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Daniel Negreanu: From Prodigy to Poker Legend

Shane C

Nov 11, 2022

Daniel Negreanu

Even if you are relatively new to the world of poker, there are some stand-out names that you are likely familiar with. Daniel Negreanu is one of the most famous and well-respected players in the game today.

On top of being a great player, he is also known for his outgoing personality and charm, which has helped him become one of the most popular figures in poker. Known by the nickname ‘Kid Poker,’ Daniel Negreanu has had a long and successful career.

We will look at Daniel Negreanu's life story, from his early days as a prodigy to his current status as a poker legend.

Early Life and Upbringing

Daniel Negreanu was born in Toronto, Canada, on July 26th, 1974. His parents, Annie and Constantin, were Romanian immigrants who had arrived in Canada just a few years before Daniel was born ( Daniel is a fluent Romanian speaker).

Negreanu has spoken fondly of his upbringing. He credits his mother for instilling a hard work ethic in him and his brother ( Mike, who is five years older). Even at the young age of 4, Daniel entertained the idea that he would be rich one day, informing his Mom that they would move to California, where he would build a house made of popsicles!

As a youngster, he attended Pineway Public School in North York; though he excelled in math and probability, he ended up dropping out. At 15, his first love was snooker, and he initially nursed the dream of becoming a professional snooker player.

However, poker quickly became his new passion. He began playing in local Toronto card rooms, where he learned the ropes of the game. At this time, he also met Evelyn Ng, who he also dated, and she would also become a professional poker player.

The Early Years of His Career

At 21, after building up enough of a bankroll to fund his dreams of becoming a professional poker player, Daniel made the leap and moved to Las Vegas.

Despite some early success, it wasn’t all plain sailing; in an interview with Lewis Howes, host of The School of Greatness podcast, he recounted some of the struggles he encountered. He recounted that he had five or six unsuccessful trips to the strip, where he lost money and had to return to Toronto to rebuild his bankroll.

At this time, he was playing 8 hours a day, Monday to Friday, honing his skills and keeping meticulous records of his games, wins, and earnings. However, rather than analytical skills, he credits people skills as being his main weapon at the poker table.

Becoming One of the Best Poker Players in the World

Daniel NegreanuIn 1998, Negreanu finally had his big breakthrough. He won his first bracelet at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), including his first win in the $2,000 pot-limit hold’em event netting him $169,460. This was a huge confidence boost and gave him the recognition he deserved as a force to be reckoned with in the world of poker.

In addition, at 23 years old, he became the youngest player ever to win a bracelet at the WSOP (hence the nickname Kid Poker), holding the record until 2004.

Not only that, he is the first player in the history of the World Series of Poker to reach the final table at each of the three locales that award bracelets - Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Las Vegas.

After this breakthrough year, Negreanu’s career sky-rocketed. He became one of the most successful and well-known players in poker. To date, he has won six World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour titles and has been inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

In 2004, Daniel achieved what is widely considered the best year of his poker career. He achieved Eleven final tables and won two World Poker Tour events. He was named Player of the Year by the World Series of Poker and Card Player Magazine. Plus, he ended the year with a total of $4,465,907 in prizes.

Throughout his career, it is estimated that Daniel Negreanu has amassed prize winnings of more than $42,000,000. His winnings at the World Series of Poker account for $14,000,000.

Between June 2007 and May 2019, he was a member of Team PokerStars, serving as both a player and ambassador for the world’s largest poker site. In the same year he quit PokerStars, he joined GGPoker, where he has remained a brand ambassador.

World Series of Poker Bracelets

The World Series of Poker is the most prestigious event in the poker world. While the prize money is certainly a big draw, players also strive to win the coveted bracelet as a measure of their success. In fact, many professional players consider winning a WSOP bracelet to be the pinnacle of their career. 

  • 1998 - $2,000 Pot Limit Hold'em with a prize of $169,460

  • 2003 -  $2,000 S.H.O.E. with a prize of $100,440

  • 2004 - $2,000 Limit Hold'em with a prize of $169,100

  • 2008 - $2,000 Limit Hold'em with a prize of $204,874

  • 2013 - World Series of Poker Asia Pacific $10,000 No Limit Hold'em with a prize of $1,038,825 (Australian Dollars)

  • 2013 - World Series of Poker Europe €25,600 High Roller No Limit Hold'em with a prize of €725,000

World Poker Tour Titles

The World Poker Tour is a televised poker tournament series that is broadcast in over 150 countries due to its huge popularity.

