The Anatomy – and End – of Daniel Negreanu’s Tournament Futility

Eight years of futility ended on Tuesday for Daniel Negreanu as he won a live poker tournament for the first time since 2013. (PokerGO photo)

Daniel Negreanu was all smiles. In front of him were multiple stacks of Euros and in his hand was a World Series of Poker bracelet – the sixth of his career. He was posing for winner’s photos in front of a backdrop that included the Eiffel Tower.

It was October, 2013, and Negreanu had just won the €25,000 High Roller at WSOP Europe and in the process, claimed his second WSOP Player of the Year award. It was his 40th career live tournament victory and he was just a month away from being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. Little did he know what was coming.

It was another 2,821 days – nearly eight years – before Negreanu won another live tournament. Posed for another winner phot. That streak of tournament futility ended on Tuesday, when he defeated rising star David Coleman heads up to win Event #7 ($50,000 NLHE) of the PokerGO Cup. Between that memorable night in Paris and Tuesday night in Las Vegas, there were multiple close calls through the years. And millions of dollars lost.

Ten Times The Bridesmaid

The time between victories included ten runner-up in-the-money finishes. A feat deemed so spectacular that Doug Polk recently created a video about it. Outside of finishing one spot behind Phil Hellmuth in a Poker After Dark sit-n-go, most of Negreanu’s nine other second place results came in high-profile spots.

The first two came at the 2014 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. First, he lost to Paul Volpe heads up in the $10,000 No Limit Deuce event. Then came what was arguably the most high-profile runner-up finish in poker history. Negreanu lost to Daniel Colman in the second-ever $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop. He walked away from that with $8,288,001 in earnings while Colman took home $15,306,668 for his win.

In April 2017, he posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in a pair of $25,400 buy-in Mixed Game High Roller events at the Bellagio before returning to the WSOP that summer. There he finished behind Abe Mosseri in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship event. In November of that year, Dan Smith took home $1,404,000 for beating Negreanu heads up in a $100,000 Super High Roller at the Bellagio. His Poker After Dark second place finish came a month later.

In 2018, he finished second to Justin Bonomo in the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl. His most recent runner-up finishes came at the 2019 WSOP. He lost to John Hennigan in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship before falling to Keith Tilston in the $100,000 Super High Roller event.

The difference between winning and finishing second in all of those events was worth $11,088,018.

6/3/2014$10,000 WSOP No Limit 2-7 Championship$156,674
6/29/2014$1,000,000 WSOP The Big One for One Drop$8,288,001
4/17/2017$25,400 Bellagio Mixed Game High Roller$175,000
4/18/2017$25,400 Bellagio Mixed Game High Roller$77,500
6/4/2017$10,000 WSOP Omaha Hi/Lo Championship$240,290
11/29/2017$100,000 Bellagio Five Diamond Super High Roller$936,000
12/21/2017$25,000 Poker After Dark$50,000
5/27/2018$300,000 Super High Roller Bowl$3,000,000
6/17/2019$10,000 WSOP Seven Card Stud Championship$151,700
7/11/2019$100,000 WSOP High Roller$1,725,838

Doug Polk and His Truck

Poker fans were given a treat when some trash talk on social media between Negreanu and longtime nemesis Polk turned into the closest thing to heads-up-for-rolls we’ve ever seen between two elite players. Negreanu and Polk agreed to play 25,000 hands of $200/$400 No Limit Hold’em online and Polk promised that he was going “back up the truck” and put a financial hurt on Negreanu.

Polk did just that. While it wasn’t a tournament loss, over the four months of action, Polk beat Negreanu at the tables for $1.2 million and hung another ‘L’ on Negreanu’s board.

High Stakes Duel II Punishment

Between April and June, Negreanu squared off with Phil Hellmuth three times on PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel II, a heads up freezeout where the buy-in doubles for each consecutive match. In the first match, which had a $50,000 buy-in, Negreanu had Hellmuth facing a 20-1 chip deficit only to have the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner mount a comeback to take the opening match. A month later, with the buy-in now $100,000, Hellmuth defeated Negreanu in the second match. The third match, which cost $200,000 to enter, also went to Hellmuth and as was his option after winning three straight, Hellmuth exited stage right with $350,000 of Negreanu’s money.

Other Deep Runs

The 10 runner-up finishes, the three losses to Hellmuth, and the seven-figure loss to Polk weren’t the only close calls that Negreanu had in between wins. He came third nine times, fourth three times, and wound up in fifth place in three other events.

He also suffered the indignity of being named the 2019 WSOP Player of the Year in November 2019, only to have the win overturned after a data-entry error erroneously awarded him points in an event he didn’t cash in. Once the numbers were re-run, he wound up in third place.

It wasn’t all bad news for Negreanu. Between the WSOP Europe title and the PokerGO Cup tournament win, he finished in the money 99 times and had total earnings of $21,860,360.