Negreanu was born in Toronto, Ontario. In 1974, his parents, Annie and Constantin, emigrated from Communist Romania, hoping to start a new life in the United States. Instead, they ended up settling in Toronto, where Constantin worked as an electrician and sold confectionery. Daniel was born five years after his brother, and even at an early age was extremely ambitious. “From the age of four, I thought I’d be rich. I told my mom I’d build a house out of Popsicle sticks, and move to Cafornia (sic),” Daniel recalls in a 2009 interview.
Daniel Negreanu attended Pineway public middle school in North York, where the principal complained to his mother about Daniel’s “poor manners or behavior” and threatened to expel him for “ignoring the school rules.” While nursing dreams of a career as a professional snooker player, the then 15-year-old Daniel learned how to play poker. By 16, he was spending time in pool halls, hustling, sports betting, and playing cards. When he was several credits short of graduation Daniel dropped out of high school and began his life as a rounder playing at the local charity casinos, usually at Casino Country and Fundtime Games, and looking for illegal games around the city. While in Toronto, Daniel met and began dating Evelyn Ng, who would also become a well-known professional poker player. After building up his bankroll, he left for Las Vegas at the age of 22 to pursue his dream of becoming a professional poker player. However, “The Strip” got the better of him and he was forced to move back home to Toronto to rebuild his bankroll.
In August 2005, he married Lori Lin Weber and they later separated in November 2007. He resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Negreanu has a blog at Full Contact Poker where he posts his thoughts and feelings about different things in life, politics, the poker world and everything. He is also a heavy NHL fan once claiming on Poker After Dark at the dream table he was thinking of declining the offer because the tournament was in the middle of hockey season. He is often seen wearing NHL jerseys of the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams. Daniel became a vegetarian in 2000, he has been vegan since 2006. After many years living in the USA, he received his green card on July 15, 2009. On November 23, 2009 Daniel’s mother died in her sleep after being ill for many months.
Negreanu has a personal history of philanthropy. In addition to frequent appearances in charity events, such as “Ante Up for Africa”, which raises money for crisis-torn Darfur, Negreanu is the founder of the annual “Big Swing” charity golf event.
The first annual Big Swing event was held on June 25 at the Harrah’s Rio Secco Golf Club. Professional poker players Scotty Nguyen and Erick Lindgren were among the celebrity poker players paired with foursomes who had donated $3,000 to the Lili Claire Foundation. The Lili Claire Foundation is a Las Vegas charity that serves children born with special needs and their families.
Negreanu is an accomplished tournament and cash game player. Negreanu has amassed four WSOP and two WPT championships, numerous WSOP and WPT final tables, as well as various other tournament titles. Negreanu’s most successful year came in 2004 when he was named the Card Player Player of the Year and the WSOP Player of the Year. He was also named the 2004-05 WPT Player of the Year. In 2006, Negreanu was named “Favorite Poker Player” at Card Player Magazine’s Player of the Year Awards Gala.
In the past, Negreanu has regularly played the big game in Bobby’s Room, in the Bellagio casino, Las Vegas, where the limits are $4,000-$8,000 or greater and the games are mixed. He is a self-admitted action junkie who always seeks new challenges and sets high goals for himself, not only at the poker table but also on the golf course. Unlike many other players, he is very outspoken about his poker results and regularly posts updates in the forums at the Full Contact Poker website. Some of Negreanu’s success is attributed to his ability to read opponents. When asked about this, Negreanu explained that the most important skill he employs is observing what hands his opponents play and how capable they are of playing them.
Negreanu burst onto the tournament poker scene in 1997 with three tournament wins including two events at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods, earning $55,064 as well as being named the tournament’s best all-around player.
As of 2012, his total live tournament winnings exceed $16,100,000. His 51 cashes at the WSOP account for $3,634,251 of those winnings. He recently became the all-time leading money winner for tournament poker, surpassing Phil Ivey, only to be surpassed by Erik Seidel.
Negreanu’s first in the money finish at the WSOP also happened to be his first WSOP bracelet. Negreanu won $169,460 in the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event in the 1998 World Series of Poker (WSOP) and became the youngest WSOP bracelet winner in history — a record he held until 2004. Negreanu has since captured another three bracelets. He has 23 career WSOP final table appearances, including two at the WSOP Europe, and 51 money finishes.
World Series of Poker bracelets Year Tournament Prize (US$)
1998 $2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em $169,460
2003 $2,000 S.H.O.E. $100,440
2004 $2,000 Limit Hold’em $169,100
2008 $2,000 Limit Hold’em $204,874
World Poker Tour Titles Year Tournament Prize (US$)
2004 $10,300 Borgata Poker Open $1,117,400
2004 $15,000 Five Diamond World Poker Classic $1,795,218
Other notable tournaments
In 1997, he won two events at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods, earning $55,064 as well as being named the tournament’s best all-around player.
In November 2008, Negreanu won the fourth-annual British Columbia Poker Championships main event, topping a field of 690 players (a personal high for Daniel), and earning $371,910 CAD ($299,951 USD).
In December 2005, he started his own online poker cardroom “skin” site on his official site, Full Contact Poker, which also includes his blog and a variety of poker forums. He played at his cardroom under the screen name “KidPoker”. In 2006, he used Full Contact Poker to launch a competition to select a protégé, whom Daniel would attempt to mold into a world-class live tournament poker player. In addition, he agreed to pay the protégé’s entry fee into four $10,000 buy-in events. Daniel’s first protégé was Brian Fidler. In 2007, Daniel ran a second protégé promotion, which was won by Anthony Mak. After the events of Black Friday, Negreanu moved back to Canada in order to continue playing online poker on Poker Stars.
In June 2007 Negreanu signed with PokerStars, joining Chris Moneymaker, Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer and many other professional poker players as a member of Team PokerStars. His Full Contact Poker site has since returned to being a forum and informational site.
Other poker activities
Upon opening, the Wynn Las Vegas resort recruited him as their “Poker Ambassador” to play for any stake in their poker room. The arrangement lasted until October 2005, when he opted out because it was restricting his ability to play for high stakes outside the Wynn.
Negreanu has played poker on various TV shows such as Late Night Poker, Poker After Dark, and High Stakes Poker, as well as serving as a commentator and stand-in host on Ultimate Poker Challenge. He also appeared in the third season of Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament. In January 2007, Negreanu appeared in the Fox Reality original series Rob and Amber: Against the Odds, in which he mentored reality television personality Rob Mariano in his bid to become a professional poker player.
In May 2008, Negreanu’s book Power Hold’em Strategy was released. The book resembles the Doyle Brunson book Super/System in that it has contributions from several other poker players, including Evelyn Ng, Erick Lindgren, Paul Wasicka, Todd Brunson and David Williams. Negreanu’s section presents and explains the strategy of small ball poker. At the same time he started a poker teaching site called Poker VT. Negreanu is also featured in the 2006 poker video game Stacked with Daniel Negreanu, providing tips and hints as to how to play effectively. He has written over 100 articles for CardPlayer Magazine and contributed to Doyle Brunson’s revised book, Super System II. He has tutored on the web as part of Poker School Online and also personally given lessons to celebrities such as Tobey Maguire.