Shady secrets of High Stakes, Negreanu’s revelations


Daniel Negreanu decided to come back to high stakes world this year and faced known to every Russian problem: those players “with connections” have more rights than others. Love to the private high stakes games came from Macao and took over all the popular rooms in Las Vegas.

Last year Daniel hasn’t played a single hand at live cash tables. In the beginning of the year the Canadian set a goal: to play at least 200 hours and year at least $250k.

The first playing session of mixed games took place in Aria, where Negreanu was invited personally. Blinds were $300-$600 with $600 antes. There were quite strange exemplars of the game besides traditional poker formats.

One of them is called PLO Flip. Each player contributes $10k, gets dealt four cards and they deal the board cards. The best hand wins. As easy as a pie, no skill involved.

“This format lasts just one hand – however any player can pay $1000 for an additional round. In that case other players get EV+,” writes Negreanu.

Then there is Very Crazy Pineapple – Hold’em with three pocket cards one of which is got to go after the turn.


Other poker games of mixed games in Aria:

Pot Limit 2-7 Razz
Pot Limit Double Draw 5 Card Draw High
Pot Limit Badugi
Pot Limit 2-7 Triple Draw
No Limit Hold’em
2-7 No Limit Single Draw
Pot Limit Omaha
Pot Limit Omaha H/L.

First session was a success for Negreanu: +$134,100. The Canadian also noticed:

  • Game had a very nice tempo. They don’t invite “thinkers” who analyze every step for half an hour to these games. Vivid example of this is famous pro Byron Kaverman who always thinks about all the things in the world at the table.
  •  “It is not the way it used to be now. Back then, if you had a buy-in and there was a vacant seat, you could have just sit and play. Yesterday there were three high stakes games in Aria and Bellagio and all of them were private,” notices Canadian pro.

The second session: Bellagio, without “politics”

Next time game took place at Bellagio: with blinds of  $1500-$3000 for limit games; PL and NL with $30,000 cap, blinds $500-$800 with  $1200 ante. According to Negreanu’s words, the game was public, there was no need in knowing “the guy” to get at the table.

“The game usually ends like this: “Tomorrow at 9?” The first eight guys to show up at the time take a seat at the table. The others join waiting list,” Daniel tells in his blog.

There is an opportunity to play should one of the players take a temporarily step back from the table. A new player joins and plays until the owner of the place is back.

Thirteen games mix looked like this:

Omaha 8
Stud 8
No Limit Hold’em
Pot Limit Omaha
2-7 Triple Draw
2-7 no limit single draw
2-7 Razz
2-7 Triple Draw no limit
Pot Limit Omaha 8.


Negreanu lost $84,700 during that session…But that is not the most important part in this case.

To make an appointment beforehand about the game is OK. But then there are additional factors which come for other players:

  • The seat is available but it is prohibited to take it.
  • Player is in the waiting list while he is not even in the casino.
  • One can’t put his name on waiting list.
  • Weak players get invitation to this “private” game on playing session

These are the rules Negreanu can’t cope with. He also gives a definition of a successful high stakes cash player:

“It is not the best who earns more than everyone does. The most successful work on connections, which allow them to

а) get invitations to the sweetest games

And b) arrange those games by themselves with invitation to the ones you choose”

Daniel doesn’t give a receipt for treatment of all these problems. More to that, he mentions young geniuses who try to make a transition to live games and facing those troubles. Only few of them are able to adjust and make those connections needed.

Should high stakes game be available for everyone? Should people with connections be judged? Should one go make friends among those people in private games to get better conditions? There is some sort of thin line between all this and it’s thinner than we think.


You got %count% points
Report Bug