WSOP 2017: Lights, camera, Negreanu
Some people like the attention. Some people don't. And some people just have no choice but to accept it. Daniel Negreanu exists somewhere in the overlap between the "like" and the "no choice" camps. He thrives in the spotlight, but wouldn't be able to shift it even if he decided he hated it.
It's never been more evident than tonight at the World Series of Poker Main Event, where Negreanu is keeping an entire ESPN camera crew in work.
As players went on their dinner break at the end of Level 8, someone pulled the plug on the glitzy feature table set up in the Brasilia Room--that is, the three tables with hole card readers and a set of bleachers for fans.
It means there's no live poker to watch either on TV or online at the moment, but the TV directors are keenly aware that poker's No 1 attraction is under threat. Negreanu has only around 25,000 chips and could well be knocked out during this video blackout.
That's why there are at least five men dressed in black, loitering with intent close to Negreanu's table. They're there to make sure Kid Poker isn't going to go anywhere unnoticed.
For the most part, these grim reapers of the technology age--cameras and boom-mics for scythes--stand quietly on the periphery. Occasionally they get persuaded over to another table if there's a big all-in showdown, but principally they are shadowing the Team PokerStars Pro.
You know it because the minute Negreanu wagers even the smallest portion of his short stack, it's action stations. They swoop around and position themselves with Negreanu centre-stage.
In a recent hand, Negreanu opened his button to 2,300 and Leonardo Tobias, from a comfortably-covering stack, called in the big blind. The two saw a flop of J♣T♣A♦ and Tobias checked to Negreanu, who bet 1,500. Tobias called.
By this point, the camera crew had fidgeted themselves into position, all four lined up opposite to Negreanu and peering over table-mates' heads. Negreanu was in the four seat and Tobias the six, so they were horizontal to one another: a perfect panorama for the screen.
The 6♠ came on the turn and Tobias checked. Negreanu bet 6,300 and Tobias asked for a count. Negreanu spread 17,200 out on the felt in front of him, and the scythes were being sharpened. But then Tobias folded, yielding the pot to Negreanu, and sending the crew back to their distant post.
"Pick a card, either card," Negreanu said, like a subway-car magician. Tobias chose one and Negreanu exposed the T♦. "That wasn't all I had," Negreanu went on.
Right now, Negreanu is back to around 30,000 chips. That's 30,000 chips, two sound guys, three cameramen and a couple of producers, to be exact.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.