WCOOP 2014: Alan "Mr Negreanu" Gold on being Player of the Series... and that username
As we reported--amid what proved a big day for headlines--the WCOOP Player of the Series was won yesterday by British player Alan "Mr Negreanu" Gold, securing the title in the hours before the Main Event came to a conclusion. Gold topped the leader board with 350 points, earned from a whopping 17 cashes over the 66 WCOOP events.
Gold put in a remarkable effort and got remarkable results in return. What's more the results book him seats in both the PCA and EPT Grand Final Main Events in January and May of next year, not to mention one in the TCOOP Main Event in between.
We spoke to Gold shortly after his victory, taking the chance to look back on three weeks of hard work and graft, as well as a nerve wracking conclusion which had the title hanging in the balance right until the end.
First though we had a more pressing question. What was the story behind his rather conspicuous screen name?
"I hate my screen name," said Gold, 32, and from Scotland. "It's cringey! I think I picked it in 2003 after watching Daniel on TV. What I would give to change it! No offence to Daniel, I'd just rather have another name. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't like his screen name to be Mr Gold either!"
It may be an unusual name for a player who has made a reputation by results, but then after 17 cashes it has lost some of that obvious connotation - a bit like when you repeat a word over and over again until it loses its meaning. Now "Mr Negreanu" has come to be a familiar tag on the pay-out lists of online tournaments everywhere, including the WCOOP. Recording 17 cashes (second only to Russian player vovtroy"), meant Mr Negreanu reached the stage where it seemed every event he played turned to, well, Gold.
"At one point I was actually really disappointed if I bricked all three tournaments in a day," Gold said, although the effort to play, to cash, and in one instance nearly win, comes at some price.
"This is the hard bit about these big series and MTTs in general," he said. "I have a lot of respect for full time tournament grinders. The hours are brutal to say the least. I honestly don't know how they do it. I only did it for three weeks but it was essentially 'gg social life'. I'm also a single parent to two young kids aged four and two, which is not easy at the best of times never mind on two hours sleep! Thankfully I had a lot of help where needed from family."
That help, combined with 11 years' experience as a professional player, gave Gold an edge. There was also something to be said for being familiar with a variety of games. Gold's cashes were eclectic to say the least, coming in hold'em, Stud, pot-limit and five-card Omaha, triple draw, and even Badugi.
"It helps when you play all different games (this also keeps the boredom and monotony to a minimum), but it essentially doesn't mean anything. "The only thing that matters is how much money you won. I'd rather have less cashes and more money of course."
It was in Event #15 that Gold came closest to a WCOOP title, finishing second to janik446 in a Stud Hi/Lo contest. In fact, of the top five finishers on the leader board only Gold and RolldUpTrips were without a win, although missing out by the narrowest of margins didn't really concern Gold in the grand scheme of things.
"It was stud/8 so the prize pool wasn't huge, there was only a $7k difference between first and second and there's a $30k or so prize for player of the series," he said, before adding. "I would have loved to have won one though."
But this being the leader board, Gold's WCOOP meant looking out for other results as much as his own. Particularly those of Assad91, whose two WCOOP 2014 wins in the space of a week put him within reach of top spot going into the Main Event, more so as he reached Day 2. For Gold it meant keeping an eye on his opponents.
"There were some absolutely fantastic players, but fortunately nobody put together a great weekend, myself included. It's not easy to final table tournaments at will! What Assad91 and Aggro Santos did, winning two big WCOOP titles, is way more impressive. But hey-ho, the rules are the rules!"
Here's how "Mr Negreanu" accumulated the 350 points it took to win WCOOP Player of the Series.
WCOOP-01: $109 NL Hold'em -- 295th place, 15 points
WCOOP-02: $215 NL Hold'em - 411th place, 10 points
WCOOP-06: $215+R NL Hold'em - 193rd place, 5 points
WCOOP-11: $320 NL Hold'em - 94th place, 5 points
WCOOP-15: $320 Stud H/L, $100K Guaranteed -- 2nd place, 80 points
WCOOP-16: $215 PL Omaha - 33rd place, 25 points
WCOOP-19: $109 NL Hold'em - 932nd place, 5 points
WCOOP-22: $215 NL Hold'em - 535th place, 10 points
WCOOP-24: $700 NL Hold'em - 30th place, 25 points
WCOOP-29: $320 FL Badugi - 20th place, 20 points
WCOOP-35: $320+R PL Omaha - 19th place, 25 points
WCOOP-36: $320 Triple Draw 2-7 - 22nd place, 20 points
WCOOP-43: $215 NL Hold'em -- 1,069th place, 5 points
WCOOP-46: $320 PL 5-Card Omaha - 6th place, 50 points
WCOOP-53: $215 NL Hold'em - 298th place, 5 points
WCOOP-54: $2,100 PL Omaha - 28th place, 20 points
WCOOP-58: $530 NL Hold'em - 22nd place, 25 points
Total: 350 points
From all of that what did Gold consider to be the high points?
"I was proud of a few performances, and not so proud of some others!" he said. "Unfortunately I ran really badly in a few when it mattered most. It's hard to get deep that often and not have a huge score somewhere along the line. This is another reason I respect the MTT players, just to keep picking yourself up after the disappointment of getting so close to huge cashes and keep playing day in and day out. It's hard work."
While Gold is humble in the face of more seasoned MTT players, it's hard not to wonder why he might not consider himself among that group given the details on his own resume, starting with his live record.
Last year he won UKIPT Galway, picking up €187,000. Back online he earned $84,000 in the WCOOP Challenge Series last month, the perfect preparation for the real thing.
But perhaps Gold's outlook on the game differs slightly. As he put it, his real achievement is not measured in tournament wins or numbers on a spreadsheet. It's more about supporting himself and his family for the past ten years. There's no stricter bottom line than that. Regardless of whatever else is going on in your life you have to perform at your best at the tables, something that Gold is certainly familiar with.
"The last year or so has been my roughest at the tables of my career. I've had a lot of personal problems to deal with and it definitely affected my poker game so badly, a lot worse than it should have honestly. Hopefully I've turned the corner now and can get back on top of things and start playing better again."
Thankfully, the evidence on this latter point seems to suggest "yes".
And so Gold will be the newest WCOOP Player of the Series to travel to both the PCA and EPT Grand Final next year. How exactly did he celebrate when he knew that top spot was his?
"I went to sleep!" confessed Gold. "I told some family and friends. My brother Joe would probably be the happiest 'cause he gets to go on another couple of free trips! I think he's getting used to them!"
But then all this success, this hard three week slog, means a little more than just a trip to the sunshine this winter.
"It's great to have some time off for a while and I get to spend a lot more time with the kids," he added. "That makes me more happy than anything right now."
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.