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For the second time in three months, Two Plus Two Publishing and forum founder Mason Malmuth made a guest appearance on the Poker Life Podcast hosted by Joey Ingram on Friday, December 11th.

The initial September 16, 2015 interview focused largely on Malmuth’s professional background with the US Census Bureau and the Norfolk Corporation, but like many before and after him, Malmuth caught the “poker bug” in the 1980s and his game theory work was first published by the Gambling Times Magazine in 1983.

Malmuth’s Views on Recent PokerStars Changes

The Decmeber 11th Poker Life Podcast episode dove immediately into the topic of recent PokerStars VIP Club changes, which have been at the forefront of news topics in the poker community since they were announced in November. The rewards program changes, which go into effect in January, significantly reduce rakeback-equivalent benefits for PokerStars’ highest volume players.

Malmuth clearly outlined some of the issues facing online poker within the first few minutes of Friday’s interview, pointing to low stakes games being too difficult for recreational players and the “No Limit” format of Texas Hold’em cash games exposing losing players to instant, hefty bankroll losses that make them think twice about redepositing.

The TwoPlusTwo Publishing founder called the rewards program changes implemented by the world’s largest poker site, PokerStars, “fine” — taking issue only with Stars’ parent company Amaya Gaming’s decision to pull the rug out from under legacy benefits that were originally marketed to its highest-volume players.

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Daniel Negreanu Responds to PokerStars Boycott

Ingram’s guest referenced the December 1-3, 2015 Player Boycott of PokerStars, stating that he wasn’t a fan in general of “strikes” because they often result in each side of a dispute getting locked in to rigid stances that are difficult to back down from.

Malmuth and Negreanu: 15 Years of Bad History

There is a history of ill-will between founder Mason Malmuth and poker’s all time tournament money leader Daniel Negreanu. Two and a half months ago, it took Poker Life Podcast host Joey Ingram 63 minutes to brooch the topic of Malmuth’s views on the headline Team PokerStars Pro. On December 11th, Negreanu was being discussed by the 6-minute mark of the 105-minute program.

The bad blood goes all the way back to the 1990s when both were involved in discussion on the old rec gambling poker forums. “I think it’s very unfortunate he [Negreanu] has become the big star of poker,” Malmuth told Poker Life Podcast viewers September 16th, “because of his [Negreanu’s] history of attacking people.”

In March 2012, “KidPoker” (who now posts on the TwoPlusTwo boards as DNegs) was temporarily banned from the forum for breaking the site’s policy on self promotion and posting of “charity” events. Negreanu subsequently posted a blog entry on his Full Contact Poker website which complained about the ban, calling it a “shakedown” while insinuating that TwoPlusTwo blocked his account in an effort to persuade the Canadian star and his iSeriesLIVE colleagues to pay for advertising space.

As an individual who has spent years of his life being responsible for high-traffic poker forum boards (as a Head Moderator/Forum Manager), I can personally attest to why forums are so wary of allowing any solicitation of money or mention of charity events. It’s because there is no way for a site or its representatives to verify the legitimacy of every single charity event, or prioritize one cause over another.

You can video Daniel Negreanu’s take on the situation here:

What Does Malmuth Think of Daniel Negreanu’s Response to PokerStars Changes?

At the 6-minute mark of the December 11th Poker Life Podcast, Malmuth brings up the featured Team PokerStars Pro, and proceeds to sympathize with the position of Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov.

Negreanu shot his big mouth off… he went outside the company and he announced that his resignation was in play,” Malmuth told Ingram.

For our readers who have not become aware of the TMZ-esque drama that went down on December 9th, Negreanu posted a blog entry on FullContactPoker outlining his updated thoughts on PokerStars’ policy changes. The article commends Baazov, defends the decision to decrease legacy benefits for high-volume players on PokerStars, admits there were shortcomings in the site’s communication with its highest-volume players, and explains the $30.5 million live poker tournament winner’s decision to remain in his role as a major spokesperson for the world’s largest poker site.

That statement obviously rubbed some of PokerStars’ high-volume players the wrong way, but it was an entirely separate event that the TwoPlusTwo owner was referring to in the quote mentioned above.

Over the weekend, a well known poker player posted an alleged private conversation that he had with Negreanu via Twitter. The screenshot (which was deleted shortly after being posted) appeared to show a Skype text conversation between the player in question and the 41-year old star, in which Negreanu plainly communicated that he would not continue representing PokerStars if the company did not honor its original rewards agreement with high-volume players.

I was offline when the content was posted on Twitter, and with no original link to provide there’s not much I can “report” on, but it is worth noting that subsequent critical responses in the Twitter conversation by several respected members of the poker industry did not dispute the validity of the screenshot, but rather brought into question the ethics behind making private conversations public.

Thus, the leader of the world’s largest poker forum expressed his opinion that Kid Poker’s comments (private or not) basically painted Amaya chief Baazov into a corner — forcing an eventual hard-line stance from PokerStars on a contentious issue that could have had a different result if the CEO had any luxury of maneuverability.

“Once [Negreanu states that his resignation is in play], he contributes to taking away flexibility from PokerStars management,” said Malmuth. “I think from David Baazov’s point of view, he would look at this and he would say, ‘Do I work for Daniel Negreanu or does Daniel Negreanu work for PokerStars?'”

Mason Malmuth Has a New Book

Real Poker Psychology has been officially released by Two Plus Two Publishing. Poker literature fans get obtain a physical copy of the book (MSRP: $24.99) for a discounted price via the TwoPlusTwo forums.

Author Mason Malmuth discussed his new book with Ingram, explaining that its content revolves much more around a common-sense approach to poker psychology rather than focusing on “new age” approaches to poker success.

The way Malmuth sees it, working on and studying “all things poker” is more effective in boosting a poker player’s confidence level than meditation, exercise, and positive thinking. The nuts and bolts approach to obtaining success in any given discipline is in-line with practical methods of thinking and contrarian to advice given by Dr. Patricia Cardner in her Positive Poker book she co-wrote with professional poker player Jonathan Little.

There isn’t any “love lost” between Malmuth and Cardner, and while the former has been highly critical of Cardner’s professional opinions regarding poker psychology (even going so far as to “correct” a total of 67 concepts from her book in his own publication) he hasn’t expressed any condescending views on Cardner as a person.

To paraphrase from the TwoPlusTwo manager’s words, you can be confident and still be a bad poker player, yet being a good poker player means you’re more likely to be confident anyway.

Poker Life Podcast Returns Tuesday, December 15th

Joey Ingram (aka “ChicagoJoey”) welcomes “King” Dan Smith to the Poker Life Podcast on Tuesday, December 15th. Smith is a poker pro with nearly $10 million in live tournament cashes who burst onto the live poker scene in 2012 with several major event victories. He is also a successful Daily Fantasy Sports player.

Ingram’s live show continues to grow in popularity, and has become an exclusive source of in-depth, poker current events discussion broadcast in an audio/visual format.

Poker Life Podcast (Mason Malmuth Guest) YouTube Ratings

Sept. 16, 2015: 4,138 Views — 48 Likes, 5 Dislikes

Dec. 11, 2015: 1,383 Views — 34 Likes, 1 Dislike

As always, thank you for reading and we welcome your input via our Comments section and latest poll. Give us your thoughts!

David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.