Known all over the world as one of the most successful poker players of all time, Daniel Negreanu’s life is an open book. While many celebrities guard their privacy, Negreanu puts his everyday thoughts and experiences on his blog and he has for years.
He’s got a crazy sense of humor, a lot of money, and a deep appreciation for family. Negreanu also loves to gamble and he’s not afraid to talk about his losses.
Fans know him as Dnegs, but his first big nickname was Kid Poker. He even used “kidpoker” as an email address for years.
He is funny and sometimes controversial. Whether it’s questioning socially sensitive topics like the name of the Black Entertainment Television or dressing up as Scotty Nguyen while playing against him in a tournament, Negreanu dances to his own beat in life.
Dnegs has fans and critics like all celebrities. His life has been documented a thousand ways over. But it’s always fun to learn something new about someone who has been around so long. See how many of these details about Daniel Negreanu are new to you.
1 – He Passed on Joining PokerStars
Fans know Daniel Negreanu and PokerStars go way back. But he could have been there from the beginning and chose not to be.
Writing on his own blog, Steve Badger states that, in 2001, Daniel Negreanu put him in touch with “a Canadian acquaintance” about a business proposition. Isai Scheinberg was looking for investors in the company that became PokerStars. Badger signed on but Negreanu passed.
To be fair, Dnegs was not the only person to pass on PokerStars as Badger’s article explains. It was a decision he later had a chance to reverse.
2 – He Fell in Love With Hearthstone Right Away
He’s neither the first nor the last poker player to download the app. But the way Negreanu tells it, he was about to go to a party when he began playing the app. Nearly six hours later, he realized he had missed the party.
Hearthstone is a deceptively simple game. Players use cards to fight matches between heroes and minions. Who goes first and which character is played weighs heavily on the outcome of the game.
There are costs to every decision and rewards for completing daily quests. The strategic components of the game obviously appeal to people like Negreanu. The player-vs-player action is another factor that poker players appreciate.
3 – Losing His Dog Taught Him Something Profound
The Negreanu family had a dog named Lucky. Early in Daniel’s poker career, he was still living with his family. According to a blog post he wrote years later, he was taking a shower when his father cried out, “Lucky’s dead! Lucky’s dead!”
The family was distraught over their loss, but Daniel couldn’t allow himself to cry. He felt the grief, but his feelings wouldn’t show. In his own words, Dnegs analyzed what happened.
“By that time, I’d already been playing poker on a daily basis and I was getting better and better. My knowledge base was steadily growing, my reading ability was improving, and MOST importantly, my emotional control was becoming more stable. So, as I was getting better and better at hiding my emotions, I think that ability spilled over to my personal life and had a negative effect on me. It basically numbed my heart, and that’s not something I wanted as a by-product of being a good poker player.”
The life lesson he learned from this introspection was to not be afraid to show your feelings outside the game. “Don’t numb your heart.”
4 – He Paid a Backer 50% of His Winnings in the 1990s
Everyone knows that it’s easier to stake a good player for a piece of their action than to master the game and go up against thousands of other good or great players.
Daniel Negreanu began staking himself in poker tournaments in 2000, according to this New York Times Magazine profile. Until then, he needed a backer who took a 50% cut from everything he won in the tournaments.
Being able to cover his own entry fees allowed Negreanu to grow his wealth that much faster. And his independence has transferred into other financial areas of his life.
He’s not afraid to lose $100,000 of his own money on a single bet.
5 – He Has Lost Millions Playing Golf
In July 2019, Negreanu shared some of his golf stories with the No Laying Up podcast.
He’s lost about $3 million on golf bets, including a $1.2 million loss to poker rival and friend Phil Ivey. But he claims to have won it back over the years.
With a little more than a week to spare, he played his final round to win the bet. On the last shot, he needed to sink a six-foot putt. His knees gave out on the shot, but he sank the ball.
6 – He Shared His Conversion to Veganism on His Blog
You must use the Wayback Machine to read the post now, but in November 2002, in November 2002 Daniel told his readersDaniel told his readers about when and why he decided to stop eating meat.
His Romanian mother loves to cook and she raised her family on hearty meaty dishes. Although skeptical of her son’s new diet, she bought vegan cookbooks and learned to prepare wholesome meals for him.
Food is an important part of the Negreanu family life. In interviews like the New York Times article above, Dnegs shares how his mother constantly uses food to entice him away from poker.
If he’s winning, he’s won enough and should come eat. If he’s losing, it’s not his day, so he ought to come back and eat. If he’s breaking even, well, that’s a good time to take a break and eat.
Going full vegan in 2006, Negreanu doesn’t push his beliefs on others. But when people talk to him about why he doesn’t eat meat, he asks them probing questions that challenge their comfort.
He credits his change in diet with improving his poker game, too. He sometimes felt lethargic after eating a heavy meal. After switching to a vegan lifestyle, he had more energy, his game improved, and he manages his weight well.
7 – His Advice on Poker Tells Goes Against Conventional Wisdom
In the early 2000s, Dnegs wrote an article for CardPlayer Magazine that he republished on his blog, the legendary “The Truth About Tells.” The article was republished many times on amateur poker blogs for years and cited in books and magazines.
Negreanu challenges the conventional wisdom of watching players’ body language. His philosophy is that the tells are in the action, not in subtle hand movements and nervous tics.
To this day, gambling bloggers dwell on body language stereotypes when discussing tells.
Holding nothing in your hand, you can drag out a decision for minutes before folding, and the other player may be so relieved he won that he won’t challenge you again.
Maybe this advice has been lost on bloggers who don’t dig deep enough in Bing and Google’s search results for their “10 tips” articles, but experienced players still know that half the other player’s bluffing is in his silence.
Love him or hate, Daniel Negreanu helped change the game of poker. He was among the first generation of young superstars to take the game away from the older players.
He has been more open with his followers about his private life than many a celebrity, and he’s honest about his mistakes. He seems to take life in stride.
Doyle Brunson said at one time that Negreanu may be the best poker player ever. It doesn’t really matter who agrees with that judgment. As long as Dnegs keeps playing the game, people will have interesting things to share about him.
Daniel Negreanu isn’t afraid to live life the way he wants.