Kid Poker Gettin’ Older
Daniel Negreanu on why he backed out of the 2013 Heads-Up Championship
Daniel Negreanu, one of the most popular and accomplished poker players in the world, was an obvious “must-draft” for the 2013 National Heads-Up Poker Championship, and he initially seemed happy enough to return.
However, just one day before the start of the competition, Negreanu announced that he was voluntarily withdrawing his participation. His seat would go on to be filled by David “Doc” Sands, who had previously expressed his discontent at not being invited given his #9 position on the GPI.
Negreanu revealed his motives for backing out of the Championship in his most recent vlog. He elucidated his points, and addressed other topics, in an exclusive interview with GPI. Excerpts follow.
“If I’d made a different decision, I would regret it for the rest of my life.”
This weekend I had a little bit of a revelation, thanks to a couple of close friends of mine, about what exactly it is that I want in life. I’ve been in this industry a long time, 15 years. I’ve given my blood, sweat and tears to it. As a result, part of what that meant was, I haven’t really taken a lot of time for friends and family.
I looked back and thought, how many times have I made a commitment to friends and said yeah, yeah, we should go skiing, we can do whatever, and then bailed because a poker tournament became more important? I realized that’s not the kind of man that I want to be. It’s not the kind of father I would want to be. It’s not the kind of husband that I would want to be. And I wouldn’t want a woman who would want a man who thinks that a poker tournament is more important than time with his friends and family.
So that sort of revelation hit me. And as much as I love the NBC Heads-Up, I just know that six months down the road, if I would have made a different decision, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
On Doc Sands (his replacement)
Doc Sands is a very slow poker player with a lot of energy, a lot to say, very, very driven, obviously. One of the young up and comers. The game is going to be in his hands at some point.
I will say about Doc, too – I understood his frustration about not being picked, and I understood why he reacted the way he did, but I know that in time he’s going to look back at that and say, you know what? I could have reacted differently, and better. I was in his shoes. I’ve been there. I’m older and wiser now. Kid Poker is gettin’ older, you know. But it’s truly just a fact, like, as you get older, you start to see. So I’m happy that he got in. And I hope that he looks back at the way he handled not being chosen, in a better light in the future.
State of the Poker World: “We’re headed in the right direction.”
Part of my goal in 2013 was to create headlines that looked different than 2011 and 2012. I really feel like we’re on the right track. We’re headed in the right direction. We had a moment of just… bleargh, call it a breakdown if you will, but I think we’re turning the corner. I want to be a positive force for change, and while I’m not playing in this event, I’m still going to do everything I can to be a part of it in a positive way.
Part of my 2013 number one goal was to expand the view of what poker is, and being an ambassador, because again, the last couple of years have been rough. I welcome the role and welcome the responsibility and opportunity to connect with others and let them know what our world is really about. There are so many really great people in the poker world, but a lot of it gets overshadowed by headlines that are negative. I want to help make shine those that are up and coming and positive. I’m so proud when I see a Shane Schleger blog, a Shannon Schorr blog, about reflection, about life and positivity. Poker is what we do for a living, but it doesn’t define us. It just doesn’t define us, and if we allow it to define us, we allow the headlines to define who we are. But the people that play poker, a lot of them, the majority of them are really, really good people.
On the Global Poker Index
Well, I got personal goals, right? One of them: six pack, biceps. Another goal was to crack the Top 15 or Top 10 of the GPI in a certain amount of time. I’ll be honest, the last three months, I haven’t really cashed in a tournament, but it’s been three months that I wouldn’t change for anything, because it’s all gotten me to where I am now. I’m really happy with the direction that I’m taking myself in, and I hope that the poker world will buy in to it and see that we’re bigger than we think.
I actually met with Alex Dreyfus and I really, really respect and admire him, and I love what he’s trying to do with the GPI. The more I looked into the system – it really is the barometer right now. The GPI literally is the number one ranking system that we have, and I’d like for every televised program to use the GPI because I think that helps poker in a way. When you watch a tennis tournament, you see a ranked player vs an unranked player – that makes it interesting to people, when the unranked player wins. In poker, we can have a Dan Smith, we can have a Phil Ivey, against an unranked player. It actually is a really great way to convey to people what’s actually happening at the table, and I really believe in what Alex’s vision is. I’m enrolled, and I want to help him. This isn’t for monetary basis, I’m not being paid by him, but I like what he is trying to do, because I think that overall, this approach is really positive and really good for poker.