Covering Lots of Things
by Daniel Negreanu | Published: Feb 04, '12
I started off the year decently with a 5th place finish in the super high roller in Bahamas. Had an all around great time at the PCA, probably the best trip I'd ever had there. I had so much fun that I decided to attend the Aussie Millions for the first time in a long time. Melbourne is a great city. Last two times I went to Australia I spent all my time in Sydney, but I love both cities.
I played the $100k super high roller which had a 30 second shot clock for each decision which actually works out pretty well with so many of the younger players today taking an inordinate amount of time per decision. Some of these guys are just absurd with how long they take, and yes, I'd call it a pet peeve for sure.
I couldn't get anything going in that one really, getting coolered and bad beated early on but I played extremely well I thought. I then played the main event and played really well outside of one crucial mistake where I chose to play a big pot preflop with QQ vs AA in a spot where I could have saved a lot of chips by playing it slow.
Losing a Million
I didn't plan on playing in the $250k crap shoot event, but after winning a bit of money in the TV cash games I figured I may as well and was really in "poker mode" anyway. To make a long story short, that event was devastating in several ways. I was chip leader 5 handed but it only paid three spots with 3rd paying $800k. With 4 left I was up against Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and Gus Hansen, you know, the guys from those Onyx Cup ads. Haha.
Gus was short, and I seriously wasn't getting an even remotely playable hand so I folded down from 1.2 million to 700k. Gus just seemed to keep splashing around and winning pots and all of a sudden with blinds at 25k-50k I had 765k, or 15 big blinds. Patrik raised on the button and had about 19 big blinds so I was quite sure that he couldn't call an all in without a premium hand because of the enormous bubble. I also felt like, since I was 4/4 it was my turn to be the aggressor just a little bit because these guys weren't about to play any bit pots on the bubble. With A8 I shoved and he insta called with JJ. I busted, which felt just like losing a million dollars. I remember waking up the next day a bit anxious, it's been ages since I felt like that.
The next night myself, Jason Mercier, his fiance Erica, and Patrik and his wife Maya went to see the finals of the Aussie Open and wow what an experience! Aside from having to see Patrik's mug all night, and the constant reminder of him busting me in the tourney, it was great to watch the event live and the match was insane. Almost a 6 hour battle.
I flew out of Melbourne on the 31st and when I landed something crazy happened. I tried to log into my hotmail account and it kept saying my password was wrong. I tried a few times and was puzzled and slightly worried. I had dealt with a hacker situation with a friend in the past so I knew that it was likely my email got hacked. My main concern was just having my private e-mails exposed. I have absolutely nothing to hide, really, but there is personal stuff in there about other people and I would feel bad if that got out.
I got a whatsapp message from Lex that said, "What was that all about?" I had no idea what he meant, then it dawned on me that if my email was hacked, maybe someone hacked my PokerStars account. I checked on twitter to see if there was anything on there about it, and saw one @ reply mentioning a hand I played against takechip the night before. At that moment I feared the worst. I texted my assistant Patty to see if she could log into my email account, called my agent Brian to find out if there was any activity on my Stars account.
I got the news back pretty quickly that the hacker did get into my account for a joyride. Something I'll never understand. He didn't dump money to any one specific player, he kind of just sprayed my money around several tables, ultimately losing $61,000 of my money. Not entirely sure why he didn't empty my account, but I'm thankful that he didn't.
In cases like this, it's clearly spelled out in the PokerStars user agreement, that if your email is hacked you won't be reimbursed by the company... no matter who you are. Since it's clear that my account was hacked, and it wasn't the fault of PokerStars in any way, I just have to eat the loss. Since I'd essentially lost a million a few days earlier, the $61,000 didn't really sting all that much. I was just happy to recover my email account from the hacker.
There is an ongoing investigation, obviously, and I'm hoping they catch the guy. I wish old school Las Vegas rules applied in cases like this, where you could take the guy out to the desert for an afternoon and get some justice, but alas, we don't live in that world any more. I feel an appropriate punishment would be a few swift baseball bat swings to the groin area, and possibly a castration, but that's just me :-)
Many have asked me if I was using an RSA token. The answer is no, but I will be acquiring one for future play on PokerStars. Truth is, I just didn't really understand the technology all too well and felt like it was a bit of a hassle to use, so I chose not to. I recommend that you get one, it's actually simpler than you'd think. It's like a little keychain "thingy" and the only way to access your account is to enter a number that appears on that key. Once you are in, the number will change for the next time. This way, a hacker would have to also acquire your RSA token to gain access to your account. I think they are about $15 and you can use FPP's to buy them from the PokerStars VIP store. Truth is, with an RSA token PokerStars security is rock solid. If someone is able to hack your email account, while that sucks for you, if you have an RSA token in your possession they cannot access your PokerStars account.
So the money is gone. I am not getting any special treatment whatsoever. Had the money been dumped to one account and that player tried to cash it out, I imagine something could have been done, but that's not what happened here. You simply can't ask the players who won money off the hacker to simply give it back. It's just not even an option. I accept the decision and think it's totally fair. In fact, there is precedence as it's happened to other people, so under no circumstances would I even accept special treatment in this case. It wasn't offered at any point, but even if it had, I would have said it is totally unfair.
I have done several interviews with PokerPlayer in the past, but there were a couple adjustments made to my latest cover story interview that I took exception with, because I didn't say it. I talked to them and they offered me the opportunity to set the record straight and I did so by writing a small piece for them on the state of the game, and how I felt what I said was being misrepresented.
The cover was a picture of me and it said, "How I conquered Online Poker." I never said that and certainly don't believe it to be accurate. Had it said "How Daniel Negreanu conquered Online Poker" then that would be an opinion. Not a good one, but an opinion nonetheless. My online game has certainly improved, but I cringed a little bit when I saw that headline.
