It has been said that poker is a game that takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. That mastery usually comes at a pretty big price.
Poker theory is constantly evolving, and if you aren't continually working on your own game and strategies, results -- and your bankroll -- will likely be negatively impacted. No player is immune from these changes, even those who are considered the best in the game.
After coming to the realization that he wasn't playing optimally, Daniel Negreanu, the six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and poker's all-time tournament money winner with $39.5 million, had to take a step back last year to re-evaluate his strategies.
"I realized in September of last year, playing in the Poker Masters against a lot of the young Germans, that they were outplaying me in certain situations and I was a step behind," Negreanu said. "It was very clear to me. So I thought, well, I need to get to work and understand what they are doing."
"So I hired a couple of guys ... and we started working for three months -- October, November, December -- for four to six hours a day about three or four times a week, just drilling all these new concepts and teaching me game theory. Essentially reworking my mind to have my starting point about how I think of a hand totally different than I've ever done."
Negreanu expected to get worse initially and, in this very rare moment, his read was completely off. Negreanu finished second at the Bellagio in the first tournament he played after the lessons for $936,000, then added two final tables at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, four final tables during the US Poker Open series in Vegas and, just days before the WSOP started, second in the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl for $3 million. In his first big run of the 2018 World Series of Poker, Negreanu made a serious push for his seventh career gold bracelet Monday night before ultimately finishing third in the $1,500 Eight Game Mix event.
Needless to say, Negreanu is pleased with his recent education, and like he has done before with ventures like PokerVT and his commentary on a variety of platforms, including ESPN, he is ready to pass on the knowledge to other poker players looking to get better.
Negreanu will bring his poker strategies to MasterClass, an online educational platform launching on Tuesday that will bring users a unique look at how to approach the game. A key difference between this educational opportunity and others is that it isn't aimed to assist beginners, rather those who have a firm understanding of the concepts.
"The course itself is not exactly a beginners course, but what they've found works is not offering something ABC," Negreanu said. "It's more effective to give people a little bit more. I'm discussing stuff I've never shared publicly before. A little bit on physical tells and we're going to get into body language, which is not something I've typically done before. Plus we're going to talk a little bit about ranges -- how to break those down -- and think about the game from a more game-theory approach."
The MasterClass includes videos, workbooks and quizzes to ensure that students are getting a grasp of the concepts. He'll also utilize footage from televised tournaments and break down the right and wrong decisions in each situation. Negreanu recommends a month would be the ideal timing to get the most of the course.
"I've always loved watching the light bulb go off for people," he said. "You're explaining a concept and they're looking at you like, 'What in the world are they talking about?' And then when they get it and you see the aha moment, that's really, really fun. And it's fun for me to think of ways that I can communicate it, in such a way that the person understands."
Outside of the virtual classroom, Negreanu is looking to find more gold at the WSOP. Despite the financial success, his last victory came in 2013. Even without the wins, Negreanu still loves the game and is confident that the industry in this post-boom era is healthy.
"I love the game now because it's gotten so hard in some ways. At the highest levels, with the advent of computers, artificial intelligence and solvers, so many people have gotten so good, so quickly."
"When I started, you had to do the hard work on your own, there was no easy road map to teach you exactly what to do in every situation. Today, that software is available. ... It escalated the complexity of the game to another level. That's where MasterClass is different. For people who watched the poker boom in 2004, not even the top players understood these concepts. Introducing a new way, similar to what these kids are learning on computers, and explaining it and teaching it in a way that is more easily understood, and I believe I'm uniquely qualified to do that."