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EPT Madrid and Stuff

by Daniel Negreanu |  Published: May 07, '11


Historically, May is the month I choose to do absolutely nothing but golf, but this year both the EPT Grand Final and the WPT Championship have moved to May which puts a hamper into those plans.

I have been able to golf for a couple weeks and get my brown on, but I'm now in Madrid set to play day 1B tomorrow. Golf has been fun, mostly playing with Erick Lindgren and David Oppenheim.

I've been seeing a lot of Oppie lately, as after golf we've been playing poker at Aria. Much of that time has been heads up playing $1500-$3000 8-game, and the only other player we've attracted is Johnny Chan. I've run pretty good in that game, as well as the regular $300-$600 mix of Badeucy, Badacey, Badugi, Bayomomma, etc. I don't particularly enjoy playing in that game for two reasons: 1) The stakes are smaller than I'd like, and 2) The Badeucy games just destroy the mix. The typical mix also doesn't include any high variance big bet games which are absolutely essential for any good mixed game. You want some high variance games in the mix to get people a bit tilted, which makes for a better game.

Instead, the game is played at a snail's pace and the Badeucy/Badacey games are split pot games, which makes the variance minimal at best. They may be interesting games, but the speed/nature of the game will crush your hourly rate, and that should be any pro's bottom line concern.

As mentioned, thanks to the $1500-$3000 game with Oppie and Chan, my hourly rate is about $2700 overall. In the $300-$600 it's closer to $500 an hour, but mind you, this is all an extremely small sample size. I feel like a favorite in both games, but that sample size proves nothing.

I've actually been really enjoying playing. Heads up with Oppie is a great way to sharpen my skills as he plays most all the games extremely well. It's great training for the WSOP and I'm what I call "Silly confident" that I'm going to have an absolutely huge WSOP. I plan on playing high volume, and nothing less than at least one bracelet and two final tables will do. I think I can do much, much, better than that, especially considering that numbers for the WSOP will be down across the board. The 150 player fields may dip as low as 60, and the main event won't hit 4000, likely will settle around 3200, in my opinion.

As mentioned, I'm in Madrid now set to play day 1B of the EPT Grand Final. Oddly, even though I've been playing a decent amount of live poker, I imagine my no limit tournament game may be a bit rusty since I've been playing mixed games. Being rusty is often a good thing for me, though, since I generally spend a bit more time and focus on each decision to make sure I'm not making any major errors. I'll be tweeting updates from my phone as I left my IPAD in the cab on the way here. DOH!

On a separate note, in light of what's happened on Black Friday I'm considering renting a condo in downtown Toronto, exclusively to play on PokerStars. If I set up residence in Toronto, I can rent a place, and then also play online on any of my European trips or anytime I'm outside of the U.S. Not sure exactly how that plan looks, but I'm thinking my central hub would still be my home in Las Vegas, and then when there are no games in Vegas, I can spend a couple weeks in Toronto to grind online. Might be fun, downtown Toronto is a really cool area. I could see that being a really fun time. My cousin is a club promoter downtown, I'd go to some games, eat at fun places, maybe even run into Peter Jetten and the boys down there. I'm leaning heavily towards doing this for sure.

Lastly, I couldn't be more proud to be affiliated with PokerStars as they've gone above and beyond my expectations in terms of how they've handled the events of Black Friday. Not only have US customers been able to cash out their funds smoothly and swiftly, but they've also allowed people to cash out their FPP's. It's been a bit of a hectic time since Black Friday, but globally it seems like it really is business as usual for PokerStars. The EPT event here in Madrid drew over 300 players on day 1A, with even more expected to pony up the 10,000 euro tomorrow.

There is one thing that frustrates me to no end. It's been a fight I've been fighting for a decade now, and I'm so very disappointed in how few top players would publicly join the fight with me. Privately, most are disgusted by UB, but publicly they've not said a word. As a poker community, we failed miserably when it comes to the AP/UB tragedy. I did my best to always warn people not to support that company. I've told people there are plenty of safer places to play and that we shouldn't reward thieves/crooks/cheats/liars by giving this group a pass. As a community it was our responsibility to blackball this organization ages ago. Instead, too many in the media, and players a like, were weak willed and willing to give them a pass. It's a shame.

Isaac Haxton recently posted that he has $300,000 US dollars tied up in UB and is willing to sell it for 20 cents on the dollar. What's worse, is no one is willing to bite. No one is willing to risk $60,000 to earn $240,000 that UB will ever pay. Personally, I wouldn't give him $35 for it. OK, maybe I'd throw him $35 in the hopes of a miracle, but I certainly wouldn't give him $10,000. I feel bad for anyone who has their money tied up there, because the prospects of ever seeing a dime of it are very slim.

We can cast blame on Paul Leggat and players representing the site, but there is plenty of blame to go around in our community. Plenty of media outlets took UB money and often sugar coated/glossed over the scandal(s). Very few people dodge blame here. I genuinely feel some guilt as well that I didn't do more. Of course, I'm in a bit of an awkward position since I endorse a competing site and that brings into question my motives. It's a tricky position to be in, that caused me to often be a bit less critical of them as I would have liked... and I've been pretty critical.

I mean that company is a just an absolute joke! The owners (not past owners, same darn owners) cheated their customers, stole from their investors, and it looks like the last straw is that they will likely fold up like a cheap suit and run off with the rest of the customers money. Shame on them, but even more so, shame on us, the poker community, for allowing this to happen. We need to be more vigilant about stuff like this. We need to be a little more willing to rock the boat, even if that means it affects potential friendships, or it means being a bit controversial.

As a community we should have ZERO tolerance for cheaters, for liars, or for companies that take advantage of us.

Many of you remember that I was critical of Prahlad Friedman's choice to sign with UB. I like Prahlad, and that hasn't changed based on his decision, but I was absolutely disappointed in him making that decision without doing his due diligence on the company. He went from refusing to wear any logo of any kind, to selling out in the worst possible way and I was left stunned. I don't think Prahlad was aware of the current state of the company, and while he gets a pass there, a guy as smart as he is should have looked at all the smoking guns pointing to the same ownership that cheated him, still being involved, investors getting screwed out of money, etc. He didn't have to look hard to find enough evidence that should have made him rethink that decision.

As for Paul Leggat, I 100% believe he was aware of who was still pulling the strings at AP and lied about it/covered it up. He admittedly tried to cover up the original scandal, and I believe he was also completely aware of the Tom's involvement in the company. He gets absolutely no pass here.

Then there is Joe Sebok who signed with the company in the hopes of cleaning things up. I genuinely believe that was his intent. I genuinely believe he thought he could make a difference and clean up that mess of a company. I also don't personally believe he knew of the Tom's involvement, but I can't say that with certainty. I definitely think he was naive in trusting Paul Leggat with his reputation. That's a lot of faith to put in a man who's first instinct during the original scandal was to cover it up. Seems like that was a really bad read on his part.

I personally think it was a foolish mistake to ever get involved with those crooks, regardless of the price, but that wasn't my decision to make. It's hard to come back from touting a company through twitter and other social mediums, that in the end, likely won't make good on paying the players back. At this point, why would they pay the players back? The site is going under, so paying the players in the hopes of more good will would be useless. It would be the "right thing to do," but I don't that matters much to them. If you had money on UB/AP come to terms with the fact that it's gone forever, and in the case of a miracle, think of it as free money. That's sad to say, but you don't really have many other options at this point it doesn't seem like.

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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