You wouldn’t be out of line if you suggested that Daniel Negreanu is the world’s best poker player. His 20-year career has netted him over $21 million in prizemoney and six World Series of Poker Bracelets.
But it hasn’t always been an easy ride for the Canadian.
Daniel Negreanu was born in Canada in 1974 to parents of Romanian descent. From a very early age, he was a hustler. By the time he was 16, he was hanging out at local pool halls and playing different cards games, learning the basics of poker along the way.
Negreanu was a strong student who excelled at maths and statistics. However, his love of poker ultimately won the battle for his attention, so he dropped out of school to start life as a professional player.
The early days for Negreanu were a struggle. He started playing well before the online poker boom, so was forced to play live at charity casinos and gambling halls in his local area. At the time he was still a teenager and playing against people twice his age.
Despite this, he worked hard and over time found some consistency. By the time he was 21, Negreanu was having some success against the locals in Canada, hustling his way to a decent bankroll. However, Vegas would prove to be a different story.
Daniel Negreanu: Vegas Calling
Finding an edge in the bright lights of Vegas, with a lot more competition, proved tough. In fact, it wasn’t long before Negreanu blew up his entire bankroll and had nothing left.
With his tail between his legs, he made the decision to pack up and move back to Canada to rebuild his bankroll – effectively starting his career again from scratch. This time he knew that he had to improve and take his game to the next level.
He might have only been a kid, but he knew that his game had leaks. Instead of devoting all his time to playing he started putting in hundreds of hours away from the table, studying and reading poker and betting books.
He would analyse the hands that he’d played after each session, examining the different probabilities. After rebuilding his bank and after putting in hundreds of hours to improve his game, he was ready to have a second crack at Vegas.
This time it worked.
Negreanu established himself as a regular in Vegas, and by 1997 was named all-round best player at Foxwoods’ World Poker Final.
Daniel Negreanu: World Series of Poker
In 1998 at the age of 23, Negreanu entered his first WSOP event.
The event was the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold ‘Em. Not only did he play well, he won the the tournament. At the time he was the youngest ever winner of a WSOP event.
The win earned him the nickname ‘Kid Poker’, and was the launching pad that got his career moving. From that point forward, Negreanu’s career took off like a rocket.
By 2003 he’d established himself as one of the world’s top players. Around this time, the internet poker boom started to take off and poker players were becoming household names. That year he won his second bracelet, winning a SHOE event that comprised of multiple styles of poker.
In 2004 Negreanu had arguably his best ever year. He won his third bracelet and made 11 World Poker Tour final tables. His winnings totaled over $5 million and he was named poker player of the year.
For the next decade, his career continued to thrive. He is now the face of PokerStars, the largest poker site on the planet. He has six WSOP bracelets to his name and his career earnings from poker alone sit at more than $20 million.
It’s been an incredible career for a kid that started out as a hustler in pool halls – and lost everything on his first trip to Vegas!
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