Kid Poker gets off the schneid. You knew it was only a matter of time before a player of Daniel Negreanu's ilk finally broke through to the winner's circle. It happened last night in Las Vegas. It's been a weird, and somewhat tragic time in Sin City this week with a madman stabbing tourists on the Strip and a dark cloud hanging over the poker community with numerous cheating scandals and accusations. And yet, the popular Negreanu shipped a tournament for a hefty score worth $3.3 million.
Daniel Negreanu struggled over the last few years in any tournament with a buy-in of six-figures or more. When he first burst onto the scene in the 1990s, Negreanu was the brash, cocky Canuck from north of the border trying to gain respect among the elites of the game. He was the kid at the table full of grizzled veterans, so the Kid Poker moniker stuck. Of course, that was almost three decades ago. Negreanu might still have boyish good looks, but he's no longer a kid. Now he's the grizzled, bearded veteran throwing down with kids half his age.
Negreanu has been able to modify his game every few years to remain relevant at the tables. Very few players can do that in the internet age when a new wave of players from all over the world cycle through Las Vegas and ready to take on the best of the best. It takes a special skill to constantly work on your game and figure out new strategies while not letting the game pass you by. It happens to the best players in the world. One day, you wake up and you realize you've been left in the dust. Not everyone is like Erik Seidel who continues to dominate the tables no matter what decade it is. But for Kid Poker, he was in the middle of a down cycle. A costly one.
When you gamble for a living, you know sometimes you're gonna take a beating at the tables. It's part of the game. But it's always in defeat where you are truly tested and find your character and internal strength. At the 2022 World Series of Poker, Negreanu burned through $1.1 million of his bankroll. He fired event after event and failed to win a bracelet. But he missed out that one big score that would get him unstuck from the summer.
"The last two years have been really, really difficult mentally because I know my game is better than ever," said Negreanu. "I know how I'm losing. I've been doing this for 30 years. I know when it's me. I know when it's me making mistakes, and it isn't."
Flash forward to early October. The seventh running of the Super High Roller Bowl was in full swing at the Aria Casino in Las Vegas. The elites of the high roller scene were in town for a shot at the mountain of cash. $3.3 million was set aside for the winner. A deep run would get Negreanu back on track. It would get the proverbial monkey off his back. It would eradiate the gloomy clouds overhead. It would also wipe out that disastrous summer at the WSOP.
Orpen Kisacikoglu bubbled the money in fifth place. With four remaining, Nick Petrangelo sat upon the big stack with 2.9M. Negreanu was not far behind with 2.3M, followed by Andrew 'Lucky Chewy' Lichtenberger with 1.5M, and Justin Bonomo was the short stack with 420K. Even with a short stack, Bonomo was still the most dangerous player at the table, but he never got a chance to rebuild his stack. He was picked off in fourth place, which paid out $720,000.
Andrew Lichtenberger hit the bricks in third place. Lucky Chewy earned $1,152,000 for a third-place finish. After his elimination, it was down to a heavyweight bout between Nick Petrangelo and Daniel Negreanu. Sure, even a second-place finish would be a welcomed financial boost for Negreanu, but when you get so close, you want the win. Badly. First place would reset the harmonic convergences in Negreanu's universe. Plus, $3.3 million big ones ain't too shabby either.
Nick Petrangelo banked $2,016,000 for a runner-up finish. Negreanu basked in the warmth of the winner's circle for the first time a high-roller event. He won $3,312,000 million, which marked his second-biggest score of his life.
At the 2014 WSOP, Negreanu was the runner-up at the Big One for One Drop when he lost heads up to Dan Colman. Kid Poker walked away with $8.28 million that day, which is still an insane score for a second-place finish.
$3.3 million is not the biggest single payday of his career, but Negreanu will tell you that this one came at the right time.
"Obviously it feels great," added Negreanu. "I played a pretty close-to-flawless Super High Roller Bowl here and luckily the structure is so deep that it's not just a shove fest. If you play deep structures all the time, I'm going to be one of the favorites each and every time."
Negreanu also earned 600 PokerGo Tour points, and is now ranked #21. Stephen Chidwick holds a slim lead over Phil Ivey at the top of the 2022 PokerGo Tour Leaderboard. Chidwick has 3,095 points vs. 3,083 for Ivey.