Daniel Negreanu Clarifies His Infamous Comment About More Rake Being “Actually Better”

 In October 2016 Daniel Negreanu appeared on a podcast with Rikard Aberg shortly after PokerStars, a room Negreanu has a sponsorship deal with decided to increase the rakes at their tables, and made the argument that this could actually be beneficial for the players. Now, the 42-year-old Canadian pro is walking back from his comment. 

On the podcast Negreanu made the point that high rake keeps good winning regulars away thus it is beneficial for the recreational players, neglecting the fact that it makes it harder for everyone to make a profit playing poker. Doug Polk responded in a video on YouTube debunking his argument. “WCGRider’ and “KidPoker” have recently got into another spat on Twitter about the issue. 

Negreanu at this point denies that he’s ever said higher rakes are actually good for poker, but stands by his opinion that they do make bad recreational players lose money at a lower rate. 

In a blogpost titled "My thoughts on RAKE!" he further elaborated on his views, writing:

“So for a while now there has been a misconception that I think raising the rake in poker games is 'good for poker.' I’ve never actually said that, but I understand where the confusion may come from because I was talking about some things (facts) that a lot of pros don’t want to hear, and like a game of broken telephone, my position has been distorted. I do not believe that raising the rake is good for poker. Rake increases take more money out of the game and benefit whoever is collecting the rake. That is my position on rake. Period. (Insert Sean Spicer jokes here)

Now, let’s take a deeper look at how an increased rake affects players. I’m going to discuss a real world example from my early days as a professional poker player in Toronto. The casino I played at charges a $5 session fee every 30 minutes in a $10-$20 limit hold’em game, while the game across the street charged $10 a hand! Excluding tips, in the game I played in, $100 came off the table every hour. In the game across the street, they were taking $300 out of the game per hour!

So obviously I chose to play in the game with the lower rake as did many other pros I know because we didn’t really think we would be able to beat the rake across the street. What ended up happening was the game I played in consisted of eight pros and two recreational players, while the game across the street had no pros in it at all. 

We used to have this recreational player named Bhupan come play with us and while we did what we could to ensure he had fun at the table, he was so bad at poker that he got absolutely destroyed when he played with us. In our game, he was constantly playing in heads up or three way pots, while the game across the street routinely saw eight players limping in to see the flop and chasing all the way to the river.

Bhupan also played across the street, and while he lost there too, he didn’t get humiliated and crushed nearly as hard as he did when he was facing a table full of regs. He paid a lot more in rake across the street, but also lost less money. His hourly loss rate was better in the game with the higher rake because the competition he faced was more on his level.

So if you are reading this, ask yourself the following question and be honest: given the choice of these two options, which is a better game to choose if you are Bhupan? Sitting with the sharks, or paying the extra rake and facing off against weaker opponents? Be honest."

Although we see the logic behind Negreanu's reasoning we have to point out that Negreanu esentially argues for poker pros to leave PokerStars and look for rooms with better rakes. In his analogy, PokerStars is the Toronto casino that charges $10 a hand where Negreanu doesn't play...