Negreanu Says He’s Not in a Cult

Negreanu Says He’s Not in a Cult

Full Contact PokerAbout a month ago, during an extended trip to Las Vegas, I learned that several clients of Poker Royalty, including Daniel Negreanu, had attended large-group awareness training (LGAT) with an organization called Choice Center Las Vegas. I didn’t think much of it at the time, other than as an explanation for certain changes in Negreanu’s outward behavior on various social media channels.

Last week, however, Negreanu mentioned Choice Center in a podcast with Wicked Chops Poker. That mention led poker player, Vegas resident and shit-stirrer extraordinaire Bryan Micon to do a little digging.

Micon stopped short of calling Choice Center a cult, but described LGATs like Choice Center “a very common scam-cult-semi-religion formula”. He noted that Antonio Esfandiari had also completed classes at Choice Center, and that Negreanu skipped the NBC Heads-Up tournament to attend Choice Center. It later came out that the Binger brothers, Gavin Smith and several other poker players were also Choice Center students.

Predictably, Micon’s post created a stir amongst the poker community. Many forum posters expressed anything from skepticism to downright incredulity that Choice Center could have any positive impact on Negreanu or the other professionals. Many labeled it a cult no better than Scientology.

Even fellow Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst spoke out against Choice Center. In a tweet that she later deleted, Selbst wrote, “Very good blog post by @BryanMicon about this new cult fad spreading around poker”. She later clarified that she hadn’t intended to disrespect Negreanu but felt that Micon’s post was worth reading.

Facing this groundswell of criticism, Negreanu opened a thread on Full Contact Poker to talk about Choice Center and his experiences there.

“First of all, I am not in a cult,” wrote Negreanu. He said that his agent recommended it to him and that he had only paid $2700 to attend Choice Center seminars – not the six-figure or seven-figure sums that some people claimed.

“It’s not for ‘everybody’ I guess, but from my experience it was a powerful experience for the vast majority, including me.” Negreanu certainly has expressed his share of skepticism regarding pseudo-science in the past. He was recently featured on an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker, where producers had him visit an astrologer. Negreanu could barely contain his disdain.

Fellow poker pro Nick Binger was in the same seminar as Negreanu. He described Choice Center as an LGAT that focuses on personal development. He wrote that “during the leadership portion you were encouraged to refer the friends you felt would benefit. I really disliked that aspect of it, but it is a business and that model works.”

Like many things in the poker industry, this seems like the proverbial tempest in a teacup, likely to blow over once the next unusual facet of some poker pro’s life bubbles to the surface.

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