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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Daniel Negreanu

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

In today’s day and age in the poker world it seems like every teenager with a laptop is winning a million dollars a day.  With all the advantages modern players are given, it’s expected for them to have an accelerated learning curve.  Books, programs, internet forums/chat rooms, and television programs have all made it possible for anyone who wants to learn the game to do so.  Just a decade ago, these things weren’t readily available, so when a young kid came along and began to tear up the professional poker scene, it was a big deal.  Up until this modern age of poker began the overall vast majority of successful poker players were middle-aged and up, and had spent half a life time mastering a game that college students are now mastering in about 1/50th the time. 

Daniel Negreanu is one of the rare players who both had a very good mind for the game of poker at an early age, and just a few years into his poker career began to have the same advantages the older players didn’t, making him one of the best all around poker players in the world today.

In 1967, seven years before Daniel was born, his parents fled communist Romania in hopes of a better life.  His father, Constantin, was a “jack of all trades” man in his home country, and was hoping he would be able to find work in America in some capacity.  After some searching in the USA, Constantin and his wife Annie ventured north, settling in Toronto when Constantin was able to find work as an electrician.  On July 26, 1974 Daniel Negreanu was born, the second son of the family.

As a teenager Negreanu had a fondness of poker, but his real love at the time was snooker, a game resembling pool.  When Negreanu learned that there wasn’t much money in the world of snooker, he turned his focus to pool.  By age 15 Negreanu was spending the majority of his time in pool halls.  When he wasn’t playing pool, he would sit in on the poker game in the back room, having modest success, and keeping that in the back of his mind as a possibly money making venture if pool didn’t go his way.  At this time Negreanu was a self admitted “action junkie,” betting on anything anyone would bet him on.  He also liked to bet on sports.  However, over time Negreanu realized he was making more money sitting in on the poker game than he thought he ever would as a pool hustler.  Also, despite just really learning the game, he felt he had an uncanny ability to read people at the poker table, and this was one of the main reasons he decided to focus his attention on poker.

School was always sort of a hindrance to Negreanu, getting in the way of the things he really wanted to be doing.  When he went to school, he did well, but the trick was getting him there.  Just a few credits short of graduating high school Negreanu dropped out in favor of playing poker with a fake ID in local casinos and playing home games.  The prospect of making a lot of money was much more appealing than studying.  All his studying would be done at the poker table from now on.

When Negreanu turned 21 he left the poker version of the minor leagues to head to Las Vegas, to test his skills against the sharks of the game.  His modest bankroll didn’t last long in Vegas, forcing Negreanu to return back to Toronto to build another bankroll.  He took about a year to do this, and his next trip to Sin City would be a much more successful one.

In 1997, “Kid Poker” made his arrival on the tournament poker scene.  That summer Negreanu won just the second tournament he ever placed in, a $200 Limit Hold’em event in Los Angeles for $18,000.  This boost to his bankroll allowed him to travel across the country to Foxwoods casino in Connecticut that winter.  There he won two tournaments, including the $1,500 Limit Hold’em 1997 World Poker Finals for just over $38,000.  That winter alone Negreanu won $55,000 dollars in tournaments, but the World Poker Final victory really put him in the spotlight.

Before that success, it was questionable if Negreanu would be able to play in the World Series of Poker that year.  But his winter on the East Coast was just a sign of the things to come that spring in the desert.  At just 23 years old, Negreanu won the first ever WSOP event he cashed in.  The victory in the $2,000 Hold’em Pot Limit event earned him $169,460 dollars, and the bankroll to play in any tournament he wanted.
Negreanu’s success in the WSOP has continued to this day.  He is the winner of four WSOP bracelets, including most recently winning the $2,000 Limit Hold’em event this past year for over $200,000.  Negreanu has also found success on the World Poker Tour, where he has won two titles and made seven final tables and he recently won the British Columbia Poker Championship.

Negreanu is also one of the best cash game players in the world.  He plays in Bobby’s Room in the Bellagio, which famously houses the biggest cash games in the world.  When the Wynn opened Negreanu was named “Poker Ambassador” of the casino, where he played in many of the tournaments there and playing “regulars” in cash games.  Because of this exclusive deal Negreanu was unable to play in other cash games around the city, so in 2005 they amicably announced their split.  

Negreanu is one of the most popular poker players not only because of his skills, but because of his easy going personality.  Because of his personality he has been able to branch out in a variety of ways.  For example, it seems that Negreanu appears on every poker related television show out there, which of course is largely attributed to his personality.
Over the last few years Negreanu has appeared on High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, and Ultimate Poker Challenge, just to name a few.  Negreanu authored “Power Hold’em Strategy” which has been compared to Doyle Brunson’s Super System, in that it has a ton of contributions from other poker players.  Negreanu is also a regular contributor to CardPlayer Magazine.  The truth is, Negreanu’s life away from the poker table could fill an article all on itself.

Negreanu differs from other poker players because he is very open about his poker game and why he makes the decisions he does.  Most players prefer to keep this kind of information about themselves out of the public eye.  Negreanu hosts a poker forum/blog called Full Contact Poker, where he is an active member, giving advice to nearly anyone who asks him.  Negreanu is also one of the poker pros at PokerStars where he doesn’t mind conversing with the railbirds while playing in the biggest online tournaments at the same time.  As a bit of a superstition, online poker players have been known to send “KidPoker” one cent as they believe it will send them good luck.  Negreanu has said that he has received hundreds of dollars from this over the last few years.  Also, for a fee costing way more than a penny, you can get tutored by the best players in the game.  One of Negreanu’s most famous pupils is actor Tobey McGuire.

Negreanu truly is a poker ambassador.  By all accounts he always acts like a gentleman at the table, even if he gets sucked out on.  He is always quick to take the time to say hello to his fans both online and live at a table.  All of his successes can’t possibly be chronicled here, but I’m sure before too long one of his projects will be an autobiography.

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