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PokerStrategy.com Column - Is Daniel Negreanu The Saviour Of Poker?

This is a column from earlier this month, origially published at PokerStrategy.com.


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Negreanu in his video blog
Last week, I wrote a feature on my Top 5 Poker Troublemakers and put Daniel Negreanu in at number one. It appeared there was something of a language issue with the term "troublemaker", as it was taken by some readers to mean "criminal" or "scumbaggy".

That was completely the opposite of my intention; I actually used the word "troublemaker" to simply mean that the guys on the list start and get involved in a lot of public feuds. In particular, I referenced Negreanu as usually being on the right side of the feud, as he tends to take it upon himself to stand up for what he believes are in the best interests of poker.

He is always involved in these feuds, but recently he has taken it to another level; his outspoken video blogs on the Full Tilt story have really defined him as something of a saviour for poker.

I, for one, have loved the blogs. Not only have they been pretty entertaining, but he has also used his massive following to keep things like the FTP story firmly in the front of people's minds.

Selective criticism?

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Kid Poker has a huge following
However, he has also come under some criticism for being somewhat selective with who he chooses to take shots at. Ray Bitar, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Annie Duke have never exactly been on his Christmas card list, after all.

Some people in the poker community have asked why he isn't also speaking out in regards to some other figures who have come under scrutiny of late; players he also considers friends, such as Phil Ivey and Erik Lindgren.

The recent controversy around the second name, Erick Lindgren, has forced Negreanu's hand a little. Pressure on a lengthy 2+2 forum thread has led Negreanu to speak in more detail about the debts owed by his friend, and he has promised to make a video blog about it this month.

We all have friends who do things we are not proud of, and it cannot be easy for Daniel to have to speak publicly about this. But should he be expected to voice his opinion on his friends in the same way that he does on people like Howard Lederer and Annie Duke?

It is refreshing to see such a high profile figure candidly airing his views, particularly in an industry that is often heavily influenced by sponsors. With so many former FTP ambassadors having seemingly taken a vow of silence after the site went down, it is nice to see someone who cannot stop himself from sharing his opinions (and let's not forget, this is a man who boycotted an event run by his own sponsor).

In particular, this really is a time that we need some of the good guys to show poker in a positive light. It is becoming an all-too-regular occurrence that a once highly thought of figure in the game is exposed for having bad debt, cheating, or in some way bringing the game into disrepute. By his own admission in a video blog, Negreanu says he is "casting these stones because he is without sin", and in doing so has established himself as the 'white knight of poker'.

As a result he has created a real rock for his back, as he is inevitably going to be asked to comment on each and every scandal that transpires in poker. Because he is good friends with a lot of people on the circuit, that often means he will be asked to comment on things that could damage his personal and professional relationships.

Great power, great responsibility?

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Should Negreanu fight all our battles?
It's a cliché, but with great power comes great responsibility and if Daniel is going to continue calling out culprits in the shadier side of the game, he can't expect to be able to pick and choose his battles. That is one of the prices of 150,000+ Twitter followers, 9th place ranking in the Bluff Power 20, a weekly rant video blog, a lucrative sponsorship deal, and a small army of loyal fans. 

I don't envy him this responsibility and I admire the fact that he is starting to address some subjects he probably would prefer not to. As much I believe he has made it his responsibility to fight our battles for us, I also think the poker community needs to ease up on him, not expect so much from him, and not give him too much power. He is only one man after all, and although I believe he genuinely does what he believes is in the best interests of the game; it doesn't always mean he will be right.

I think the best thing Negreanu can do in his new role as the "people's champion" of poker is to encourage people in similar positions of influence as him to speak up when they think it is appropriate. Most professional players would kill to have the following Kid Poker does, so hopefully by following his lead, and by learning from the mistakes of some of the recent poker heroes to have fallen from grace, we will see more ambassadors for the game who speak out rather than sit back and watch bad things happen.

Is Daniel Negreanu poker's only hope? Its last saviour? Is it his responsibility to rescue us from all the bad things that happen in this game? I don't think so. But I do know that Daniel Negreanu is one of the last of the "old school" generation with an untainted reputation, and poker would be in a very dark place if that ever changed.

by Barry Carter

4 comments:

Jeff M. said...

Nice post Barry. I am kind of on the fence with Daniel, but he is definitely getting his message accross

Are you going to be covering the I-series live?

Sandeep Kumar said...

He is always involved in these feuds, but recently he has taken it to another level; his outspoken video blogs on the Full Tilt story have really defined him as something of a saviour for poker.

Chingster23 said...

Being honest is an interesting concept. I always try to be honest, in my life, and I find it gets me into trouble more often than not.

I applaud Daniel's approach and wish more people would cut out the shit and just say it as it is. But...I think the world will end up hating him for his honesty and something will come back to bite him in the arse.

It seems, in this life, the dishonest approach is the most approved one.

Lee

ARX said...

A fucking idiot is what he is.

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