Epic Fail (Part II of II)

On Monday I talked about the newly formed “Epic Poker League” and how David “Chino” Rheem winning their first main event proved to be less than “epic” for the organisers.

I may have not painted the Epic brand in the best light. Creating their own “Global Poker Index” (it’s just a league table for poker pros) and choosing the name “Epic” isn’t really my cup of tea. But don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying the League can’t be a success.

Now Daniel Negreanu on the other hand………

The shy, retiring Daniel Negreanu, always reticent to voice an opinion on things, hehe.

He has decided to boycott the Epic poker league despite the fact he could get a 5 year pass on the basis of his $13 million in lifetime winnings.  And he has absolutely slated the League.

First he had a dig at the “Epic” name, which I approve of, but he goes much further. He reckons the League cannot possibly succeed on a commercial level. He says of his decision not to participate:  I have a laundry list of reasons”

Some of them reasons are pretty flaky, such as I don’t believe this product will resonate with the public”

and he doesn’t always justify his explanations either:

“I don’t think this league can succeed. Of course I could be wrong… but I’m not”

However, some of his arguments are solid:

I don’t think it’s possible to bring in enough revenue to survive. The WSOP is the world’s most prestigious brand at this point with hundreds of hours of poker programming on TV, and yet they have been unsuccessful in bringing in major money from mainstream sponsors. We have Jack Links and Dearfoam slippers.  The Epic Poker League has 7 hours on CBS and 13 hours on a network that is yet to launch. That pales in comparison to the hundreds of hours of coverage on ESPN. Does anyone really believe that (they) will be able to pull in enough money from sponsorship to sustain the amount of money going out the door?”

The “money going out the door” he refers to is the $400k added to the prize pools of main events (events are rake free as well). My favourite freebies, though, are the free premium rooms at the Palms, and the $100 food/beverage voucher each day for each player. (Could the free $100 food voucher tempt Howard Lederer out of hiding perhaps?)

He has a good point. The Epic League does look as it will struggle to make ends meet unless it pulls in a big sponsor. But even if he doesn’t think they will make enough revenue to survive – why does he care?  It’s not his money is it? Plus he might even go and win one of the things. So why the disdain?

Well according to Negreanu:

“I’m always careful about what I attach my name and likeness to, and after doing my due diligence on the “business plan” I don’t think this league can succeed”

So is it that he doesn’t want to be associated with organisations that aren’t a success? Or is it just bad publicity in general that he wants to avoid?

Well let’s take a reality check. Daniel Negreanu is the highest profile sponsored professional for Poker Stars, one of the poker sites indicted by the US Department of Justice in April this year.

Under the article someone left the following comment:

“I guess being a spokesperson for an illegal operation being sued by the US justice department for billions of dollars for bank fraud constitutes the types of things you feel most comfortable putting your name and likeness to. Maybe the millions they pay you might be effecting your moral compass a bit?”

Well it’s a fair point isn’t it?

But I’ve got a better theory as to why he has panned the League. Nowhere in his laundry list of reasons does the name “ Annie Duke” feature. Annie Duke, if you remember, is one of the Epic Poker League’s organisers – the “Commissioner” no less – and these two absolutely detest each other like cat and dog.  And I don’t mean like normal cats and dogs, I mean like a cat who had pulled off a hit on the dog’s family and done an aggravated burglary on its kennel. Thinking he was off the record in an interview last year Negreanu famously called her an “effing C” which I’m pretty sure doesn’t go down too well with most American women.

Epic Poker League Commissioner - Annie Duke (picture taken circa 1990)

Yet he doesn’t mention her once. Funny that.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if he was spurning all that $400k added value – not to the mention his $100 a day food comp – just over his hatred of Annie Duke?

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