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Daniel Negreanu

 

Poker Source: What is your favorite childhood memory?

Daniel Negreanu: Favorite childhood memory…wow…that’s one I haven’t thought of in a really long time. I usually get these answers real quick…

…OK, I got one. This is kind of sick.

My dad kicking the crap out of some punk rocker guy [laughs]. That was the coolest thing ever! The guy spit at my dad and my dad just ripped him apart at a bus station. I thought that was so cool.

PS: Was it someone people would know or was it just some punk guy?

Daniel Negreanu: No, it was just some bum guy who was asking my dad what time it was and my dad goes, “What?”

“What time is it?”

“Huh?”

“What time is it?”

My dad didn’t understand what he said and the guy told my dad to f-off. So my dad spit at the guy and then the guy spit back and then my dad stuck his fingers in the guy’s mouth and ripped his lips open.

PS: How has playing poker changed your life?

Daniel Negreanu: Financially, it gives me the freedom to do whatever I want. Also, because I’m my own boss, I don’t have to answer to anybody. I always hated having a boss. And it also gave me the opportunity, because poker has raised us to celebrity status, to meet some really cool people that I grew up watching, like athletes, actors, and people like that.

[At this point, the GPS navigation system in his car announces his next turn]

PS: And it gives you the opportunity to have something like that in your car.

Daniel Negreanu: Exactly! [Laughs]

PS: What has been your biggest extravagance since turning pro?

Daniel Negreanu: I’m not much of a “bling-bling” guy, but probably the “bling-blingiest” thing is the thing I am in right now – a Lexus SC430 convertible.

PS: If you weren’t a poker player, how would you be earning a living?

Daniel Negreanu: For one, I think I was going to be good at whatever I did, because if you can make it in poker, you can make it in anything. But I think it would’ve been related to the film industry, either acting or writing movie scripts.

PS: You did make a brief appearance in the ESPN television show, “Tilt,” but have you gotten involved in anything any more than that?

Daniel Negreanu: Not really, no. It’s not something I pursue or anything like that. It’s something that when I was younger, I did. As early as thirteen years old I used to act – I just got away from it when I started playing poker. I did some stand-up on a cruise ship for a bunch of poker players and that went really, really well. That was probably the most exciting moment ever for me in my life.

PS: What is the worst part of being recognized?

Daniel Negreanu: Drunk people. I’m totally cool for the most part, but drunk people get a little bit sloppy and they feel like they know you, like you’re their best buddy. They often won’t shut-up and leave you alone.

PS: What was the lowest point and highest point in your poker career?

Daniel Negreanu: My highest point was the end of 2004. I was Player of the Year for about 364 days. Going into the last tournament, a player passed me, so I was number two. The task ahead of me was that I had to come in ninth or better in the last event, which had 376 players. Not only did I make it to the final nine, but I did so with the biggest chip lead in World Poker Tour history. I ended up winning the event and $1.8 million. That made me the all-time money leader on the World Poker Tour, it made me Player of the Year…it reminded me of a bases loaded, bottom of the ninth homerun. I just love when the pressure is on and that was definitely my high point. It summed up just a fantastic year for me.

The low point…would have to be the year of 2000. I got bored with the game. I think I got burned out. I wasn’t interested in playing; I just kind of goofed off for a while. Spent money, didn’t make any.

PS: Obviously, last year was a ridiculous year, and I know this year, at least as far as tournaments are concerned, hasn’t been quite the success that last year was. Aside from results, do you see a difference between this year and last year?

Daniel Negreanu: What happened last year, I don’t know if it will happen again to anybody. It was a combination of playing extremely well and not too many horrible [poker related] things happening. This year, a lot of horrible things have happened. The cards break even or whatever, I’ve had less luck. I’m still ahead in tournaments, I still make money. I never expected to do as well in 2005 as in 2004. I was just happy if I did anything. Basically, I think for the most part, it’s luck.

Plus, I do have a lot more on my plate these days, with getting married, other business ventures, I was the ambassador at Wynn, I’ve got a video game coming out, my book, my website, plus my challenge matches. A lot of that takes away from the amount of poker I can play.

PS: Speaking of the challenge matches, what was the thought process behind doing that sort of thing?

Daniel Negreanu: There were a couple things. The Wynn hired me as the poker ambassador, so a) I thought it would create a buzz about the room and the kind of action that they didn’t have, b) I thought it would be really fun for me in that I would be playing against the best in the world and because I was exclusive to Wynn, it was the only game I could try, and c) I also felt like it would be profitable because I wasn’t only going to get top-notch players, I was going to probably get some mediocre to novice players wanting to just take a challenge.

Lastly, without a doubt, by playing all these matches heads-up, it gave me the opportunity to possibly be more experienced playing heads-up than anyone in the world. So, I could become the best heads-up player in the world by playing against the best.

PS: Where is your favorite place to hang out when you’re not playing poker?

Daniel Negreanu: At home. People ask me my favorite vacation spot…it’s my couch. Because I’m on the road so much and I have everything I need at home…I’ve got my Tivo, I’ve got my computer set up, I’ve got my pool outside, I love relaxing at home. I love it when I get home.

PS: What is your most significant or proudest non-poker accomplishment?

Daniel Negreanu: Absolutely it had to be when I did stand-up for just under 1,000 people. I practiced for like 45 minutes. I didn’t even write anything out really; I just did it off-the-cuff. The adrenaline that flows through your body in a situation like that is hard to measure. People were laughing like crazy and saying, “You’re in the wrong profession!” It was just such a great feeling. It was pressure-packed and I was really proud of the fact that I came through in the clutch.

PS: Who would play YOU in The Daniel Negreanu Story?

Daniel Negreanu: Well, the first obvious choice is Edward Norton and the second would be Matt Damon. I like Matt Damon – he’s a nice guy and a great actor. But I think Edward Norton would have to be the obvious choice.

PS: What is your least favorite interview question?

Daniel Negreanu: Generally, the one where people will ask if I’ve ever had a royal flush. It’s a question that shows you don’t really know anything. Dumb question. Stupid.

Oh, ok, no, this is one: “What’s the best hand you’ve ever won?” What do you mean what’s my best hand I’ve ever won? Stupid.

To learn more about Daniel Negreanu, visit his website, FullContactPoker.com.