  • 2004 - $10,000 Borgata Poker Open with a prize of $1,009,100

  • 2004 - $15,000 Five Diamond World Poker Classic with a prize of $1,795,218

Other Notable Achievements

Daniel Negreanu has competed and banked winnings in hundreds of poker tournaments and won numerous awards in his long career, and these are a few of the highlights:

  • 1997  - Best all-around player award at Foxwoods Resorts Casino

  • 1999 - United States Poker Championship $7,500 Texas Hold’em with a prize of $210,000

  • 2005 - 6th Annual Jack Binion World Poker Open – No-Limit Hold’em Championship (3rd place) with winnings of $384,322

  • 2008 - British Columbia Poker Championships C$ 2,500 + 200 No Limit Hold'em with winnings of C$371,910

  • 2009 - World Series of Poker Europe Main Event (2nd place) with winnings of $783,061

  • 2013 - Spring Championship of Online Poker $5,200 PL Omaha with a prize of $216,000

  • 2014 - Inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. The same year he was also named the best poker player of the decade by the Global Poker Index.

  • 2016 - World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) $2,100 HORSE Championship with a prize of $61,865.47

  • 2021 - Poker Masters 5 $10,000 No Limit Hold'em with a prize of $178,200

  • 2021 - PokerGO Cup 7, Las Vegas $50,000 No Limit Hold'em with winnings of $700,000

  • 2022 - $15,300 No Limit Hold'em Wynn High Rollers with winnings of $216,000

Additional Poker Activities

As well as being highly prolific at poker tournaments worldwide, Daniel Negreanu is also an active member of the poker community. He certainly can't be accused of being a poker recluse, being one of the most popular and engaging personalities in the poker world.

Full Contact Poker Site 

In 2005, Daniel Negreanu launched his own poker site, Full Contact Poker. The site was a blog-style forum where players could share their ideas and strategies on the game. It soon became one of the most popular online poker sites, with a large and engaged community of posters.

The site also hosted a podcast in which Daniel interviewed other poker professionals and shared tips and tips on how to excel at the game. While the forum is still pretty active, the rest of the site hasn't remained updated, though there's plenty of informative content to read through.

Books and Online Video Training

If you are serious about your poker and are a fan of Daniel Negreanu, then you should check out his MasterClass. In it, Daniel teaches everything from beginner to advanced concepts and strategies. Daniel walks students through all the essential skills of poker, from betting strategies to reading your opponents. He also covers important topics like managing your bankroll and staying calm under pressure.

In total, there are 38 video lessons with over 7 hours of solid content providing valuable insights into the mind of a poker legend.

If reading is your preferred method of learning, then Daniel has also written three books on the subject of poker, in addition to contributing to Doyle Brunson's Super System 2.

Daniel Negreanu on Social Media

As one of the world's most well-known and respected poker players, Daniel Negreanu has a lot to say about the game. And thanks to social media, he can share his thoughts with fans and followers from all over the globe. With over 500k Twitter followers and even more on his YouTube channel, he frequently posts about his personal life, his poker career, and his views on the world of online poker.

Movie and TV Appearances

Daniel has appeared on numerous poker-related television shows, including Late Night Poker, Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, and Ultimate Poker Challenge, among others. In addition, he helped reality TV personality Rob Mariano in his pursuit of becoming a professional poker player by acting as a mentor.

If you are a Marvel fan, you may have seen him make a cameo appearance in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He didn't need to act too much as the role involved playing poker against Gambit, a superhero who has the ability to turn a pack of cards into a deadly weapon!

Daniel Negreanu also appeared in The Grand, a 2007 comedy film directed by Zak Penn. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano, and Chris Parnell. The plot centers on a group of professional poker players who are invited to compete in a high-stakes tournament; it doesn't take much effort to guess what role Daniel Negreanu played. The film was shot entirely in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and the cast improvised the majority of the dialogue.

In 2008, he appeared in the music video for Katy Perry's hit song "Waking Up in Vegas." He also had a small role in the movie Lucky You, starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore playing himself. In addition to his acting roles, Negreanu has also been a guest on several popular TV shows, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Heads-Up Challenges

In July 2020, Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk decided to settle their differences with a heads-up challenge. The two had been engaged in a public feud for some time, and the challenge was finally seen as a way to settle the score. The match consisted of 25,000 hands of No Limit Texas Hold'em; Doug Polk emerged victorious, winning $1.2M.

It didn't end there, though, in 2021, after Phil Helmuth, the all-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, criticised Daniel's playing style in his match against Polk.

Helmuth and Negreanu went head to head during PokerGo's High Stakes Duel II. Once again, lady luck wasn't in Negreanu's favour, and Helmuth came away with winnings of $350,000.

Personal Life

Daniel NegreanuDaniel Negreanu now lives full-time in Vegas after becoming a US citizen in March 2016. He posted on his Twitter feed that he felt it needed to be done so he could vote and do his part in keeping Donald Trump out of office!

Negreanu has been married twice, first to Lori Lin Weber in 2005 and then to Amanda Leatherman in 2019.

Being Canadian, it can't be helped that Daniel Negreanu is a huge ice hockey fan; back home in Toronto, his home team was the Maple Leafs. But now he's settled in Sin City; it's the Vegas Golden Knights all the way! He can often be found at the T-Mobile Arena cheering on his new team.

