Las Vegas — On TV and on the Internet, Daniel Negreanu is very entertaining. In person, Negreanu is a force of nature.
At the World Series of Poker’s USD 1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout Tuesday, Negreanu’s table (Blue 5 — one of the outer tables in the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino) adopted his outgoing personality, creating an entertaining table for fans to watch. And Negreanu played the part of conductor brilliantly.
Negreanu acted as if he was playing at home game rather than a big-league tournament.
The conversation was light, fun and constant. At one point, Negreanu was asked if one of his ex-girlfriends was Korean. Negreanu responded with a laugh.
„Not only was she Korean, my wife was Korean (he’s now divorced), my girlfriend before that was Korean, and the one before that was Korean.“
„I think I dated five in a row at one point,“ Negreanu continued before saying he was done dating Koreans for a while.
At another point in play, Hansu Chu stopped one of the women hawking cigarettes and candy to buy a pack of smokes.
„How dare you sell that stuff to him,“ Negreanu said, mostly in jest. „That’s like giving an addict crack.“ Negreanu then offered to help Chu break his smoking habit.
„I’ll do anything to help you quit,“ Negreanu said. „I’ll even pay for rehab.“
While some of the conversation was personal, much of it centered on the game, and sometimes the crowd joined in.
„I’m going to send you home to France,“ Negreanu told one player who was all in against him.
„No, don’t do that“ came the plea from a French national on the rail watching the action.
Negreanu looked up and grinned at the fan rooting the Frenchman on. Then he turned his attention back to the table. And sure enough, Negreanu won the hand and sent his opponent packing.
After another Negreanu raise forced an opponent to fold, someone from the crowd yelled „I would have folded in an instant to your raise.“
„I had him too,“ Negreanu said, directly to the fan.
The only thing that silenced Negreanu during the course of play was the massage he received during play. With his head and chin pressed up against a purple pillow, Negreanu’s chatter level dipped while the masseuse kneaded and relaxed his muscles from neck to toe — with an encore performance on the neck.
While Negreanu was getting his massage, Chu took off his headphones and asked for updates on Tommy Hang in the USD 1,500 H.O.R.S.E. event. Hang, to Chu’s delight, had chipped up and was in the top three, trailing Phil Hellmuth and Matt Grapenthien. When Negreanu’s massage ended, so did his day. Minutes after paying and tipping his masseuse, Negreanu was eliminated from the tournament.
A gracious Negreanu then took time to sign a book being held out to him at the rail, took some pictures with the fans in attendance and then made a quiet exit out of one of the side doors in the Amazon Room.
The grind of the WSOP looks like it’s starting to get to Andy Bloch. After several hours of play in the USD 1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout, Bloch started stacking his chips in the shape of a fun-looking pyramid. When I asked whether it had been a long Series, he acknowledged it had been with a nod and a rueful grin.
Scotty Nguyen looks like he’s still riding the euphoria wave from his victory in the USD 50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. He was walking around the floor during a break this evening throwing chips for tips at dealers.
Fewer people wearing headphones while playing than last year. Sunglasses are almost impossible to find.
The WSOP has been pretty lenient in enforcing the phone rules this year. Negreanu was frequently checking his phone and either making notes or texting when he wasn’t involved in hands (and amazingly good at setting the phone down before the cards were dealt for the next hand).
And other players have been seen checking their phones at the table.
„The phone rule is being enforced on case-by-case basis this year,“ said WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla.
„As long as players are not talking away at the table and disrupting play, it’s tolerated, Dalla added.
The only phone rule issue that’s occurred this year involved Amarillo Slim, Dalla added. A phone rang while Slim was involved in the hand. Slim got up and left the table to tell the caller that he was in the middle of a hand. But the hand was mucked because „he’d moved too far away from the table.“