For most players, chips mean chat. But as we have already established, Daniel Negreanu is not “most players” and the size of his chat does not depend on the size of his stack.
When we last dropped in on Negreanu, he had one of the smallest stacks in the room, but he was still an effortless ringmaster at the circus of a Day 2 restart, nattering to fans, goading Phil Hellmuth and even taking photographs on behalf of a supporter on the rail.
Since then, the good karma built up by Negreanu has been reflected in the steady growth of the chips in front of him. There has been an outpouring of good wishes on Twitter for Negreanu (see below) while his own timeline has told a story of steady accumulation.
“Got back to starting stack with 57k,” he said at 4:44pm. At 7:07pm he said, “I have 100,000 in chips in the World Series of Poker Main Event.” That update got 1,100 “likes”. That’s how popular this man is.
As many have noted today, Negreanu is especially easy to locate even in the hangar of the Pavilion Room. There are now about 25 people standing beside his table, watching his every move and hanging from his every word. But here’s another remarkable thing: the white card suspended from the ceiling above Negreanu’s table displaying his table number is the only one in the whole section that is swinging from side to side.
The rational explanation is that the table is directly beneath the cool stream of an air conditioner, but it is too early to rule out cosmic forces. The power of personality is shimmering on the upward jetstream.
To the nuts and bolts: Negreanu presently has about 130,000 chips. That’s not in the top 10 for the tournament or anything, but it’s a nine-fold increase on the start of the day and is more than 100 big blinds at this stage.
Negreanu said he wanted to have 200,000 by the end of the day, and he is well on track.
He is also continuing to dominate the table, as well as the whole area around him. In between hands, he leans back to talk to supporters on the rail, evidently remembering one woman in particular who had apparently swung by earlier, went away for dinner and has come back on her way to see Penn & Teller. She still seems taken aback that Negreanu is interested in her day, but he is.
All the conversation at the table is also going through Negreanu, be it a complaint at the unprecedented number of rail-birds (“Dammit Daniel, I hate people behind me. It’s all your fault. I get so paranoid. It’s all your fault.”) or an attempt to get conversation started even with some icy central Europeans. (Negreanu: “That sounded French?” Opponent: “Croatia.” Negreanu: “Same thing.”)
He is also complementing the dealer on her manicure (“Pretty good nail care there, Allie.”) and offering advice, when asked, on the state of the game.
Aaron Kweskin was the player who sought Negreanu’s endorsement after he moved all in with 6♦6♠ and was called by Navid Lofti’s A♦10♦. The board bricked and the pocket pair held up, prompting Kweskin to ask, “Did I play it right, Daniel?”
Negreanu said, “You did all right. I would have folded.” But before the joke could be misinterpreted he asked, “How much did you have? Twenty thousand?”
“Seventeen two,” Kweskin said.
“You did just fine,” Negreanu said.
It wasn’t so great for Lofti. He was left with a short stack and open shoved a few hands later. Kweskin found A♦K♦ and finished the job as Lofti could show only 9♦10♠.
“Thank you guys, good luck everyone,” Lofti said. The hand he sought to shake belonged, of course, to Negreanu, alongside whom he had sat all day.
The short version of this is that the Negreanu show goes on, the conversation, the smiling, the goofing around. And amid it all, the poker is also pretty special. There’s still a long road ahead before he can match last year’s achievement, but he has taken some giant strides in the right direction this afternoon.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.