Daniel Negreanu analyses Magnus Carlsen's poker game

Jon Pill
Posted on: May 29, 2022 11:00 PDT

Daniel Negreanu had a rare opportunity to critique Magnus Carlsen's play recently. The chess world champion traded in his pieces for poker chips at the Norwegian Poker Championship.

After tweeting about the video he had made, Negreanu even received a tweet from Carlsen suggesting that he should analyze one of Negreanu's chess games in return.

"Thanks for the kind words and the analysis @RealKidPoker," wrote the Chess World Champion. "Now it’s definitely my turn to analyze a chess game of yours!"

The chess world and poker world overlap pretty regularly. Game players like to play games after all. From Spraggy's critique of the brilliant Queen's Gambit to Daniel Negreanu playing in the Pogchamps tourney, card players can't keep away from the black and white squares.

But it is especially good fun to see the elite of both games interacting like this.

Game recognizing game

There are very few people in the world who can categorically say they are the best at something. In poker, for example, you might be able to name a few dozen players (Negreanu among them) who deserve a shot at that title, but there is no definitive way of weeding out one as the best.

Not so in chess.

Magnus Carlsen is the current world champion — a title he reaffirmed most recently in December 2021 in an eleven-game match against Ian Nepomniachtchi. He is also the highest-rated player in the world and has been for a long time. He really can plausibly claim to be better than any living human at chess.

As a result, Carlsen is a superstar in his world.

So it was a big deal when he showed up at the Norwegian Poker Championship (or Norges-Mesterskapet to give it the proper name). The Norwegian poker championship is held each year in Ireland for legal reasons. Carlsen is himself a Norwegian, an avid poker player, and a sponsored pro for Unibet in which capacities he turned up.

The hand Negreanu analyzed came from late in the tourney with blinds at 2,500/5,000 with a 5,000 big blind ante. Carlsen had about 288k in his stack.

Carlsen woke up with aces from the high-jack and despite a raise found himself on a four-way pot on an all-spade flop. When the turn came another spade Carlsen had to turn his hand into a bluff with two more barrels. Watching a chess master execute a poker move like that is breathtaking to watch.

If you want to know what Negreanu thought of Carlsen's play, you can watch the full video below:

Magnus Carlsen poker FAQs

Is Magnus Carlsen a poker player?  

Although he is a chess player first and foremost, Magnus Carlsen has recently shown a high level of skill at the poker table, having appeared in some high-profile games. He has appeared on Hustler Live Casino and has won a decent amount of money since announcing his ambition to play poker. We can expect a lot more from Magnus in the near future.

Did Magnus Carlsen win at poker?

In his highest-profile poker appearance to date, Magnus lost a $17,095 pot by playing with 2-7 – an unwise move! However, he has proven that he’s a capable poker player. In the 2022 Norwegian Poker Championships, he finished an impressive 25th out of more than 1,000 entrants.

Did Bobby Fischer ever play Magnus Carlsen?  

In chess, Magnus Carlsen and Bobby Fischer never actually met. They did cross paths in Iceland in 2006 during an open championship, but Fischer never entered the tournament. The main reason that they never competed is because they’re of a different era; Fischer stopped playing chess competitively before Carlsen was born. 

How did Magnus Carlsen learn chess?  

Magnus Carlsen learned chess from his father and has been playing the game since he was just five years old. He entered his first competitive tournament when he was eight and showed promise into his teens. He has credited his father with his dominance of chess in recent years and is grateful for his upbringing. 

Is Magnus Carlsen good at chess?  

Absolutely! Magnus Carlsen is a Norwegian grandmaster and was ranked as the number one chess player in the world between 2013 and 2023. If he’s half as good at poker as he is at chess, he could have an extremely successful poker career ahead of him. 

Featured image source: Flickr by Franz Peeters, used under CC License