Great friends Daniel Negreanu and Padraig Parkinson talk life, loves and drinking. Read the second instalment of Keir Mackay’s fun-filled, foul-mouth interview
From the dangers of TwoPlusTwo to living like degenerates, poker’s odd couple grabbed a pint or three and, as ever, they weren’t afraid to speak their minds. So if you’ve ever wondered what Negreanu really thinks of Erick Lindgren’s money woes, or why Parkinson wants to give it all up and work in a soup kitchen, sit tight, pour yourself a Guinness and get ready for the second part of our funny and most foul-mouthed interview with Daniel Negreanu and Padraig Parkinson. Cheers!
PokerPlayer: You’ve clocked up over 50 years in the game between you. But what’s the number one thing you’ve learned from poker?
PP: I’ve learned a lot about myself from the game. The one good thing that came out of me playing poker was the Poker for the Homeless charity I got involved in back in Dublin. It taught me to appreciate how lucky I’ve been in life, and that it’s great to give something back. There are a lot of really great guys in poker. Everyone always says players are arseholes, but we’re good guys, if
you give us a chance. Maybe the game brought that charitable nature out. I’d love to have Daniel’s money and I’d just quit and go work in a soup kitchen. He ain’t gonna f*!*ing do that [laughs].
DN: Hey, I did work in a soup kitchen! What poker’s taught me most is less about my personality and more how to understand other people and their motivations. People’s true colours come out when they’re losing at a poker table, and that usually mirrors how they handle stressful situations in real life.
PP: In a way, because you’re free as a poker player you can develop a different personality. You’re not thinking about what the boss would say or how much trouble you’re going to get in. Daniel’s
living proof; he says it exactly like he thinks it. So do I, just nobody listens.
DN: I’m sure PokerStars cringe at some of the things I say, but at least people know when I say something that’s how I feel. Honesty is something that I’m proud of. If you die and your tombstone says you were loved by everybody, then you probably did something wrong. What about highs and lows? Has poker also produced the best moments of your lives?
PP: I dunno, I’ve never had a high!
DN: Highs and lows in my life have never had anything to do with poker. Life is more than just cards. Usually my highs and lows deal with women. The highs are when your life is balanced, you’re feeling healthy and you’re doing good.
PP: I love poker, and it used to be a fixation for years, but not anymore. You see it for what it is; a wonderful way to do whatever you like. At the end of your life, if your highs and lows are determined by how many times you’ve cashed at the World Series you’ve missed the whole f*!*ing point. How would you sway the opinions of those who still look down their noses at poker?
DN: Think about the amount of money the poker community has raised for causes the mainstream has not. There’s a sense of kinship with people who struggle, a sense of understanding that we’re lucky and when you know that you feel comfortable giving $500 away to charity, or food to people in the streets.
PP: Although poker players might think at the end of the month they could have done with that $500, but what are you gonna do?
DN: In every environment there are snakes. If I had a business deal with a suit, and we didn’t sign a contract, I wouldn’t trust them. But if I gave Padraig $1,000, we wouldn’t need a contract.
PP: Better make it $2,000 [laughs].
DN: I was at the Bellagio once, and I saw a player give a guy $30,000. Someone said: “Do you know his name?” Yeah, that’s Al the Stud player. No last name. No number. No address, nothing. In the real world you wouldn’t do that. But in poker, your word is your credit card. What did you both do with the money from your first big wins?
PP: I drank half of it and squandered the rest.
DN: Mine was gone in four months. I helped, staked and loaned people, and I lost money playing. It was $120k, but it ended up being about $20k for me, and that’s easy to squander.
PP: I like to think the phrase ‘easy come, easy go’ was probably invented by a poker player.
DN: The younger generation see that as pitiful, but when you grow up you realise that life is more than just about what your bank account says.
PP: Some people miss the point. Like Daniel said, romance isn’t in poker any more. All these young guys want to get rich. We just wanted enough money to be degenerate gamblers.
DN: Doyle Brunson once said that we’re all degenerate gamblers, we just found something we could beat (laughs). How have you both dealt with the fame and media attention poker’s thrown your way personally?
PP: I’m looking forward to it
DN: My best friends are guys I’ve known since I was 17 and they still think I’m an idiot. I don’t hang out with celebrities, and when I have I’ve realised some of them are just retarded. I just don’t buy into celebrity. There are some people I’d admire and respect, but the idea of fame is weird to me. I understand it and I embrace it, but I don’t let it affect who I am. You’ve both got a lot of good advice for younger players, but what’s the best tip you’ve ever been given?
DN: Mine came from my ex-wife. She didn’t know anything about poker, but I would come home and she’d tell me, ‘don’t do anything stupid’. I thought to myself it was such a novel concept. So every time I’m in a poker hand and I’m about to make a stupid call, I just think don’t do that, Dan.
PP: I’d still call anyway. I’m too curious [laughs]. Who have been the biggest influences on your lives (aside from ex-wives)?
PP: The Pope.
DN: For me, it’s my parents. I can see how my personality has developed based on the two of them. They didn’t like it when I was a teenager and making no money. But once I bought my mum a big house she said she liked poker.
PP: I remember when Irish poker legend Colette Doherty took me aside one day and told me what was going to happen in life. She said I was going to have the whole world at my feet and I was going to f*!k the whole thing up [laughs]. And I did!
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