Daniel Negreanu talks about his history as an outspoken commentator on the poker world, his thoughts about US regulation of online gaming, and the Full Tilt Poker vs PokerStars heads up matchups with Rob “Hippy” King for FlopTurnRiver.com
Tags: EPT 9 London, Daniel Negreanu
Added by: Hippy80
Poker Room: PokerStars
Discuss this video in our Poker Forum: Daniel Negreanu Interview at EPT 9 London Forum Thread
Rob King: Hi, guys. I’m here at the PokerStars EPT in London. Earlier on I caught up with Daniel Negreanu.
Rob King: We’re here with Daniel. How are you, Daniel?
Daniel Negreanu: I’m doing great!
Rob King: Enjoying the battle so far? I see that you guys are 2-0 up.
Daniel Negreanu: Well, let me ask you a question: if you were 2-0 up, how would you feel? Yeah, I’m excited about it, for sure, I want to sweep’em.
Rob King: Now just before, you’ve had your match with Gus, but we’ll come back to that in a little bit. I’ve got a few other questions that I want to get to before. People really see you as an ambassador for the whole sport of Poker, if we can call it that, and I think we probably should, at this point.
When you’ve been doing this, is there anything that you think you might have gotten wrong? That you think that you may have come out with and said, that may not be quite right? Because with your gravitas, the weight that your words have, do you think you’ve ever possibly made a mistake in that regard?
Daniel Negreanu: Well to be honest with you, my record is pretty darn good. There’s one interview I did at one point, where I didn’t specify exactly what I meant. There was a point where I was talking about people at Full Tilt, that wouldn’t get their money back. I should have been more specific and said that not from Tapie. I was very confident that that deal was not going to happen, based on the sources that I was speaking to, and if it had … I mean he was just the wrong guy.
This guy was convicted of fixing soccer games. The whole concept of it was like, “We’re talking to who exactly?” I would have worded it more carefully and said, “You’re not getting your money from this deal,” but who knew that the savior was going to come to the rescue in PokerStars?
Rob King: Yeah, that was amazing. I have to be honest, I batted my eyelids about four-five times when I read the news, and went, “Nah, that can’t be right.” Thankfully, for a lot of people, it is right.
Daniel Negreanu: Well yeah. I truly believe that it was the only way. Despite what Howard Lederer believes, that the Tapie deal would have happened, or another deal, I don’t see anybody else that had the know-how to revive the company like PokerStars.
Rob King: You’re quite famous for the things that you have said, I mean things like the EPL, the Epic Poker League Ethics Committee. Given your thoughts on that, what do you think about .. What would GPI have done about the part with this alleged cheating scandal?
Daniel Negreanu: Well you know what? [inaudible 00:02:07] won, and actually I really like [inaudible 00:02:10]. He actually emailed me and asked my opinion on whether or not I should do it, and I thought it was actually good. This is the ranking system, that they have the right to rank in such a way, that if they have concrete evidence … my [inaudible 00:02:20] was simply this: If this is clear and obvious and provable, not based on circumstantial evidence, but by some clear evidence, then yes, I totally agree with it. If it’s based on hearsay or what people think may be happening, that’s not fair, but in this case it seems pretty clear that the people that were disbanded from the GPI were guilty as charged.
Rob King: Did you see the video?
Daniel Negreanu: I haven’t, but I’ve heard enough about it that it’s pretty clear.
Rob King: Yeah, from what I’ve seen, it seems pretty clear. I mean, taking a bit of a different pass, with some of the changes in the US law at the moment, with Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, all fining online gaming legislation quite recently, as someone who’s lived in Nevada for a large portion of your time, where do you see the industry going in the next five years?
Daniel Negreanu: I definitely think regulation country-wide is inevitable, the question is how long? What it looks like is happening in the US is similar to what’s happening in Europe, in that state by state, country by country are regulating on their own. What I think they’ll realize after a couple of years, it will be messy for a bit, is that that’s not how poker sites work. You need critical mass, so you’ll see the states coming on board, maybe start with three or four, and they’re going to become more, because they’re going to notice that it’s not really sustainable unless you actually use critical mass from other states or other countries.
Rob King: You see it as more of a federal solution than a state-by-state solution. Do you see that for example a federal solution would open up the rest of the world player pools as well, or do you think they’re going to stay internally?
Daniel Negreanu: You would hope so. I mean obviously you’d hope that things progress at such a rate that that happens. If not, like I said, what you may see is, it might not even have to get to the federal level, if you get enough states on board, if you get the key states, like California, New York and the like, the big states, if you have 15 or 20 of the key states, that would be probably good enough for most people. Again, I really think it’s important to keep the games global, for them to expand past that and find ways to work within a global market.
Rob King: Coming off that, I mean the kinds of players in the casino market in the United States, do you think that they’re behind the curve on the online side, both in their ethos and also the technology that they use?
Daniel Negreanu: Certainly you’d have to say that they’re behind in terms of technology, because in the end [inaudible 00:04:38] PokerStars, which I represent [inaudible 00:04:41] but it’s just true, they’re way far ahead, because they have so many years of experience. Obviously, PokerStars is a very world-circuit company, and they’re not going to look at the US and go, “Ah, you guys can have it.”
