Over the last 20 years, Canadian Daniel Negreanu has taken the poker world by storm, being the youngest person at the time to win a WSOP event and accrue over $30,000,000 in prize money, leading the money list of all time earners by $6,000,000. He is the first player to make a final table at all of the three WSOP bracelet award locations and the first to win one at each. To say he has had a successful career would be an understatement. Daniel Negreanu is the epitome of poker success.
Luckynuggetcasino.com has decided to take a look at the glistening career of this poker genius from his turbulent childhood to his reign as poker champion.
Born Into Humble Beginnings
Annie and Constantin, two Romanian, immigrants ventured out to Canada for a better place to raise their son, Mike Negreanu. The family had hoped to settle in the USA but ended up settling in Toronto. Daniel, who was 5 years younger than Mike, was thrust into the world in 1974. The ambition of his parents to make a better life of themselves flowed through to Negreanu, who, at the age of 4, already had dreams beyond playing with toys and eating sweets. The young child constantly wished he was rich and promised his Mom to build her a house out of popsicle sticks.
Childhood: Turbulent School Life
Negreanu’s apparent lack of interest towards schooling cropped up at an early age when he was nearly expelled from Pineway Middle School in North York for ‘bad manners’ and ‘ignoring the rules.’ This set the precedent for the young man, who, by 16, was failing high school by a single credit and lacked interest in ever graduating. Instead of completing his studies like most normal young men would be pushed to do, he dropped out of high school altogether and stated a new life as a rounder, playing the local charity casino circuit.
Teenage Life: Becoming A Rounder
It could have been that his studies faltered through lack of interest, but it also might have been possible that his grades fell for other reasons. During his latter years at high school Negreanu, who dreamt of taking up a career as a professional snooker player, nursed his lack of ability by switching to another green felt – the poker table. At the age of 15 Negreanu was learning poker and by 16 he was hustling, sports betting and playing cards at his local pool hall.
From this point onwards Negreanu, with the determination he showed through his childhood, built up a considerable stake of money playing in illegal games around the city with one aim to play cards in Las Vegas. During this time Negreanu started to date Evelyn Ng, now a successful poker player in her own right. After spending a few years playing the circuit he built up a bankroll worthy of a venture to Las Vegas and set off to fulfil his dreams of being a professional poker player. Unfortunately, the professional poker circuit got the better of Negreanu and he went back to Toronto with absolutely nothing.
It may have been that the inexperienced Negreanu was outclassed by the likes of the season pros or the glitzy casinos were all too different from the sullen charity casinos in Toronto, engulfing the ambitious poker player. Whatever it was that pushed the young Canadian back, it didn’t stop him. Negreanu returned again and again and was pushed back repeatedly, continuing the cycle of winning in Toronto and losing in Las Vegas. It was in the mid 90s when things eventually came together for Negreanu. Las Vegas had finally relented.
1997 – 2000: Finally Cracking Poker
In 1997, Negreanu had finally cracked the Vegas poker and was named the best all round player at Foxwoods’ World Poker Final at the age of 21. Negreanu took first place in the $100 limit competition on the Sunday, but this would be small change compared to his true breakthrough win on the Tuesday. After a relatively successful weekend, Negreanu took home $38,400 in the $1500 limit hold’em competition on a final table full of Americans. The Canadian trumped the likes of T. J Cloutier, Texas’ all time number one and WSOP winner John Hennigan ‘World’ to take 1st place.
In 1998, riding off the success at Foxwoods, Negreanu entered his very first WSOP event at Atlantic city, which was a $2,000 pot limit Texas hold’em tournament. This would be his first substantial win, earning him $169,460. This tournament win earned Negreanu his first WSOP bracelet and at this point, was the youngest man at the time to do so. From there Negreanu had various wins on the circuit and four years later, due to his success, earned the nickname Kid Poker.
2000 – 2006: Establishing Himself
His success continued and in 2003 added another WSOP belt to his collection. He won this belt playing S.H.O.E, which is a combination of various card games – Seven Card Stud, Hold’em, Omaha Eights or Better and Stud Eights of Better. Winning this competition earned the Canadian $100,440, adding to the wealth he accumulated in the previous 5 years. Ultimately, this was merely an indicator that Negreanu had finally cracked poker.