He's also a massive fan of Hearthstone and is not afraid to show it. In fact, Daniel is so passionate about the game that he's even streamed himself playing it on Twitch. Hearthstone, just like poker, is a card game, the big difference being that Hearthstone is a digital fantasy card game while poker is… well, poker. Nevertheless, Daniel has managed to find success in both games, and his passion for Hearthstone is evident in his streams.

He is also a noted philanthropist, donating his time and money to a variety of charities. Animal welfare organisations are especially close to his heart as a vegan himself since 2006. Negreanu says that he never specifically forces veganism on anyone, but he does advise aspiring poker professionals to eat healthily.

He said that before he went vegan - "I ate the typical meat-heavy diet of most poker players in the '90s: burgers and steak, along with French fries, mash, and a bucket-load of wine, beer, and vodka. There was nothing fresh in my diet, and I felt terrible."

Combined with his healthy diet, playing golf regularly has helped Daniel Negreanu stay in good physical shape.

Daniel Negreanu's Tips for Rookie Poker Players

Daniel has written three best-selling poker books, Hold'em Wisdom for All Players, Power Hold'em Strategy, and More Hold'em Wisdom for All Players. These books are essential for budding poker players looking to improve their game.

If you want to be the best poker player you can be, take some tips from one of the all-time greats – Daniel Negreanu.

In Hold'em Wisdom for All Players, he lists ten rookie mistakes that people make when playing poker:

  1. Bluffing too much - Many players think that poker is all about bluffing, but that's not the case. Bluffing can be a useful tool, but you need to use it sparingly. People will catch on if you're always bluffing, and you'll start losing money.

  2. Lack of patience - Negreanu says that one of the essential things in poker is patience. A professional poker player will bide their time and wait for quality hands rather than trying to make something happen with a mediocre hand.

  3. Playing Unaffordable Limits - if you're playing at a limit that's too high for your bankroll, you're putting yourself at risk of going broke. Finding a balance between playing for fun and playing for profit is crucial. Set yourself a realistic budget and stick to it.

  4. Drinking alcohol while playing - There's a good reason why casinos offer free booze to poker players, and that's because alcohol impairs your judgment putting the odds more in the casino's favour. If you're serious about winning, save the drinking for after the game.

  5. Quitting while you're ahead - While many preach, quit while you're ahead, Negreanu says this is a mistake. When winning, you should take advantage of your powerful presence at the table rather than calling it a day and leaving.

  6. Playing in challenging games - When you're starting out, it's important to find games where you have a good chance of winning. There's no shame in playing against weaker opponents until you build up your skills and confidence. Going up against the big boys too early is a recipe for disaster.

  7. Elevated ego - One of the reasons that Daniel has been so successful is that he has always remained humble. He knows that poker is a game of luck as well as skill, and he doesn't let his ego get in the way of his play. If you want to be a winner, you need to have the same attitude. You should always be learning and looking to improve your game.

  8. Playing too many hands - In poker, less is often more. If you're playing too many hands, you'll likely get involved in pots that you can't win. Be selective with your hands and only play when you have a good chance of winning.

  9. Playing on tilt - Have you encountered the term 'tilt' before? It's a poker term that refers to when a player starts making irrational decisions because they're angry or upset. This is a surefire way to lose money, so keeping your emotions in check is essential.

  10. Playing too many hours - Negreanu's final rookie mistake is one that many people make – playing for too long. If you're sitting at the table for hours on end, you will get tired, and your play will suffer as a result. It's important to take breaks and give yourself time to rest.

Learning from the greats like Danial Negreanu is a surefire way to improve your poker game. Read books, watch videos and study the poker pros to give yourself the best chance of success.

Final Thoughts

Daniel Negreanu is a hugely influential figure in the world of poker, with a career that spans over two decades. He's widely considered one of the best players in the world, and he has the trophies and prize money to back it up. While we can't all aspire to be at Negreanu's level, we can all learn from his story and be inspired by his journey to the top.

Let's end with some quotes from Kid Poker himself:

"To be a great poker player, you're going to have to learn this fact: Everything that's said at a poker table is worth listening to. It's all information that you can use to make better decisions, whether people are talking about baseball, politics, or, oh yeah, poker."

"In No-Limit Hold'em, much like video games and karate lessons, you need to master one level before you can move on to the next."

"Soft playing destroys the integrity of the game of poker, and it's wrong - flat out wrong."

"If you want to make money playing poker, find a game with a few suckers, fish, donkeys, live ones, or whatever you choose to call a bad player. Just don't let that sucker be you."

We hope you enjoyed reading about Daniel Negreanu's life story. Stay tuned for more inspirational stories from some of poker's biggest names at Natural8.

All images are sourced from PokerNews.