Daniel Negreanu - The Story Of Canada’s KidPoker

1 month ago
Daniel Negreanu - The Story Of Canada’s KidPoker
09:11
02 Aug

He is perhaps the best-known poker player in the world – even in the history of the game – with $millions to his name and a social media following that includes trolls by the dozen. He is, of course, Daniel 'Kid Poker' Negreanu!

Though now a US citizen and long-time resident of Las Vegas, Daniel is the son of Romanian immigrant parents who made their way to Toronto in Canada at the end of the 1960s.

By the time he was 15, thoughts of a ‘proper’ career had pretty much gone out of the window and Daniel was soon trawling the backrooms and pool halls of the city, hustling cards, pool and sportsbetting.

The bright lights city of Las Vegas was a natural destination for Daniel and that’s where his life as a poker pro really took off, although it took him the better part of a decade to work his way through the ranks and stakes to become an established big name.

His tournament success was really kicked off in 1998 when he took down his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet, scooping the $2k Pot Limit Hold’em title for $169,460 – his first-ever WSOP cash and his first 6-figure score.

Over the following years and decades he would add another five WSOP bracelets to his resume, 4 from Vegas and one each from the Europe and Asia versions of the poker world’s biggest tournament series.


World Series of Poker bracelets

Year

Tournament

Prize

1998

$2,000 Pot Limit Hold'em

$169,460

2003

$2,000 S.H.O.E.

$100,440

2004

$2,000 Limit Hold'em

$169,100

2008

$2,000 Limit Hold'em

$204,874

2013A

A$10,000 No Limit Hold'em Main Event

A$1,038,825

2013E

€25,600 High Roller No Limit Hold'em

€725,000

An "A" following a year denotes bracelet(s) won at the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific

An "E" following a year denotes bracelet(s) won at the World Series of Poker Europe


His evolution as a player owed much to his mentor, Jennifer Harman, herself one of the world’s leading players and a regular in the “Big game” at Bobby’s Room. Not everyone was a friend, however, and a well-publicised feud with Annie Duke would rage on for years and see Negreanu publicly fall out with her brother, Howard “The Professor” Lederer.

Over the years, Daniel has enjoyed his position as a sponsored pro with many online poker sites, starting with Full Contact Poker and then having to choose between the behemoths of the online poker game.

He eventually settled on PokerStars while many of his peers were part of Full Tilt Poker. Daniel said of his decision:

“Signing with PokerStars was as simple as this, there were several sites interested in having my services including UltimateBet, Full Tilt Poker and partypoker. For me it came down to integrity and which site I trusted the most, had the best software and the best vision for the future. It wasn’t about the highest bidder for me; it was about who’s the biggest, who’s the best, and who’s going to be the biggest in the future. I believed in PokerStars from the start, as the company was built by a group of IBM professionals. They weren’t some random poker-playing dudes who wanted to be businessmen. Full Tilt was off the mark; I wasn’t going to sign with them, because I didn’t trust the infrastructure even back then. If I was going to attach my name to something, game security, integrity, and longevity were most important.”

His 12 years as the face of the site saw that vision come to fruition, PokerStars the biggest site until very recently, when GGPoker toppled them from top spot, Negreanu by this time an ambassador for GGPoker.

His PokerStars time was riddled with controversy as well, the first when the site ended their SuperNovaElite status, and then leading to one of the biggest and longest feuds in poker history when Negreanu was accused by Doug Polk of saying “more rake is better.”

Polk infamously paid for a billboard in Vegas, poking fun at Daniel, on the main route to the Rio, venue for the WSOP. Polk also turned up for the Super High Roller Bowl and was sat next to Daniel, unveiling a t-shirt with the same message printed on it, much to the amusement of everyone, except for Daniel.

Insert Polktshirt pic

It is far from the only controversy or feud the Canadian has been involved in, and a quick search of Daniel Negreanu Twitter will reveal numerous such incidents between Daniel and his fellow pros

KidPoker has many defenders, however, and when you search for Daniel Negreanu wife you’ll find the staunchest of them all – Amanda Leatherman Negreanu.

Daniel and Amanda dated for a while back in 2010, and rekindled their romance towards the end of the decade. A New Year’s Eve 2018 engagement was followed by a beautiful California wedding a few months later, Phill Hellmuth, Antonio Esfandiari and Maria Ho among the poker pro guests.

On the poker side of things itself, if you search for Daniel Negreanu net worth you’ll see figures of anywhere from $30million to $80million next to his name. His Hendon Mob listing has him sitting in 3rd place in the all-time tournament moneywinners list, on a whopping $43,298,504.

He handed a chunk of his winnings back earlier this year, of course, when he lost $1.2million in the infamous Doug Polk vs Daniel Negreanu Grudge Match, the culmination of the afore-mentioned feud. That playground squabbling finally seems to be at an end, Daniel recently appearing on Doug’s podcast.

Back to the money side of poker and Daniel is one of the very few pros willing to share his tournament profit and loss figures.

An average profit of about $1million per year over the last decade isn’t a bad return. When you add in the biggest sponsorship deals that poker has to offer – 12 years with PokerStars and now with GGPoker – that net worth could land easily anywhere in that range given above.

Of course, the modern poker world doesn’t exist in a vacuum of playing cards and counting money. We’ve covered social media, but there is the old-school TV side of things to account for too and Daniel has never been shy in front of a camera.

In 2015, PokerStars released a documentary covering the life of Negreanu, from his Toronto roots through his early days in Vegas to his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Titled simply KidPoker, one poker journalist wrote of it:

"Negreanu's story is inspirational, emotionally charged, and entertaining. The family angle, explored through a great interview with Negreanu's older brother Mike, old photos, and videos, is pure magic, and really gives viewers a true insight into where poker's greatest ambassador gets his passion for the game, and life."


The documentary also features Vanessa Selbst, Phil Ivey, and Antonio Esfandiari and Negreanu himself describes it as “a story of clear intention and determination, in that the odds were stacked against me, especially in the early years," Negreanu said in a statement.

He added:

“I want this to be an inspirational film, so that when people watch it, they feel they can get back on the horse and pursue their dreams too.”

Throw in countless TV poker show appearances, the much-loved High Stakes Poker chief among them, his poker Masterclass series which has been a best-seller, and WPT titles as well as online WCOOP and SCOOP victories... Daniel Negreanu’s list of achievements is almost endless.

It has been an incredible lifestory so far, and at only 47 years old and showing no signs of slowing down, there is almost certainly another good few years of Kid Poker still to come!


Articles 2093

Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more

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