Kid Poker Documentary Makes it to Netflix3 years ago
A brand new poker documentary on the life of Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu has arrived on Netflix and having watched it myself I highly recommend it as essential viewing for anyone with even just a passing interest in poker.
A boring life can kill off even the best documentary but if you know anything about the life of Daniel Negreanu you will know that his life has been anything but boring. As you watch “Kid Poker” you see be taken on a roller coaster ride of emotion as you join Daniel, his family and his friends in revisiting the amazing highs and the devastating lows that has shaped the life of one of the most charismatic and recognizable faces in poker over the last 16 years.
The documentary begins with Daniel stating that since his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014 at the age of 40, he has encountered a number of milestones in his life that has caused him to stop and reflect on how he has came to this point on his life and how he wishes to move forward as a more rounded person as well as a poker player.
The documentary is predictably introspective and there is a nostalgic and emotive feel throughout the film with many of the scenes accompanied by melancholy background music and plenty of slow motion vignettes that helps set the mood. Daniel is absolutely honest throughout and approaches the difficult subjects head on, which I found very impressive. Daniel manages to be very candid and controls his emotions as he discusses the difficult moments in his life, such as the passing of his parents.
The documentary begins with Daniel discussing his parents, who have both now passed away. Daniel was very close to his father from whom he advises he inherited a lot of his charisma and his love of humor. When Daniel was in his early twenties and was just beginning to make a name for himself on the professional poker circuit, his father's health suddenly deteriorated and he died. This had a massive effect on Daniel and he goes into lots of detail about the void in his life from that point. He also shares lots of video footage from the Negreanu family archive which helps bring his parents to life in the early part of the documentary.
It is clear Daniel has a great love for his parents and in particular, his late mother, who moved to Las Vegas and helped Daniel organize his life. It is well-known that she used to make Daniel and Phil Ivey a packed lunch to take to the WSOP tournaments in the mid 2000’s and they both enjoyed better results at the time. They say this was no co-incidence.
Daniel’s older brother, Mike Negreanu, bristles with pride and emotion throughout the film as he offers lots of anecdotes about Daniel’s life that we did not already know about. With a smile, Mike also tells about that Daniel was a talented scholar but not a young man who applied himself at all times and who the rules were never very important. His teachers liked him, but he was cheeky and talkative. We recognize those traits in Daniel at the poker table.
Mike is clearly over the moon at the success Daniel has achieved in his life and clearly loves his brother. You will feel the emotion when he discusses watching Daniel go towards the airport after their mother was buried and his emotion as he recounts thinking “he is on his own now” will touch you. Mike Negreanu comes across as a very nice guy in this documentary which I am sure is a true representation of him as a person.
There are a number of appearances by big name poker players in this documentary. Phil Hellmuth Jr, John Duthie, John Mercier, Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Ivey all make cameos to praise Daniel for his contribution to poker and their thoughts on the man himself. The person who gets interviewed the most is Daniel’s old friend, Jennifer Harman. Harman has not been seen much since the closure of Full Tilt and it is a testament to how highly she views Daniel that she agreed to participate in this film. Jennifer tells us the backstory of when Daniel won his first WSOP bracelet and they immediately struck up a lifelong friendship that began the instant he was presented with his first bracelet.
Around twenty minutes from the end of the film we are introduced to the more mature side of Daniel that has developed since he has joined Choice Center, the leadership university Daniel joined to assist him with his personal development and of which he is a big supporter.
I felt that with his mother gone Daniel has found love and belonging in choice center and the remainder of the movie looks at how Daniel is setting goals for his life, how he tries to be the best person he can be and how he is driven to now give back to society and contribute rather than simply being a poker player who seeks to take from others. Many other successful poker players have had a similar epiphany and it is clear Daniel has had his.
There are a number of topics not covered in this documentary. At no point does Daniel go into any detail about his marriage or personal life. It is strictly family and poker. He does not discuss the Full Tilt Poker collapse or any of the online poker scandals that he was so vocal in criticising a few years back. As this is a PokerStars Films production, perhaps this is not surprising but touching upon these areas would have been interesting to viewers.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent poker documentary. It has a high-end production feel and tells the story of the most successful poker player in tournament poker history in a sensitive and honest way. This documentary will give you hope that nice guys do not always finish last and in Negreanu’s case, they often finish first.
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