Daniel Negreanu and the 2014 Big One for One Drop: ‘It’s my biggest cash, but I don’t just play poker for cash’

The Big One for One Drop champion Daniel Colman may not want to talk but the runner-up, Daniel Negreanu, is more than happy to speak about his $8m win in this exclusive interview

PokerPlayer: You have played in both $1m Big One for One Drop events now. How did this year’s compare with the 2012 version?

Daniel Negreanu: For me personally the two were very different as I was out early in the first edition and made a deep run this year. It’s hard to say how it was different, I think it was less new obviously since it wasn’t the first of its kind, but I don’t know that it affected the media attention at all. It seemed to be very well covered.

You’ve had a brilliant record in Super High Rollers and big buy-in tournaments over the past few years. Do you think an event like the Big One for One Drop is tailor-made for your game?

In some ways yes. I’ve always prided myself on playing an exploitative style which works well against amateurs, but I also have other tricks up my sleeve against top pros that I utilize when necessary.

In such a tough field many people were surprised that there were four businessmen out of nine on the final table. Why do you think that is?

First of all, people underestimate the luck factor in this event. It starts too deep in my opinion, which creates a bit of a crapshoot around the money bubble. That, plus many of these businessmen play a great deal of poker and aren’t the chumps people may expect them to be.

How did you approach coming back for the final table on Day 3, knowing that you were still on the bubble?

I wasn’t personally worried about the bubble. I wasn’t in real jeopardy and it wasn’t a concern of mine. My thought process was more based on what my opponents like Coleman and [Tobias] Reinkemier would do on the bubble. I wasn’t too worried about the short stacks, it was clear and obvious that they would be playing carefully and only play premium hands.

Was it good for you that some of the pre-tournament favourites like Phil Ivey, Sam Trickett and Antonio Esfandiari didn’t make it onto the final?

It certainly makes the road to victory easier but I had the likes of Scott Seiver and Tobias Reinkemeier to deal with and they are no slouches.

What key hands you did play on the final table that allowed you to make it to heads-up?

I think the first hand I played ended up being the most crucial. I called Tom Hall’s 7.7 million shove with A-Q on the button. It was a questionable call to make on the bubble and I tanked for about four minutes. He said something that tipped me off to the fact he didn’t have A-A, K-K, Q-Q, or even A-K. I won’t repeat what he said exactly, but I was quite certain that my worst-case scenario was a coin flip, which I could still afford, or I had him dominated.

How was Daniel Colman as a heads-up player? And how did he carry himself in general?

He is very good obviously. In fact, he is a heads-up sit-and-go specialist so he was very comfortable in the environment we found ourselves in. He was respectful and I felt like the heads-up match was quite enjoyable and fun.

How does this achievement rank in your poker career?

I’m not sure yet. Obviously it’s my biggest cash, but I don’t just play poker for cash.

You talked about Colman’s post-game behaviour in your blog (read it here). Do you think the points he made on TwoPlusTwo would be a lot more respected if he had just said them in person to the TV cameras after the tournament had ended?

I think so. I respect anyone’s personal views on what they deem to be good or bad for people, but I do think that it was a wasted opportunity on his part to get whatever message it is he wanted to convey, across to the masses.

As a media-friendly poker player, do you feel that players have a commitment to do media when they play in such a hyped event as the Big One for One Drop?

Not really. I think it’s a personal choice. Having said that, so is tipping your waitress, or even saying thank you when she brings your food. A gracious custom that while not necessary, I think most people should at least put up with and make everyone happy.

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