake begins to be discussed in the same light as Absolute Poker or UltimateBet.

***

Cake have taken steps to protect their reputation in the last few days, with a comprehensive statement issued by Lee Jones going some way to clarifying the situation and revealing the reasons for some of the decisions taken. It remains to be seen whether this course of action proves to be well-received by those who initally questioned Jones’ prolonged silence. It is not unreasonable to think the level to which such a response is appreciated will correlate to the future security of Cake. That is to say, if no further problems surface, this explanation may be accepted, but Cake run the risk of further criticism if future problems lead critics to view such an explanation as merely compounding existing issues and sweeping concerns under the carpet.

Sites in Cake’s position should always be prepared to let their reputation take a hit from which they are able to recover, rather than sullying their good name to the point that their errors or misdemeanours spread through the rest of the game. Sometimes you must take a step back to continue moving forward.

20
Jul
10

World Series of Twitter?

A few eyebrows were raised when ESPN chose not to provide a live stream of this year’s World Series of Poker main event. After all, they had done so for some of the earlier events, and it goes without saying that the demand for the main event would have been far greater.

But maybe they knew something the fans didn’t. This year news of every bet, every knockout and every chip-count was available quicker than ever, and I’m not just talking about the oft-inaccurate Pokernews updates.

No, I’m talking about Twitter, which has grown in scope over the last twelve-to-eighteen months to the extent that if there is a major event in sport, politics, entertainment or pretty much anything else, there will be a way of following it on the social networking site.

Twitter was integral to media coverage of the 2009 Iranian elections

In the same way the recent general election in the UK was dubbed “The Twitter Election”, it is reasonable to describe this year’s World Series as the event which finally brought top-level poker in line with the twitterverse.

There were a handful of updates last year from the official World Series of Poker Twitter account, and its involvement in proceedings had grown incrementally by the time the World Series of Poker Europe came about, but the idea of bringing the competitors’ own accounts to the fore only really took off this year.

Pokernews has arguably had a significant role in this, tracking the tweets of various top pros regardless of whether a major tournament is taking place. Of course, not everyone will be interested to hear about Evelyn Ng’s love of Glenfiddich or Daniel Negreanu’s opinions on The Real World, but even in circumstances like this there are some fans who are happy to find a personal connection with people whose careers they have followed on television for years.

But the role of Twitter is not limited to Pokernews, especially during the final stages of the World Series. Every morning, anyone following @WSOP could get a rundown of the Twitter accounts of those players remaining in the tournament. This has been beneficial in two ways.

Firstly, it has brought a number of poker’s lesser lights to the public’s attention. Only a handful of big-name professionals (i.e. those who fans have regularly seen on television) made it to the final three tables: Michael Mizrachi, Hasan Habib and Phil Hellmuth’s former nemesis Adam Levy to name but three.

Yet what of the lesser-known players with a role to play? Players like internet pros Matt Affleck, Joe Cheong and Jason Senti, who are relative unknowns unless you happen to play regularly at their stakes online.

Thanks to this easy access to their feeds, poker fans worldwide could choose a player to root for without simply picking a name out of a hat. They could sweat every hand and feel every bad beat, feeling a genuine sense of sympathy for someone they wouldn’t recognise one week or even one day ago. And for the more fickle among us, the nature of Twitter allows you to follow someone for the duration of the event and then – when they are knocked out – unfollow them and find a different horse to back within seconds.

Matt "mcmatto" Affleck was tweeting regularly throughout the main event

The second way in which Twitter played a huge part concerns the speed of updates. Instead of constantly refreshing Pokernews or WSOP.com, going several minutes with no news and then being greeted with five or six updates simultaneously, you can ensure every available update comes your way as soon as is humanly possible.

With a number of players making use of phones or iPads at the table, some were tweeting the hands almost instantly. One player to make use of this tactics was Jean-Robert Bellande, with some speculating that his desire to update fans on his progress minute-by-minute affected his concentration as the sixth day drew to a close.

And indeed the impact of Twitter does not end there. In the months leading up to the final table, we will come to find out a little more about the November Nine. Profiles, articles and human interest features will flood the internet, and now – thanks to Twitter – it will be easier for us to find the articles we want to read.

As well as continuing to follow @WSOP for retweets from poker journalists, the hashtag #WSOP will lead tweeters to more information on the November Nine than they could possibly need, all available at their fingertips. In fact, were it not for Twitter I may have never discovered this brilliant article from Howard Swains.

With all this information available to poker fans, there is no excuse not to follow developments in the World Series. I wait with baited breath to find out how all this has progressed by the time we reach November, let alone the 2011 series.

07
Jun
10

This is beyond fairytale, it’s inconceivable

It seems like just yesterday that Joe Cada’s pocket nines held up against Darvin Moon’s queen-jack in the final hand of the 2009 World Series of Poker main event, but now the greatest tournament in the world is upon us again.

Cada, now 22, has been fairly active in the opening events, and there have been a number of other good stories already.

Michael Mizrachi and brother Robert both made the final table of the $50,000 Players’ Championship, with ‘The Grinder’ taking home the precious bracelet and then almost repeating the feat in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championships.

Michael Mizrachi has already won over $1.6million in this year's World Series of Poker

Englishman Praz Bansi followed up his third place finish at the WSOPE main event by securing his second bracelet in a $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘Em event.

Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen, second in all-time World Series cashes, won his first bracelet for seven years.

And Phil Hellmuth fell just short of a record 12th World Series title when he finished 15th in event #8, a tournament won by Canadian student Pascal LeFrancois.

But the main talking point in the series so far came in the early hours of this morning, when Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan finished second to New Zealander Simon Watt after an epic heads-up battle.

Victory for Dwan would have reportedly changed the face of poker worldwide, and not just because of the $614,248 he would have scooped for first place.

The 23-year-old, a regular in the highest-stakes cash games, made a number of bracelet bets before the series began, with a variety of top players – including Phil Ivey and David Benyamine – set to make Dwan up to $10million richer if he wins a bracelet, if reports are to be believed.

This raised, and indeed continues to raise, a number of questions.

Tom Dwan still has 40 events in this World Series to win a bracelet

First, when play got heads-up in event #11, many observers speculated whether Dwan would be willing to go all-in on a coin-flip, given that he would in theory not be flipping for a $300,000 prize difference, but rather for several million.

Secondly, it hopefully puts an end to suggestions that Dwan is a flash-in-the-pan success. His performances on High Stakes Poker and other televised cash games had already seen many doubters warm to the New Jersey resident, and his third World Series final table (all in different forms of the game, it is worth adding) hopefully demonstrate he has many strings to his bow.

And finally, Dwan’s prop-bets would seem to remove any doubt over whether some cash-game high-rollers don’t take the World Series that seriously. It has been suggested that, as the first prize money only equates to a handful of buy-ins in Bobby’s Room, the likes of Dwan, Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius would rather forego the slog of tournaments and head to the cash games ‘where the real action is.’

If Phil Ivey’s run in last year’s main event, as well as Daniel Negreanu’s second-place finish in the WSOPE Main Event began to close the door on that myth, Dwan’s performance has slammed it firmly shut. Side-bets or no side-bets, the prestige of winning a World Series bracelet has no cash value. The action on the side may spice things up a little, but only to the point where there is absolutely no excuse not to gun for first place wherever possible.

Now only one question remains: with 40 events remaining in this year’s series, will Tom Dwan be able to capture that elusive first bracelet and pocket a little extra on the side?

24
Nov
09

Death of a true great

In lieu of a traditional blog post this week, I thought I would pay my respects to Annie Negreanu, the mother of top poker pro Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu.

Annie passed away in her sleep in the early hours of Monday morning, after a long illness

Annie Negreanu celebrating with her son after his World Poker Tour victory

Daniel and his mother were very close, and no one would begrudge him some time away from poker as he comes to terms with his loss.

Annie, always a bubbly and friendly character suffered a heart attack earlier this year and, in her son’s words, ‘Has been through a lot.’

She was a devoted mother, caring for her son and cooking him and his poker-playing friends delicious food.

And, far from taking her for granted, Daniel has used his relationship with his ‘mama Negreanu’ as an example which he sets out for others to follow.

So all that remains to be said is RIP Annie

08
Oct
09

Daniel Negreanu is no fool

The world’s top poker players will rarely shy away from a challenge.

So it comes as no surprise that Daniel Negreanu, top of the all-time poker money list, has challenged Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina to a penalty shoot-out.

Negreanu, who supposedly met Reina in London during last month’s World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE), will take five penalties against the Spanish international. If he scores just one, Reina will pay him £12,000.

The money is mere pocket-change for Negreanu, who recently scooped just under £500,000 for his performance at the WSOPE, but the Canadian is not a foolish man.

Daniel Negreanu on the TV show 'High Stakes Poker'

Daniel Negreanu on the TV show 'High Stakes Poker'

He is well aware that he stands to benefit even if he loses the bet. The £12,000 sum may well be used to buy Reina into next year’s WSOPE at the glamorous Empire Casino, bringing poker to an entirely new audience.

The Moneymaker Effect

The most recent ‘poker boom’ came when Chris Moneymaker, an accountant from Tennessee, became world champion in 2003.

Moneymaker’s win showed that anyone could play against – and beat – the best in the world, and encouraged plenty of ‘average joes’ like him to deposit money on online poker sites.

Many lost their money, but to this day they keep coming back to chase the dream that Moneymaker had made seem viable.

But why stop at the general public when celebrities have far more money and are often willing to spend it more lavishly.

Poker’s new hall of fame

Bear in mind that one of the biggest ‘donators’ in poker’s largest cash games is Guy Laliberté, the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil who has recently spent around £20 million to go into space.

Many Americans have already relished the opportunity to take on their heroes from the world of sport and film, with LA Lakers player Jordan Farmar increasing the profile of poker within basketball circles.

And what fan would pass up the opportunity to sit across from one of their heroes like Reina, Teddy Sheringham, or one of the many other footballers to have been bitten by the poker bug.

Basketball player Jordan Farmar at this years World Series of Poker in Las Vegas

Basketball player Jordan Farmar at this year's World Series of Poker in Las Vegas

Add into the mix the relatively untapped market of the players themselves, who have the enviable combination of disposable income and a competitive nature, and it is clear to see that Negreanu’s decision smacks of marketing nous above all else.

So, what odds on Daniel firing the penalties wide and instigating another poker boom?




Hi I’m Tom. I’m a freelance journalist, and I recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at Cardiff University. In my spare time I like to play, watch and talk about poker. I hope you enjoy reading my blog.

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