Daniel Negreanu – Poker Articles
Live Ones Pay the BillsPoker article written by Daniel Negreanu and published in Card Player Magazine
If you’ve been reading my columns over the last few issues, you’d know that I played in a very friendly $10-$20 game as a teenager. Heck, almost all the players in the game would get together afterward for a few drinks! The important thing about the game was that we kept the live ones happy. After all, they could play anywhere in the city at the time, and they actually may have had a chance to win in some of those other games!
This wasn’t your typical $10-$20 lineup, oh no. It was a pretty tough game, but the “group” did a good job of disguising that fact. There was, of course, me, who by then was starting to come together as a pretty decent player, but it wasn’t just me. Three of the others play hold’em regularly at Bellagio these days, anywhere from $30-$60 to $150-$300. Wait, they don’t just “play,” they crush the games. Another regular in our game makes more money playing online than anyone else I’ve heard of.
The other pros were also decent players with loads of potential, and we fed off each other. The level at which we played then made all of us better. Anyway, back to my original point.
The recreational players who played with us had a choice of more than 20 different locations a day to play, yet they played with us. How can that be? It’s simple — they had fun!
They had to have fun, because they hardly ever won, but amazingly, they came back the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that — until, of course, the well went dry and they took a week or so off. They were live ones, but they weren’t completely stupid. They knew that we all were making a living off that game, and that they could find better spots elsewhere, but they had fun.
All of the pros in the game knew that if we were going to continue to make money, we had to keep the game fun, and we all would have to make sacrifices.
I took it upon myself to lead the way. We got the players into the game at noon, but they’d have to see action or they’d bore easily. So, every day at noon, I always raised the first hand, regardless of my holecards. That would set the tone for the day, and I could ease back a little later and the game would be just fine.
If I got called on the river when I was bluffing with 7 high, I’d sometimes call out, “Three nines.” Then when the live one became disgusted, I’d say something like, “You mean I have to show it? Can’t you just take my word for it, we’re all friends here? OK, OK, you got me; take it down, buddy.” (I notice that people enjoy jokes a lot more as they are dragging a pot.)
That was just one of a million examples of how we involved the live ones in conversation — what I call “friendly needling.” You can keep a game good sometimes with your mouth rather than your actions. You can talk a loose game, and meanwhile play pretty darn well without the live ones knowing the difference. Sam, one of the tough regulars in the game, was a master at that. He wouldn’t play a hand for an hour sometimes, yet the live ones still thought he was raising every pot — strange but true.
I took a slightly different approach. Whenever I got the button, the two blinds never had to worry about whether or not they’d chop or play, because for years I promised to raise every time I got the button, and I lived up to that promise. Was that optimum play? Of course not, but who cares? That play didn’t cost me very much in the long run, but it was great for my image, and the image of our “loose, crazy game.”
The live ones saw it as exactly that, a “crazy” game. True, there was loads of action, but they saw it as crazy because they couldn’t understand it. They’d watch me make it three bets on Sam with Jclub 3club, and ram and jam the flop, turn, and river, and finally call out, “Pair of threes”. That would usually be followed up by Sam saying, ”With a queen” as he turned over the Qheart 3heart. Of course, the final board read A-K-3-10-9. It was all silly stuff to the observer, but there was some tough poker being played as far as Sam and I were concerned.
Somebody was laughing almost every pot, whether it was a result of a bad call, bad raise, bad beat, or whatever. On the outside, nobody appeared to take the game seriously; if anything, we encouraged bad play. If a live one put a beat on my good buddy Tyson the rock, I’d reach over and give him a high-five! It was that type of game.
I think the point I’m trying to make is pretty clear by now: A happy game is a good game. Besides, if you go to work every day and see sad, bored, serious faces ... well, that’s just too depressing. Who wants to work in an environment like that? So, remember, learn to poke fun at yourself, make a celebration out of horribly bad beats, and, by all means, make the live ones comfortable!
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With over one hundred poker articles spanning the last five years and a new poker article written every two weeks and published in Card Player magazine, Daniel Negreanu brings the world of poker to the tables of countless poker enthusiasts and poker players alike.
As a regular Card Player columnist, Daniel's poker articles have helped many readers learn the game of poker from the early days of an upcoming professional poker player to the realization of a true poker champion last year as Daniel became the 2004 Card Player Player of the Year, as well as, one of the most successful tournament players in history with 36+ worldwide wins and bragging rights as the WPT All-Time Top Money Winner.
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