Negreanu’s embarrassing bad beat outburst

Jon Pill
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Posted on: August 19, 2020 4:56 pm EDT

Daniel Negreanu has been playing poker for almost three decades. He has played in underground card rooms and the ritziest of casinos. He must have logged millions of hands online, and millions more live. Throughout all of this, he must have seen vastly more than anyone’s fair share of sick beats, one-outers, and runner-runners.

So when someone draws out on him in a medium-sized pot, one imagines his response would be a brief sigh and a strained: “Good game.”

It seems possible then, to read more into the recent video he posted on Twitter of a recent hand from the WSOP ME.


The video shows Negreanu three-bet QTos in the cutoff, get called, and see a flop of 8-9-J with one spade. He calls a bet with the nut straight and the three of spades rolls off on the turn. Villain shoves, Hero calls. With the cards over we can see the Villain has 6s-5s for a flush draw and a gutshot draw to a losing straight. 

Any spade then will lose the hand for Negreanu and sure enough, that’s what comes off the deck on the river.

So, Negreanu loses a little over third of his stack to an eight outer. Although this hand has brought out in droves the new generation of online-poker-is-rigged truthers, it is not actually an especially uncommon occurrence. That’s a bet he loses 20.45% of the time — or one fifth if you prefer.

This was not then the longest shot Negreanu’s seen come in against him. Nor was it a life and death decision. His response, though, was to hit his desk, bellow “Unbelievable, f***ing unbelievable,” and rocket out of his chair like a wasp had crawled up his adult man-shorts.

A few Rounders cutaways aim to mitigate the outburst but feel a little too much like false jolliness.

Pattern recognition

This is out of character for Negreanu if we look at the last few decades. In the past, he has mostly demonstrated composure, good sportsmanship, and an almost supernatural ability to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune without taking up arms against his sea of troubles.

This was part of his appeal. And was a large reason he became one of the poker world’s best feet — put forward as often as possible. He had a wholesome and welcoming energy that made the seed and sin of gambling less off-putting to Joe and Jane America.

Temper, tempest

At the level of weeks, however, this outburst is less of a deviation. It fits near perfectly with the whirlwind of fear and loathing that some fans fear he has become. In just the past few weeks, his fury has lit upon live stream commenters (for their unfriendly interrogatives), Norman Chad (for saying Negreanu shouldn’t threaten sexual violence on unfriendly interrogators), and Doug Polk (for being Doug Polk). 

With the last of these, one can at least sympathize.

Negreanu should really check out this video from an up-and-coming pro. It went up on YouTube in 2017 and recommends mindfulness, deep breathing, and soothing self-talk as antidotes to those bad beat feelings.

Doesn’t 2017 seem so long ago now?