As noted previously on this site, in an effort to maximize his new role as a poker host at the new Wynn Casino, Daniel Negreanu has issued an open challenge. He will play anyone at the Wynn, in any of nine different games for anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000.
In his first week, he had two takers. He probably could have played more matches, but his schedule was such that he was out of town a good portion of the week.
Daniel's first opponent was poker pro David Oppenheim. David chose to play Limit Hold em, and brought $200,000 with him. Daniel was ready, and the match was on. According to Daniel, he wasn't very lucky in this match, and got put into a fairly substantial hole early. Daniel was not able to recover, and in about 4 hours, Daniel was 0-1 in his challenges, and stuck $200,000.
These challenges have been great fodder for the internet message boards, and indeed message boards like the one at Daniel's site, full contact poker have been sizzling. In addition, Daniel has issued an open challenge to Mason Malmuth, and David Sklansky, via their message board at 2+2 publishing. Issuing a challenge to these men in the halls occupied by their staunch followers has resulted in some funny exchanges, and much banter on these message boards. Sklansky, being the math whiz that he is, has calculated his maximum advantage, and accepted Daniel's challenge...albeit with a list of caveats as long as your arm.
With the Sklansky match on hold, Daniel focused on a new challenger last night, Mimi Tran. Mimi is a world-class limit hold em player, and indeed that is the game that she chose to play. Daniel accepted, and last night at the Wynn, they played their limit hold em match - $500,000, winner take all.
This match truly was a match of two top players battling it out. Daniel shot out to a lead, but Mimi caught him twice in the course of the ten hour match, including catching up to Daniel in the eighth hour, after being down nearly the entire match to that point. This says a lot for Mimi's toughness, and she never gave up. At the end of the day, however, Daniel wore Mimi down, and wound up eliminating her at about 5am this morning. Even by Daniel's own admission this was a 'card catching game, and I caught the most cards'. Daniel is now 1-1 in his challenge matches, and up $300,000 for about 14 hours of work. The Wynn is a real winner, as the room buzzes every time these matches are going on, and the extra buzz adds to an already deafening buzz for the newest, grandest of the grand casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
A couple of things that I think add interest to these matches...Firstly, it is interesting to note that both challenges so far (you can add Sklansky's tentative acceptance to this) were for limit games. It will be interesting to see who the first challenger is who calls Daniel out in a No Limit, or Pot Limit game, which Daniel has had the most success in the past couple of years. Secondly, it should be noted that rumor has it that Mimi was backed by Barry Greenstein, who has had many a terse exchange with Daniel via message boards over the past few weeks, and at some point apparently will take Daniel up on his challenge. I just hope these matches wait until I am there to enjoy them while I am there for the WSOP (seven weeks in Vegas...Yikes! Send Cookies!).
Overall, things like this are really good for the game of poker, and I think these matches will continue to draw a lot of attention to the room, as well as to poker. At the end of the day, poker can be a game of bravado, and to stand in the center of the poker room, and say "bring it on", no matter what the circumstance is commendable to me.
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