2004 – 2005 was potentially the highlight of Negreanu’s poker career. Over the course of the year the now established poker pro made 11 tables with two World Poker Tour wins in Bellagio Borgata and also took home his third WSOP bracelet in Limit Hold’em. The days of struggling to make it in Las Vegas were now a feint memory as his year earnings amounted to a breathtaking $4,465,000. At this point in time, Negreanu has taken home more money from tournament poker than any other player in the world. His success in 2004 meant he was rewarded with the WSOP player of the year, Card Player Magazine player of the year and WPT player of the year. Accolades that were once a dream for the young Canadian man. Negreanu married in 2005 to Lori Lin Weber in a marriage that was to last just two years.
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During 2005 Negreanu attempted to find a protégé to mould into the perfect poker player. His first was Brian Fidler who came to little success. His second attempt was Anthony Mak who, like Brian, came to little success. Mak has managed to cash in four tournaments, earning $40,000 in live earnings over his career.
Moving through to 2006, Negreanu began the year with a win at the WSOP Circuit Even in Tunica which earned him $755,000. He also finished 5th in a national heads-up championship and 2nd at the Tournament of Champions, taking home $325,000. To finish off the year Negreanu cashed in at 5 WSOP tournaments and ended the year on a high-note, making $600,000 in the WPT Diamond World Classic with a 3rd place finish.
2007 – 2015: Maintaining Greatness
2007 was set to be another successful year for Negreanu after cashing in the WPT Caribbean Adventure and maintained his run with a 2nd place finish at the WPT World Poker Open, cashing an impressive $500,000. The money at this point was becoming all too regular for the poker maestro, who at this point was ranked with some of the biggest names of poker including Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth Jr. Negreanu released his first book during this year called Hold’em Wisdom For All Players.
In 2008, Negreanu took home $204,874 and another WSOP bracelet at the Las Vegas $2,000 Limit Hold’em. Negreanu managed to win the tournament with a 9 spades and 5 hearts, which was a strange final hand to win a tournament on. Some wondered whether the legend would finally tail off, but Negreanu had no intention of taking the foot off the peddle. In 2009, Negreanu finished 2nd in the WSOP London £10,000 No Limit Hold’em, narrowly missing on a fifth WSOP bracelet. In 2013 he finally picked up his fifth WSOP bracelet at the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em main even in the WSOP Poker Asia Pacific, winning just over $1 million.
In 2014, whilst playing the Big One for One Drop with a prize pool of $37,333,338 and a buy-in of $1 million, Negreanu finished second and took home the biggest win of his career by winning $8,288.001. It was Daniel Coleman who took home the main prize of $15,306,668.
2015 has been a quieter year for Negreanu, which has resulted in the pro dropping off the Global Poker Index’s [GPI] number one spot. Whilst he might not be at the top of his game, GPI have declared him the number one player of the decade and that, we believe, is an accolade Negreanu should be proud of. Negreanu is still a force to be reckoned with and for that reason we think he still remains one of the best players this world has ever seen.
Negreanu: Not Just A Poker Player
Negreanu is not just a poker player, he is a self proclaimed action junkie man who enjoys living life to the maximum. The adrenaline alone was enough reason for him to play poker, but he also finds enjoyment in golf, gambling and even played video poker online and at casinos.
Golf was a real indicator of Negreanu’s philanthropy, and through the love of this sport he created the ‘Big Swing’ charity golf event. Pro golfers are paired with celebrities who donate $3,000 to the Lili Claire Foundation. He’s also been known to donate poker tables, decks of cards and poker chips to charity poker matches in 2004.
From Poker Player To Big Screen Actor
Moving away from sports, Negreanu has appeared in various movies as a cameo actor with the most famous appearance being in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. With X-Men: Apocalypse heading to he big screen soon, we wonder if Negreanu will get another cameo.
Negreanu has had a stint of appearances in various TV Shows and movies over the years. He’s reprised his role as a poker player in the film The Grand, and as himself in Lucky You. He’s also appeared in Katy Perry’s music video ‘Waking Up In Vegas’ as, unsurprisingly, a poker player.
The poker player is also a huge fan of Heroes of Warcraft, which he often shows on his Twitch channel. Negreanu was invited to a Heroes of Warcraft competition at BlizzCon 2015 and faced up against former StarCraft: Blood War pro and WSOP champion Bertrand Grospellier. Just like most of his life, he won, 3-1 in a conclusive victory in front of a roaring crowd.
That’s pretty much everything you need to know about Daniel Negreanu. Who’s your favourite poker player? More of a Phil Ivey fan? Let us know in the comments section below and Canada’s number one casino will do their best to get back to you.