Daniel Negreanu may well be the most famous player in poker. And, in many circles, the most liked or the most reviled.
But as one of of the primary faces of both PokerStars and poker in general for the past decade, both live and online, it comes with the territory.
He's been on virtually every poker TV show, done guests spots in major Hollywood movies and TV shows (poker and otherwise), done years of blogs and video blogs to connect (and re-connect) himself with the poker community, and shared his thoughts via Twitter on, well, virtually everything.
In other words, he's been out there, for all in the poker world and beyond to see, at all times. And for good or ill, he "is" poker to many. Where did it all begin? Let's take a look.
From Romania to Toronto to Vegas
Negreanu's parents, Ann and Constantin, left the Communist regime of Romania in 1967, looking to start a new life in the United States.
They ended up settling in Toronto, Canada, instead, where Constantin found work as an electrician. They soon started a family; Daniel arrived five years after his older brother.
It was a supportive environment, even when it became clear Negreanu was destined for an unconventional lifestyle. While nursing dreams of a career in acting or comedy, the 15-year-old learned to play a little poker.
By 16, he was spending time in the reputable (and non-reputable) pool halls of the city -- hustling, sports betting and - yes - playing cards.
By the time he was 18, Negreanu had dropped out of high school - one credit short of graduation - to focus on poker. He started supplementing his play at illegal games around town with trips to charity casinos.
Ever charming, he met and started dating a local dealer by the name of Evelyn Ng. For a more traditional lifestyle, he tried one day as a telemarketer and a month working at a Subway, but his path clearly led elsewhere.
At 21, an eager (and finally legal) Negreanu took the money he'd made in local games to try his talents against the world's finest poker players in Las Vegas. He lasted about seven months before returning home, broke but determined.
Building up a new bankroll in games around Toronto he made one more push to Vegas - this time for good.
It was around this time that Daniel's father passed away. The young player took the occasion to evaluate his lifestyle. Deciding he was destined to play poker, he seemed to gain the focus necessary to become a truly great player.
His career took an upward turn which has continued largely unabated.
Kid Poker Is Born
The next year, 1997, saw Negreanu's first substantial tournament wins, including two at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods where he was named the tournament's best all-around player. Encouraged and with a considerably fattened bankroll, Negreanu entered the World Series of Poker the next year where he won the first event he entered - $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em.
He was history's youngest bracelet winner (a title he held until 2004) and "Kid Poker" was born.
In 1999, the Kid took down the United States Poker Championship. But around this time success started to catch up with Daniel. Excessive drinking, money mismanagement and too much time alone affected his game and 2000 was a quiet year for wins.
Turning his life and his game around, in 2001 he made the money in dozens of tournaments and finished 11th in the WSOP Main Event. But the best was still to come for Kid Poker. In 2004, he took a gold bracelet in the WSOP - for Limit Hold'em - and made it to the money in five other events, earning him ESPN's Toyota Player of the Year award.
That same year he won the Borgata Poker Open and a prize of $1,117,400, as well as the Five Diamond World Poker Classic, worth $1,770,218. Negreanu's presence continued to be felt on the WPT circuit (where he is one of the all-time money leaders) and at the WSOP, where he was welcomed onto the Player Advisory Board in 2006.
Passionate about maintaining the event's integrity, Negreanu was key in the introduction of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event - which he believes is a truer indicator of skill than the Main Event - as well as significant scheduling changes.
In addition to playing and advisory duties Negreanu was in demand as an author, contributing his own chapter to Doyle Brunson's legendary Super/System 2, the sequel to what may be the best poker book ever written.
In 2007 he released his own work, Hold'em Wisdom for All Players, which has sold out numerous printings. He also writes regular blogs and articles for online and print publication.
Negreanu + PokerStars = 2gether 4ever
In 2007 Negreanu also signed as a member of Team PokerStars – an agreement that stands to the present. Negreanu has been arguably been the most influential poker player in PokerStars’ history as a central player in most (if not all) of PokerStars’ most significant innovations, promotions and successes - along with a few of its biggest failures.
2013 was another particularly significant year for Negreanu as he won his first-ever WSOP Main Event at WSOP Asia-Pacific. He also won a second bracelet at the WSOP Europe that year.
For those finishes and several other deep runs Negreanu was named 2013 WSOP Player of the Year, 2013 Bluff Player of the Year and 2013 Card Player Player of the Year.
He also finished the season ranked #1 on the Global Poker Index, a specific mission he set out to accomplish before the year began.
In 2014 Negreanu finished second in the $1m Big One for One Drop event to earn $8.2m – to date his single largest cash ever. With career earnings of around $40m, that’s no small share.
In 2015 he almost made the final table on the WSOP Main Event again – the second time he’s come impossibly close – when he finished 11th. As of this writing Negreanu has 6 career WSOP bracelets – his last coming in 2013.
Here he is after finishing second at the One Drop and at the time becoming the highest earning poker player of all-time (he's since been passed by Justin Bonomo):
Negreanu + Leatherman, 2gether At Last
The now 40+ Negreanu continues to play tournaments as he always has, preparing for the WSOP each year as he always has (watching all five Rocky movies). As he reminds his fans and followers regularly, he's also a committed vegan.
Always one of the most outspoken players in poker, Negreanu continues to speak his mind both in interviews and on Twitter as has often been asked to drop in as a guest during ESNP’s WSOP coverage or PokerStars’ EPT coverage. Follow him on Twitter @RealKidPoker here.
He’s also a popular person to ask when casting agents need to find a poker player and he can be seen in Hollywood movies including X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Grand, Lucky You and Detention and on TV shows including Millionaire Matchmaker.
His appearances on the Game Show Network's High Stakes Poker are infamous and he remains one of the most sought after feature-table performers at high-stakes events like the Aria Super High Roller Bowl and US Poker Open.
Away from the tables he always finds time to support charities like the Make a Wish Foundation, various Canadian charities and - of course - running his own charity poker tournaments. His annual St Jude’s Charity tournament in Las Vegas has raised a small fortune.
Negreanu recently got engaged to former (and then current) girlfriend Amanda Leatherman and continues to live in his adopted home of Las Vegas where he’s a season ticket holder and big supporter of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.
Daniel Negreanu Masterclass
In 2018 Daniel joined mainstream coaching/training site Masterclass. He's put together a 38-class poker "Masterclass" that outlines all of the tips and techniques he's learned over the years in easily digestible format for poker players of all levels.
Along with 38 video lessons with Negreanu you'll get a downloadable workbook with lesson recaps, assignments and an advanced terminology guide (aka a glossary of poker terms). Learn more at Masterclass.com.
Negreanu has also had a long-standing desire to get on legendary reality TV show Survivor, which no less than Survivor legend Boston Rob has said would be a perfect fit for him:
The GOAT of poker