Behind Daniel Negreanu’s quest for a third World Series of Poker Player of the Year Award

Scurrying down the hallway as another one of his 2022 World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournaments enters break, Daniel Negreanu weaves through the crowd of people in the Paris Las Vegas Convention center as his iPhone is in the midst of recording a segment for the next day’s YouTube vlog.

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“YouTube is always a good way to promote whatever you’re doing,” Negreanu said on his daily YouTube vlogs throughout the WSOP. “Now that I’m with GGPoker, I’m promoting ClubGG and GGPoker. People just started to enjoy the game, and I enjoyed doing it. There’s nobody playing all the big buy-in ones that are willing to do these.”

For more than a decade, Negreanu was a member of Team PokerStars Pro, but in 2019, the two parted ways. Later in the year, GGPoker signed Negreanu to be one of their brand ambassadors, and in the time since, GGPoker has emerged as one of poker’s powerhouses around the world.

Growth of Poker

Negreanu’s career began in the late 1990s when he attended the WSOP at Binion’s Horseshoe in Downtown Las Vegas. Negreanu won the first three of his six WSOP bracelets at Binion’s before the WSOP outgrew his first home and relocated to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for the next 17 years.

“I’m surprised to see how big it got, but I wasn’t surprised to see it be cool,” Negreanu said about how poker has evolved to where it is right now. “I remember as a kid watching on ESPN when Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan played. I said this is the coolest thing ever. I’m not surprised people found interest in it. I’m just surprised it grew like this.”

From humble beginnings and small fields, the WSOP has grown to see tournaments attracting more than 20,000 entrants. The 2022 Housewarming was the fourth-largest field in WSOP history last week, while the biggest event in WSOP history occurred in 2019 with “The BIG 50” attracting more than 28,000 entrants.

“I definitely saw that coming post-Moneymaker,” Negreanu said on seeing the 20,000-entrant fields eventually happening to the WSOP. “After Moneymaker, all of a sudden there’s a whole new market of players that want to play the World Series of Poker. What that means is that buy-ins start to lower. When you have the $400 Colossus and all these kinds of things, you’re going to see crazy-big fields.”

Juggling Being a Poker Personality and a Poker Player

There is no argument that Negreanu is the most fan-friendly poker player the game has ever seen. Whether it’s a request for a selfie or to sign one of the poker books he has authored, Negreanu always has time for his fans. Except on tournament breaks.

Negreanu uses his breaks to rush back to his private room so that he can refuel, reset, and review the hands he played.

“I don’t think it hurts my poker,” Negreanu said about vlogging on breaks during the WSOP. “It forces me every break to go over each hand and think about it on a deep level. I’m learning while I do that. I’m allowing myself to vent. It’s similar to what you would do if you were journaling.”

Chasing WSOP Player of the Year and a 7th Bracelet

The first-ever WSOP Player of the Year award went to Negreanu at the 2004 WSOP after he cashed in six of the 32 events. Negreanu reached four final tables and won his third WSOP bracelet in the $2,000 Limit Hold’em event.

Negreanu would become the first two-time winner of the WSOP Player of the Year award in 2013 when he cashed 10 times, and from the four final tables he reached, he won two WSOP bracelets. Negreanu won his fifth WSOP bracelet in the WSOP Asia-Pacific Main Event and his sixth in the WSOP Europe High Roller.

In 2019, Negreanu was “awarded” his third WSOP Player of the Year after the race went down to the wire with 2018 WSOP Player of the Year and Australian Robert Campbell. However, after a data entry error was noticed, it would be Campbell being crowned the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year.

“I’ve changed my approach to Player of the Year,” Negreanu said. “I don’t do the Shaun Deeb. Shaun Deeb is running round playing this and that, and these small buy-in, huge-field events. I’m not doing any of that. I’m going for wins.”

Negreanu is very vocal with planning out his schedule and building in rest so that he can perform at his best. He would love to win the $800 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack, but he also understands that he has a better chance to win the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship where more points are often available.

“To win WSOP Player of the Year, you need big points, and you need to put up a couple of wins,” Negreanu said, “You can do that by focusing on quality over quantity. There is still plenty of time. I’m resilient as f***. I don’t ever feel out of it.”

With a WSOP bracelet drought of more than eight years, Negreanu has had many close calls with 11 top-three finishes since his WSOP Europe High Roller win. Negreanu is always a betting favorite at the start of each WSOP due to his volume of play and his incredible results – even without claiming poker’s top prize.

“I believe the bracelets come with it,” Negreanu said on chasing WSOP bracelets and attempting to win another WSOP Player of the Year award. “You’re rarely going to see WSOP Player of the Year won by someone who didn’t win a bracelet. It’s very, very difficult to do.”

Negreanu’s list of poker achievements and accolades is incredibly long, but for the Poker Hall of Fame member, would winning his seventh WSOP bracelet or unprecedented third WSOP Player of the Year award mean more to him?

“It’s a unique thing that’s probably more important to me. To hit my third WSOP Player of the Year award before anyone else has two.”

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