Whether it’s criticizing and feuding with fellow players, making a fuss over tournament rules, or even wading in to offer his take on someone else’s sticky situation, Daniel Negreanu is no stranger to controversy. Last week he logged the latest entry in “Daniel Made Someone Mad,” with the role of Someone being played by winning online poker players at large who didn’t care for his recent 2+2 post defending PokerStars’ new Spin N Go tournaments.
The original post in the thread linked to a blog post deriding the new Spin N Go tournaments as a “casino game” and announcing a petition against the format. Negreanu chimed in on the 2+2 thread the following morning with a post saying that the Spin N Go tournaments are not only good for the poker economy, but that professional players are bad for it.
I’ve seen a lot of talk about the poker ecosystem and what kills games, etc. Do you know what kills games and destroys the poker ecosystem above and beyond all the things mentioned? Winning players. Yup, you guys lol. The winning players as a whole win a lot more money than the company makes each and every year. Yet, oddly, they still offer VIP programs to the very people who are essentially “killing the games.”
If Spin N’ Go’s deterred pros from playing, that actually HELPS the poker ecosystem immensely, it just may not help YOU personally. I love, love, love, and love this concept and if it helps to level the playing field a little bit, while allowing rec players to stretch their dollars a bit further than before, I think in the end that is a win for everyone- even the winning players who are upset about it now.
It’s easy to understand why the author of the original post about the petition, a 6-max sit ’n go grinder who plays at PokerStars under the name MASUR0N1KE and owns the site on which the blog and petition are hosted, would be concerned about the potential loss of traffic for the game he crushes. He went from $150 to Supernova Elite in eight months, and according to his schedule he plays for just three hours a day and enjoys a life with a lot of free time to spend with his son. Spin N Go tournaments, designed for the casual player, are pretty much guaranteed to eat into his profit, which endangers the lifestyle he’s built for himself.
It’s also easy to understand why Negreanu feels the feels the way he does. His relationship with the company dates back seven years now, and as the face of the site it would be strange for him not to be on board with its first major new product launch since it added Zoom Poker in 2012. But beyond that, he also happens to be right. Recreational players who make deposits are what keeps the poker economy running.
Professional players essentially make their money as a side effect of those recreational players continuing to bring money to the tables, since most of the depositors aren’t particularly good at poker. If they find a format that they can crush reliably, it makes sense that they would try to keep traffic flowing into it in the face of change. But in this case, as in most when a new game format is introduced, it’s a fight against the inevitable. Spin N Go tournaments are proving popular with net depositors, so it’s hard to imagine them going anywhere.
Facing format changes that favor the recreational player, a winning player can find another format. Or he can step down in stakes and play more volume, or take any number of courses to continue playing. Or he can stop playing altogether and find something else to do with their time and all those winnings. But the one thing he can’t do is expect any online poker site to cater to players like him. That he’s able to spin a talent for cards plus bonuses and VIP programs into profitability is an anomaly and shouldn’t direct the operations of a company whose job is to make money by offering poker games.
What Daniel Negreanu has picked up on is the same thing former Bodog Poker boss Jonas Ödman of Brown Marlin Gaming has been pushing for since 2009. Ödman’s Recreational Poker Model is all about attracting and retaining the players who make deposits – the very players that Negreanu understands keep the engines of online poker running. If one of the world’s top players sees the benefits of building the business around recreational players – and a player in a unique position to know about the inner workings of online poker’s biggest business at that – it won’t be long before others see it, too. And the more quickly other pro players do come to this conclusion, the sooner they’ll be able to adapt to new realities and thrive there as well.