*****Daniel Negreanu has some choice words for Tom Dwan*****

Top-ranked poker pro Daniel Negreanu is at it again.  The Canadian player has never been known to not speak his mind when it comes to other players behaving badly (having previously referred to Full Tilt pros Howard Lederer and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson as “absolute, flat-out scumbags”); but now it’s legendary online pro Tom “durrrr” Dwan who is the subject of the vegan poker player’s wrath. In an interview with PokerPlayer magazine, Negreanu dissed his fellow Rational Group (PokerStars’ and Full Tilt’s joint parent company) paid shill.

Late for a Very Important Date

Seems while shooting footage for a “grudge match” between Dwan (who represents Full Tilt, which is technically owned by PokerStars, but run as a separate entity) and Negreanu (who represents PokerStars), that  Dwan showed up four hours late, ticking off the Canadian with his New Jersey boorish ways. (We have always secretly believed Dwan is really Spock’s love child from “Star Trek,” but that’s another story altogether).

“If you’re a sponsored player and you get paid, then you had better do those things or you are disrespecting your organization and the game. If you are not prepared to do that, then don’t wear the patch,”said Negreanu in contempt of his competitor Dwan.

But Daniel didn’t stop with just smacking durrrr for his tardiness; he went on to actually dis his poker play.

“I don’t think Tom is one of the best [in the world] – I don’t know if he ever was,” Negreanu said in the heated interview. Tell us how you really feel, Daniel.

Real, or Staged Fight?

Naturally, in the pugilistic world of poker, it took about 2.5 seconds for people to take sides; after all, unlike the Lederer/Ferguson debacle, Dwan has only taken money out of players’ pockets that he won fair and square, typically in the cash games of which many consider him to be a master. Not helping his case was the fact that Negreanu has, in the past, praised Dwan to the skies, causing some speculation that a kind of “WWE”-type cartoon wrestling dis could be going on here.

Back in 2010, Negreanu wrote that he’d learned so much from a three-day No Limit Hold’em session with Dwan, Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey; can his opinion have changed so completely three years later? And the same year, the Canadian ranked the New Jerseyite as a “great player” and put him in a list of his top-ranked young poker pros. We’re hearing bells go off in the wrestling ring and seeing some body slams that might look a little forced.

This all begs the question, how much of poker at the pro level involves “entertainment,” and how much is pure gameplay, especially as the uber-competitive world of online poker slowly reemerges in America? And while many purists have raged for years for the latter (making the current ESPN coverage of World Series of Poker incredibly dull as a result), it’s a game played by larger-than-life characters, who, while real people, are also players in a larger universe that often does take on a rather cartoon-y quality.

For the very reason that, like Greek deities or WWE wrestlers, pro poker players represent so many human qualities: greed, passion, talent, poor choices, incredible good or bad luck, sloth and so on, they become archetypes we can all relate to in one way or another. Rational Group may be very smart to tap into the desire for feuds in the human spirit; or, Daniel Negreanu may just have changed his mind. You decide.