Published on June 1st, 2017 | by Kira Browdy


The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Daniel Negreanu


                                                        Source: Wikimedia

In the early nineties in Toronto, Canada, Daniel Negreanu decided he was going to be a world-famous actor. When NBC came to town in search of fresh faces for casting, he made it into the top 20 out of over 3,000 hopefuls. In his televised interview for the NBC competition, he was asked the same question every aspiring actor gets in early interviews: “Are you going to make it?” Turning on his now famous charismatic charm, he turned to the camera and answered with an impish grin: “I’m going to be a star!” Little did he know to what heights his fame would rise, even landing cameo roles in feature films.

What makes his story so engaging is the intricate tapestry of events that brought him to fame, the flip-side of the polished professional he is today. Watching Daniel’s story unfold in his Netflix documentary, his narrative was conveyed with candor, humor, and empathy.

Not exactly known for quiet introspection, we see the tenacious brilliance take root when traditional learning environments became so monotonous he insisted on making his own rules. In constant search of activities where he could use his gifts of statistics, logic, and hand-eye coordination, he and his friends discovered the local pool hall around nearby. Playing for fun rather than money, it was here he learned the necessary skills and street smarts one needs to be successful at poker. Initially, Daniel began playing Texas Hold’em just to pass the time with friends, but it eventually evolved into regular events held in his basement. Things began to get interesting when the up and coming phenom began to play against more experienced men, shamelessly cleaning them out in quick succession. Not long after, Negreanu had a bankroll of over three thousand dollars and set his sights on the Las Vegas strip.

Sitting among veterans of the game at the famed Horseshoe Casino, Daniel was quickly relieved of the sizable bankroll accumulated in Toronto. No longer a big fish in a little pond, he left Vegas with next to nothing in his wallet trip after trip. Each time Daniel came home to Toronto, he pushed himself to hone his skill, spending hours studying the pros, perfecting his own signature style while building another bankroll to take to the big leagues.

When most would have quit after the first or second loss in Vegas, Daniel Negreanu asked himself “what am I doing wrong?” choosing to see the challenge similar to that of acting due to his deeply ingrained competitive streak. He refused to accept defeat. His determination paid off in spades when within two years of those first losses at the Horseshoe, he played in his first World Series of Poker event, eventually becoming the youngest player ever to hold a WSOP bracelet. When asked now to what he owes his success, he answers “The truth is, I have always had a lot of confidence in myself, so I knew I could make it work. If I went dead broke tomorrow, I know that I can do it again.”


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