Ten Questions With Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu
Negreanu on bluffing, being pot committed and the best celeb he's ever played with.
In 2004, Daniel Negreanu made it to five final tables on the World Series of Poker tour (winning one and earning the World Series of Poker Player of the Year award) and, more importantly, made $4,465,907 while doing it.
A decade later, Negreanu was a first-ballot inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame, becoming just the 47th players to make it into the PHOF.
Suffice to say, he knows his way around a card table.
That’s why, when Poker Central was recruiting card sharks for its new streaming series Hand Histories, which features well-known poker players narrating some of their most iconic wins and worst beats, Negreanu was one of the first people they called.
“Hand Histories is something that seems long overdue,” Negreanu told RealClearLife. “The response to this show from the poker community has been fantastic, and when I was approached to add one of my more memorable hands, it was really a no-brainer.”
That wasn’t the only thing Negreanu told RCL, as he recently took the time to answer 10 questions about his best bluff, what he can’t stand at the table (bad hygiene) and what life has taught him about poker.
Let’s go all-in.
RealClearLife: What is the best hand you have ever folded?:
Daniel Negreanu: I have folded a pair of KK (king, king) before the flop twice in my life. One time I was right, and my opponent had AA (ace, ace), but the other time my opponent really overplayed QQ (queen, queen) and got me to fold the best hand!
RCL: When you play, at what point in a hand, if any, do you feel pot committed?
DN: Really depends on the hand or situation, but I’d say when you have in over 33% of your stack into a pot, it’s hard not to continue with the rest of it.
RCL: What is the best bluff you have ever made and won?
DN: In 2003 on a show called Showdown at the Sands I was heads up with Freddie Deeb. By the river I was pretty convinced that he was betting an AK on a King high board. I raised him anyway thinking he would give me credit for a flush and it worked, he folded the hand and I went on to win the tournament.
RCL: Are there any tricks you use to psych out an opponent?
DN: Sure, mostly table talk. I’m comfortable being chatty during hands but not everyone is.
RCL: What’s one piece of advice you have for rookie players?
DN: Have fun! Play small stakes to start, then if you feel like your skills are improving you can try out some higher stakes. Think of it like a video game, don’t jump to level 4 if you haven’t completed level 1.
RCL: What’s one piece of advice you have for experienced players?
DN: Balance. In terms of their social and personal life. Poker will always be there, but it’s super important in this profession to have an outlet away from the table. It can be a stressful profession.
RCL: Who is the best celebrity you have ever played against and why?
DN: I’d go with Toby Maguire. He is a real student of the game and from the outset, you could just tell he was going to be good.
RCL: Who is the worst celebrity you have ever played against and why?
DN: Years ago I did a show called “Hollywood Home Game” for WPT (World Poker Tour) and I was there to give advice. I spent a big part of the lesson time saying, “Don’t just call, raise or fold.” All the celebs seemed to understand it and said “OK.” Then the show starts, and the first hand the action goes CALL CALL CALL, all six players doing exactly the one thing I told them not to do!”
RCL: Any pros you enjoy or really don’t enjoy playing against?
DN: I find it fun to play with Phil Hellmuth because I enjoy seeing him complain! As for people I don’t enjoy playing with, that would be either excessively slow players or people with bad hygiene.
RCL: What has life taught you about poker?
DN: I think poker has taught me about life, and vice versa. There are obvious parallels. In poker, you don’t really know how good someone is until they have dealt with adversity and a losing streak. Much like in life, you know someone’s true character based on how they deal with conflict. What kind of person are they when things aren’t going well in their personal life.