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Negreanu Takes A Break From the Micros and Wins Big

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After another bad day at the micro stakes tables, Daniel Negreanu decided enough was enough.

He sent out a tweet that he's going to be sitting at a $100/$200 NLHE on PokerStars with $20,000 and dared people to try and take it from him.

I think his ego got a little bruised and he wanted to prove he can win at online poker.

It's understandable that this might have gotten to him and he might have been a bit on tilt. When you normally win and lose pots that are some people's annual salary and then you struggle to beat the spare change games, that's a bit hard to take.

Negreanu started at $0.01/$0.02 NLHE with $10 and slowly worked his way up to to $0.10/$0.25 NLHE where he ran his bankroll up to $254.68. He had a harder time at $0.10/$0.25 NL but he managed to beat it.  $0.25/$0.50 proved a tougher nut to crack. Out of 12 sessions, only 4 were winners and of those, only 2 increased his bankroll by more than 20%. As of his last session, his bankroll was down to $80.38, a loss of $173.30 from when he started playing the current stakes.

That's almost 70% of his bankroll gone, most of which was lost in the last 2 days. He had to play over 4,500 hands to earn that $173 in the first place and then in just 550 hands it's gone.

A lot of people know why this high stakes player is hitting the small stakes tables. They know about his challenge and recent results. When he sits down at a table it instantly fills up and the wait list jumps into triple digits within a couple of minutes.

There's one thing that I saw people say to him over and over that I think might have gotten to him. People weren't making fun of him or saying "you suckz at the pokah" or anything like that but many times when someone won a big pot from him, or took his whole stack they would say "sorry". Pity stings more than insults.

Dude's won millions of dollars in poker and now people are apologizing for taking like $20 bucks from him. That'll knock most people down a peg or two. These people didn't join the table to lose to him. They wanted to win a big pot against a top poker pro to have something to brag about but I'm sure they were sincere in their apology knowing he's been having a rough time at these stakes.

So he did what most us guys would do in this situation. He thumped his chest and had a pissing contest.

I'm not going to do a long session analysis like I did for his Friday night run, but below is a chart showing his profit/hand. If you want you can replay his session.


Unlike his micro stakes games, the table didn't fill up right away. In fact there were never more than 5 players seated at the 6-max table. The first 1/3 of it was heads up with tuff_shark. Not much happened until he lost a couple of big pots to tuff_shark. Then he started gaining momentum and other players joined in the game.

I think he played very well. After his two big wins, the chart looks exactly like what a good small ball poker session should look like.

Chip, chip, chip away at your opponents building up your stack until they say "MFer, I've had enough of you!" and  BAM! you get them involved in a big pot when you're ahead. Then BAM! again when they try and win back their loses from the last time but wind up losing an even bigger pot.

He had a great session at $100/$200 NL. I bet winning $58.5k helps take the sting out of losing $175. Well done! Ego bruising healed.

But now what?

Is Negreanu's Micro Stakes Challenge Over?

According to his forum post about his challenge. The reason he started this bankroll challenge was to turn $10 into $100k which would be enough of a bankroll to play the $100/$200 games.

But he just played a $100/$200 NL session. I'm not saying he's ending it but I wonder what the psychological impact of playing $100/$200 NL will be.

Since he started his challenge, I don't think he's regularly played that game. He's played other high stakes non NLHE games though.

People don't struggle through tedious and difficult tasks because they enjoy the difficulty and tedium. They do it to achieve a goal. What happens now that he's bypassed the hurdles and gone straight t the finish line?

It's like playing a video game and you get frustrated trying to beat each level to see the cool scene when you beat the level. You don't like being frustrated, but you like to work hard at something and then be rewarded for your efforts. You don't go to YouTube and see if someone has already posted the scenes for you.

How Serious Is Negreanu Taking This Challenge?

I've noticed some things that make me wonder how seriously he's taking this.

He started this challenge in January of 2009. He's played only 6,049 hands since then. Some people play that many hands in a week or even a day.

