According to Canadian pro Daniel Negreanu, the modern dominance of the game by the internet generation means poker is now in danger of becoming too serious and boring.
Negreanu cashed in at his first live tournament in 1997 and is currently ranked number three on Poker’s All Time Money list with $14,901,459 in winnings.
Over the years Negreanu, possibly more than any other player, has done his best to keep up with the changing trends in poker but says he fears that the game now lacks the sort of characters who brought poker to the public prominence in the first place. Talking to online site ‘pokerplayer,’ Negreanu explained:
“When poker became popular you had people like Devilfish, Sammy Farha, Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey. Today the story is: ‘I dropped out of college and I grinded 20 tables to build my bankroll.’ The story isn’t sexy. People won’t care about them, because they are not interesting.”
According to Negreanu, the problem was further highlighted by the 2011 WSOP which was less fun to play in, let alone to watch on TV, consequently doing little to attract new audiences to the game. Explaining that fun TV coverage was crucial to growing the industry, the 37 year-old, Negreanu hailed Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari as good TV, while players such as Mike Matusow, Tony G and Phil Hellmuth may be jerks, but were at least memorable ones.
Apparently, a big part of the problem lies in the antisocial nature of the online world, where old-school etiquette is sacrificed in favour of cut-throat competition. This doesn’t translate well to TV audiences, and as Negreanu concludes:
“Take Justin Bonomo. He was on our show, and he played well but he said nothing and I doubt anyone is going to remember him. A lot of these young guys don’t realise you need to make an impression if you want to get invited back.”