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Leaving Las Vegas

by Daniel Negreanu |  Published: Aug 20, '10


We filmed another successful season of The Million Dollar Challenge which will start airing on Sept 19th I believe and it will make for some entertaining television as we ended up with another colorful cast of characters. I can't reveal any results, so you'll have to tune into FOX to see what happens with that. I love doing this show because it's just so real. It's not about the poker, the poker is just a vehicle to help create the drama and the life changing moments for the contestants on their journey. You just don't see real tears too often on a poker show, and the emotion on MDC is raw and real. I love it.

I just finished taping PokerStars.Net The Big Game and played in 3 of the 6 weeks. Every show I played in had a different feel and dynamic to it. One was very chatty, another was full of crazy action and huge swings, and the last one was just super tough poker in a top notch field. Every week on the show is a little bit different, which is good because if you don't love one week, maybe you'll enjoy the next batch of characters.

On that note, I thought I'd touch on a subject that comes up often on forums and with a lot of the great young players who want to appear on these poker TV shows. It is reminiscent of what poker used to be like in the old days before casino poker and the internet. If you were a good player looking to play in a private game, you'd have to have something to offer. Either be likable, or give some action to help make the game juicier even if it means giving up some precious short term EV.

Poker on television can be exciting for various reasons: table banter, high level play, or even crazy loose action. So what if you are a tight aggressive young kid who doesn't talk much, and won't give any loose action to warrant a return invite? Chances are, your seat will be filled by someone else who "gets it."
The Big Game truly does offer opportunities for many of the young, great players to make a name for themselves, and some of them failed miserably at making an impact, while others absolutely shined.
My advice to you if you are one of these young guys who gets an opportunity to play in one of these juicy TV cash games is to:

1) Think about your LONG TERM EV and don't be a freaking nit! Give some action and be creative. ABC poker is how you make your living, but if you get invited to a poker show to entertain people, then throw in a straddle sometimes, or take some weird lines once in a while that might be funny or even really awesome. Nits are bad for the game.
2) Be real. If you are a likable person be yourself, and if you are a bit of an instigator, there is always room for "villains" as well.
3) Don't take 20 minutes for every decision. Seriously, when certain players are at the table that waste too much time on decisions it costs loads of money for the the production. Two slow players can literally see taping take an extra two hours and that adds up to A LOT of man hours.

Poker has changed so much since I started playing and one area is actually a concern to me and it relates to social skills. In the old days, when tourists came to Vegas the local pros understood that it was important to make the tourists feel welcome and make sure they enjoy themselves as they lose their money. They'd give a little action, make small talk with him, and remember his name and ask him how his family is doing. It was very personal, and pros realized that they were not only poker players, but they also had to entertain, much like hosts.
That skill is lost on most young kids today that grow up playing behind a computer screen. When a fish quits, they can immediately sit out and not feel bad about it. They don't feel the need to entertain a bad player at all, it's a bit impersonal in that sense.

Some of the young kids TOTALLY get it. Durrr is a perfect example. He is one of the best NLH players in the world today, yet he can still find rich guys to play with him because he is genuinely friendly. I don't think it's even an effort for him, or that its a ploy, but there is no question he understands that by a fish liking to play with him, that's good for his bottom line.

So if you aren't all that talkative or charismatic, and are a great young player looking for opportunities to play in TV games... then you need to give some action. It's as simple as that. No one wants to watch a guy play 6max with a VPIP of 20-24 that doesn't say a word, won't straddle, and is just there to take advantage of the fact that everyone else is trying to create an entertaining poker show.

I was so proud of some of the kids who I KNOW where playing higher than they normally do, yet still were witty, engaging, happy go lucky, and gave action. You know who you are, and the poker world is in for a real treat. Some true poker stars will be born on The Big Game.


Tonight I'm headed to LA to play in the WPT event at the Bike. It's a $5000 buy in this year and I really have no idea how I'll do. I've been playing cash games exclusively since the WSOP both online and on the show, and I'm not really sure what kind of adjustments I'll need to make for the tournament. I guess I will just play it by ear and see what the table dynamic looks like.

If I bust, I think I'll hang out in LA for a few days and then I'm going to make my first trip to Villamoura for the EPT event there. It's a cool place I've heard, and on Sept 1st and 2nd there is a super cool tournament where you golf on day one, and based on how well you score, you get bonus chips for the poker tournament the next day! Should be fun.

September means WCOOP and I'm going to try and play in as many as I can, but I will have a busy schedule with WSOPE and EPT London also around the corner. I'll also be filming something in LA the first part of the month.

After London I'll be spending a few days in Toronto for my annual hockey draft and then I may do a mini-media tour in the city before heading home to Vegas.

I'm feeling pretty good overall. Healthy, and 12 lbs lighter than I did two months ago. Unfortunately I didn't get through the whole P90X program and only finished 9 weeks. I plan on trying to stay active, though, and continue to eat a low carb diet so the love handles don't come back. I also don't really plan on drinking too often, but I do plan on enjoying life and making the most of each day!

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 and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column.
Read all of Daniel Negreanu's poker blog and poker articles at Full Contact Poker.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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