He has a lot of projects and commitments and making 50 cents an hour playing poker is not the best use of his time. I get that and don't think he needs to make this a full time thing.

It's not so much how much time he's spending at the tables for this challenge but how much time he's spending away from the tables on this challenge.

Friday night he played 4 tables and lost almost 30% of his bankroll. Forget the fact it's only $50, losing a big percentage like that should make most people take some time to review their play. Instead, he was hitting the tables again the very next day. Total loss for both days about 70% of his bankroll.

It Feels Like He's Trying To Prove He Can Beat Online Poker

I don't think any sane person would question Negreanu's skills as a tournament player. He has had some criticism regarding his cash game and especially his ability at online poker.

Based on what he's said in forums, his blog, his tweets and interviews I've seen, this seems to bother him and he wants to prove he's as good online as he is live

At one point he even accepted a challenge to play a series of heads up matches against an online regular.

I get the sense that this challenge is about proving he is a good enough poker player to start out with a small amount and work his way up to some of the highest stakes online.

In my opinion, that's the wrong reason to do this challenge. He's accomplished so much in poker. He shouldn't have to feel he needs to prove anything to anyone.

It Should Be About Learning How To Beat Online Poker

Negreanu has said that you can never stop learning if you want to be successful. He's right and it's not only true for poker. So I'm a bit surprised that he doesn't seem to be using this as an opportunity to learn.

Imagine you were one of the best skiers. You could tackle any trail in the world. Then one day, all the new kids are snowboarding and that's where it's at.

So you strap on a board and head down the slope to show these punks they're not all that. Instead you fall flat on your face and people are laughing at you.

You have a few options.
  1. Go back to your skis and poles and write it off as a fad. 
  2. Keep trying to tackle the double black diamond on the snowboard until you get the hang of it or kill yourself, whichever comes first.
  3. Accept that this is something slightly different, your skiing skills should help you master it but you should take your time learning how to tackle the green circle trails first.
I really think he has the ability to become one of the top online poker players but he needs to use this challenge as a way to learn how to be instead of trying to prove he already is.

2 Response to "Negreanu Takes A Break From the Micros and Wins Big"

The Poker Meister Says....

Unfortunately [for Daniel], online games are quite different at the lower stakes than at the higher stakes. Often, moves he can get away with at higher stakes, people simply don't understand at the lower stakes - for example, good luck at representing a set at the lower stakes against AK on a K high board... no one is laying that down - PERIOD. At $20KNL, people understand lines and are able to make laydowns, because the gross cost of each pot is so much larger...

MicroRoller Says....

You're right. The games are definitely different at the micro stakes. This is especially true at .02 and .05 NL.

At .10NL you start to run into more solid players that are either multitabling a decent profit (fairly easy to exploit) or working their way up in stakes (a little tougher). .25 and .50 NL you'll run into more solid players per table. They're fairly easy to spot if you pay attention.

That said. There's still plenty of fish. One hand in a recent session went like this.

I raise from the CO with a small pair and get 3-bet by the button and I decide to call. We were both deep enough that the implied odds were good to set mine.

I flop a boat with 3 low cards and the board has 2 cards of the same suit. I check to him and he fires a cbet of about 1/2 pot.

I wasn't at the table long so didn't know much about him and I was stuck on how to play the hand to get more money in the pot. I decided to check/raise him 3x his cbet and kept chanting "Please have an over pair" over and over.

He instashoves and now I'm thinking "OK just have to dodge 2 outs."

He flips over AKo. No pair no draw.

I see that kind of thing a lot, even from decent players. People think AK is the nuts even when there's no A or K on the flop.

Playing good poker means being able to adjust to table conditions and players. I don't think the stakes matter all that much. You either make the right decision or you don't (something Poker Antonius was quoted as saying)

When learning about good BR management I kept seeing examples of people saying stuff like "I can't beat these low stakes, I'm going to move up to where players are good and will respect my bets and raises." It was always used as an example of what not to do.

The stakes will influence your decisions, but good poker is good poker. If you can't beat the fish, the sharks will eat you alive.

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