They’re going to want to be in the market as well, it seems like.
Rob King: Coming off of that, have you heard that the AGA, the American Gaming Association’s recent pact with the New Jersey thing? Have you got any comments you want to make on that?
Daniel Negreanu: It’s one of those things at this point, where there’s going to be a lot of people wanting this, then there’s a lot of people wanting this, and in the end, when the dust clears, it’ll be whatever the politicians decide. I’m not a politician and I don’t have any influence either way, so my opinions are all speculation. I hope to see a level playing field for all, and I think that US customers really appreciate not only playing on PokerStars, but what PokerStars did to save online Poker’s reputation, to some degree.
Rob King: That’s what we’ve been talking about earlier, we’ve got the heads-up battles today, between stars from [inaudible 00:05:38]. Now stars are expanding at two mil up, which obviously makes you feel very good. Your picks have come good against some quite tough opposition. Come back with … how did it all start? How do you think the original tweet by Gus really started? Was it [inaudible 00:05:57] was it?
Daniel Negreanu: Really, it’s a combination of both. Gus and I are friends, so we’ve been talking about doing something like this for a long time. We thought it’d be fun to hash it out on Twitter. He started with his needle, I threw it back and I needled my own, and then it snowballed. Then I started talking to people at PokerStars to see if something good could happen along these lines.
Something, like I said, that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. We thought it’d be fun and good for Poker to do it here live at EPT London, it’s the perfect place.
Rob King: It has been fun to watch those show up. Once you picked ElkY and Ike, I mean they were obviously a large numbers of PokerStars [inaudible 00:06:34]. What do you think gave those two the edge?
Daniel Negreanu: I’ll tell you how it was done. Originally I went to Twitter and sort of asked people who they thought I should pick. I narrowed it down to five players. ElkY, Ike, Vanessa Selbst, Jason Mercier and Eugene Katchalov.
Then what I did, and this is a great experience of team bonding, I had the five of them, they couldn’t pick themselves, I wanted them to pick two players and rank them one and two. There was a point system, one player ranked with two points, then one point. I got the most votes. Everybody voted for me, either first or second, and then closely in second place was ElkY.
Obviously it looks like a great pick now that ElkY’s of course beaten Viktor Blom, but I couldn’t have gone wrong. I really had a great table of people, that could all be competitive at this level.
Rob King: I’m a little bit surprised that Jake Cody wasn’t in the mix.
Daniel Negreanu: He was on the cut.
Rob King: He’s a World Series champion.
Daniel Negreanu: Yeah, Jake Cody was so new to the team, we’re thinking about hierarchies, seniority, we’ve got a couple of votes in Twitter, but really there were five people who got repeated over and over, and I wanted to make sure they got a chance to all play.
Rob King: Coming out of Poker a little bit, you announced through your video blog. What was the idea behind that? Beyond the mad review that you got from the poker world?
Daniel Negreanu: Well the first thing, actually I got an iPhone, I switched, and was like, “Oh my God, it’s so easy to just take a little video, press Send!” Then I started to use iMovie and thought it was really fun, and at the same time I have a lot to say, I’m a very opinionated guy and I thought it would be a great venue to connect with the Pokerati, and create kind of like a newsy-type show.
If you and me are doing an interview now, you’re editing this, I don’t know how it’s going to end up. I did it all by myself so I can make it look however I want to. I just really like the creative outlet. I tried a bunch of things, some things work, some things … like I tried a green screen, never again! That was too much. Oh, what a hassle that was.
Now, at this point, the videos I’m going to shoot are basically just about the content and less about the pomp and circumstance.
Rob King: You’ve recently been doing some charity work through your notoriety, let’s call it, your fame. Have you got an opinion, how did that play out? Did you make your target? I don’t know exactly who it was.
Daniel Negreanu: It was actually the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, which is one of the most reputable organizations in the United States. They never turn a child away, regardless of how gloomy the outcome looks. Our goal was to raise $100,000 as a team. The Poker community itself raised about $177,000 and as a team, the team that I was raising money with, we raised $280,000 for the kids at St. Jude.
That’s going to make a very very big difference in those kids’ lives.
Rob King: I agree. It’s absolutely massive. I think what you give back is what you’ve been … [inaudible 00:09:22].
Daniel Negreanu: Honestly, yeah, to some degree. I don’t feel like anyone needs to, but I always felt like I’m the perfect person to do that, or maybe one of the people that was both willing to do it, and could. It’s a role I enjoy, it’s something I feel is necessary, because I love this game and I want to see it flourish and I have a lot of ideas to see that happen. If I didn’t, I’d feel I’d be cheating the Poker community, and I don’t want to do that.
Rob King: I’m getting eyes from people, you need to go and play.
Daniel Negreanu: I get to play!
Rob King: Good luck with that, Daniel, nice to meet you and hope to see you [inaudible 00:09:56].
Daniel Negreanu: All right, sounds good!