There were two other phrases I didn't like. The Title being "What's Wrong with You?" and then "Daniel Negreanu is asking what the hell is wrong with players today?" That seems rather combative and isn't accurate. I was referring mainly to the state of televised poker in the US at the moment, and how the lack of online poker funding for shows, coupled with a limited crop of younger players who combine a high skill set and a big personality, makes it a tough sell in the US at the moment and we are seeing a lull in coverage. It wasn't at all a diss on the great young players in the game in the least, and I felt like the lead intro to the article made that unclear, so I decided to clear it up.
They edited down my comments about Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer, and Chris Ferguson, but they definitely got the gist of my vitriol towards them. I'm disgusted by them and what they've done to smear the game with putrid decision making. Ray is a buffoon, Howard is arrogant, condescending, and incompetent, and Chris is a liar and has the warmth of a snow pea. These were never my friends, I never cared for any of them. I never trusted them for a second, and my "read" was always that these were not my kind of people. Why are they different from the rest of the group? These three were on the board, admittedly making all the decisions, and jeopardizing millions of dollars worth of players money that still hasn't surfaced. You guys suck. I hope to never see any of your faces at the WSOP anymore, and I hope you live with the shame you deserve for the rest of your lives. Your own personal, private hell. You deserve all the wrath you've received from the poker world, and much more. You are scum and each of you absolutely deserves a few swift baseball bat swings to the groin area, old school Vegas style.
Add up the bubbling the million dollars, getting hacked, and the PokerPlayer magazine article, and it doesn't even come close to the betrayal I dealt with this week on a personal level. I'm shocked and disgusted. This has nothing at all to do with poker, or money, but it is the worst betrayal I've ever dealt with in my life and I am genuinely grossed out. As the title states, it's "Personal Stuff" so I can't go into detail, but it capped off an eventful January in a pretty big way.
As disheartening as the bubble was, I thoroughly enjoyed playing poker in that event and in the cash game prior. It really got my juices flowing and I just love playing against top competition. I had a chance to play with Ivey again, both in the main event as well as the two high roller events, and he was a motivating presence. We caught up, and actually had more strategy based discussions than we'd had in ages. This is going to come off really wrong, but I don't care because it's true: he reminded me of a lot of things I taught him about tournament poker years ago. Phil wasn't really a "tournament guy" when he was younger. He was a cash game grinder and needed to make some tweaks to his approach to tournaments. Some of the concepts I talked to him about absolutely helped him improve his tournament results and I was happy to see it. He returned the favor last month. My gosh, it's so clear to me now. I can't wait to play another tournament. There are a few things he does differently, that I've always done differently, that I got away from a little bit.
I thought Ivey played remarkably well in the $250k and the other two events. He was really into it, and seemed to care. Poker is definitely better off with him back in the game and he seemed fired up for a big 2012 which should make poker fans happy.
My next trip is going to be in Brazil Feb 15-21 for the LAPT event and some fun at Carnivale. Right after that I'll be playing back to back WPT events at the Commerce and then Bay 101. I feel really good about a big score coming soon. I can't wait.
I definitely shouldn't be sharing this, but I can't help it, I have nothing to hide and I'm not uncomfortable in the least with sharing aspects of my personal life. I was dating Krisztina Polgar, Miss Hungary Earth 2008 up until about September of last year and she is an absolutely beautiful woman both inside and out. She treated me better than any woman ever has and I genuinely appreciated it. Things didn't work out, but I still consider her a friend and always will.
After that relationship I decided to take six months off any serious relationships and I think it was a really good decision. I've got another two months to go, and then maybe I'll be open to something like that again, but as for now, I'm staying single and just focusing on me. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm happy with where my life is headed and really excited about the future.
I've always taken that role seriously. I know that I'd make for an awful politician because I always prefer to choose the brutal and honest truth and I'm not afraid to rock the boat. My history and track record has proven that to be the case. I've never screwed anybody out of money, I've never cheated anybody, and I've never been one to sit idly by when I see people doing wrong. I'll call them out when appropriate. Whether it was Men Nguyen, Annie Duke, JJProdigy, Russ Hamilton, Howard Lederer, etc. it's our responsibility to shed light on any shady behavior that people in our industry are involved in.
I've never been involved in any scandal. I do my best to associate with people I trust and that's served me well over the years. I've spoken out on several big issues over the last 10 years or so, sometimes standing alone, but I've yet to be left with egg on my face. For years I told everyone UB was shady, well before the first of the many scandals broke. I have a lot of "I told you so's" saved up, but they don't really serve any purpose after the damage has been done.
When it comes to big picture poker issues I'm always on the side of the majority of players. Not just the top pros, but what would be best for the game as a whole. I'm a rules nit, a structure geek, and as Joe Hachem pointed out at the Aussie Millions, "You always see all the angles don't you?" I'm very anal about creating a level playing field where nits and shot takers can't bend rules to their benefit.
It feels like now, more than ever, poker needs more positive ambassadors to help promote the game globally. Guys like Phil Galfond who's been one of the bright spots of the younger generation, simply gets it. His blog about online poker was a must read and it's clear as you read it that he really cares about "what's best for poker" rather than what's best for him. We need more guys like that to step up and speak out.
One of the sacrifices about being an ambassador to the game is that sometimes people aren't going to like you, or what you have to say, especially if it negatively impacts them. You could lose some friends, but they probably weren't worth keeping anyway.
Daniel Negreanu is the 2004 CardPlayer Magazine and World Poker Tour Player of the Year. He presents his poker strategies in one-on-one virtual training at pokervt.com and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column.
Read all of Daniel Negreanu's poker blog and poker articles at Full Contact Poker.