Negreanu, or Kid Poker as he is sometimes called (although the nickname seems to be getting a bit old), is arguably the world's most popular player. As a player and ambassador for the game of poker, Negreanu has probably inspired more people to learn the game than anybody else.
The Canadian is far more approachable to the common fan than either Phil Ivey or Phil Hellmuth and is the opposite of the old gunslinging, cigar-smoking, cowboy poker player stereotype. He consistently seems to get more casual poker fans railing him than any other player.
The problem has been that for the last couple of years Negreanu hasn't pulled off any significant victories.
He's had some near misses, including a second-place finish at the 2007 WPT Gold Strike World Open and a couple final tables at the WSOP, but his last real high-profile victory was back in January 2006 when he won the World Series of Poker Circuit event in Tunica.
Perhaps he set the bar too high in the early stages of his career. 2004 in particular stands out as an incredible year for Negreanu.
It was during that year that Negreanu cashed an incredible six times at the WSOP, including five final tables and one bracelet. Negreanu followed his WSOP performance by taking down two massive WPT events and it suddenly seemed reasonable to win 4+ major tournaments in a year.
It didn't work out like that. In fact Negreanu went two years without a victory at a major poker tournament, and people were starting to wonder.
It's not that Negreanu didn't have money. Various promotions and a massive signing with the world's biggest poker room (PokerStars.com) made sure there were always at least a couple coins in the likable Canadian's pocket.
It was simply the fact that Negreanu's results didn't seem up to snuff when Hellmuth was winning bracelets and Ivey a WPT title. Rumors were swirling that Negreanu had simply lost his passion for the game. At times it seemed that Negreanu was more interested in golfing, fantasy hockey and prop bets. One had to wonder if he might start to fade into the background if didn't take down a major tournament within the next couple of years.
People can stop wondering because on Thursday night Negreanu emphatically silenced his critics.
In many ways it seemed like the PokerStars pro was in the zone for the entire tournament and in typical Negreanu fashion was goofing around with his tablemates and even chatting with the rail as he built up an enormous stack.
He didn't have an easy final table, either, as David "Bakes" Baker is considered to be one of the better online players in the world and outchipped Negreanu by large margins during certain points of the evening.
Negreanu looked like he might be headed for another second- or third-place finish at a major poker tournament after coming so close to gold. Instead Negreanu battled back and easily beat Ugur Marangoz in heads-up play.
His resulting victory could have a lasting impact on poker in general. When word gets out there's a good chance hordes of new players will want to give poker a try or perhaps some will want to try it for the second time and do so by depositing another $50 in their online account.
The thing is that although players like Tom "durrrr" Dwan and Isaac "WestmenloAA" Baron are legends among habitués of online poker, no one brings in more fresh players than a certain Canadian.
One thing is clear: When Daniel Negreanu wins, so does the poker industry.