Daniel Negreanu speaks to PokerPlayer about the WSOP: “Chip Reese versus Phil Hellmuth is a perfect example. There is no doubt that Chip is the better player – way, way better all round”

Dave Woods gets Kid Poker’s thoughts on this year’s World Series just before it kicked off

You’ve had two final tables and you’ve gone fairly deep in other events – are you happy with how the Series has gone for you this year?

No, I’m very hard on myself and if I don’t win, like, eight bracelets I deem it a failure (laughs). The event that really hurt me was the H.O.R.S.E. – that’s the one I want to win more than any other and the one I consider the true World Championship. I was chip leader and then boom, 30 minutes went by and I got punched in the face about three times – it hurt! I’d already envisioned what things were going to be like at the final table.

So for you, the H.O.R.S.E. winners are the very best all-round players?

Chip Reese versus Phil Hellmuth is a perfect example. There is no doubt that Chip is the better player – way, way better allround. But Phil may be better at exploiting weaker players to get their chips. Phil may win more tournaments because of this but put them on the biggest stage at the Big Game, and Phil would be the biggest loser and Chip the biggest winner. Phil will disagree of course, and Phil’s very welcome to join the Big Game.

Barry Greenstein has said that H.O.R.S.E. is still only a limit event and not a true test of the best poker player. Is there any way to work out who really is the best player?

Barry Greenstein’s right, but the H.O.R.S.E. is the best barometer we’ve got at the moment. There is another way. I’ve got a structure for a tournament that’s a 24-day event. It’s a three-day event in each game and then a points-based system, which you accumulate, to work out who the world champion is.

A lot of players complained about the structure of the H.O.R.S.E. event. What did you make of it?

The limit structures were absolutely horrendous and I take some responsibility for that as I’m on the Player Advisory Council. We trusted a couple of people to do the structures and nobody really looked at them, but as soon as I saw them I said, ‘Wow, these are terrible.’

What was wrong with them?

They developed structures where you couldn’t get eliminated for the first five hours no matter what buy-in event you were playing because the blinds and levels were so meaningless. By the time you were playing meaningful blinds no one, not even the chip leader, had a lot of chips.

In the Stud event I finished fifth in I was tied for chip lead on the final table and then lost three hands without a raise to the river and I was out. Now that sort of thing should never happen. I was hoping we could change them mid-stream but Harrah’s wouldn’t budge once the structures had been released.

How much influence does the Advisory Council really have with Harrah’s?

Harrah’s has listened to a lot of things that we’ve said and we’ve been able to get a lot of stuff done that probably goes unnoticed. The only problem is that once the WSOP starts and something gets neglected we can’t get it changed quickly. Everyone might agree but Harrah’s still has to go up the corporate ladder.

Are you travelling over for the WSOP Europe?

Yes, definitely. I’m going to spend more time in Europe playing some European Poker Tour events and the WSOPE, but I don’t even know if I’m looking forward to it. You know, a lot of pros are thinking, ‘Well, we’ve got the WSOP, so what is this? Are they even really bracelets?’ I’m sure it will be classy though, we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Player

The player Daniel Negreanu is a true poker legend. Third in the all-time tournament money list (only bested by Hachem and Gold who made the bulk of their cash in one hit), Negreanu is also one of the best cash game players in the world. As well as this he’s on the WSOP Player Advisory Council, which gives him some influence over the biggest poker event in the world.

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