KidPoker (2015) Movie Script

You can
tell if you lose this pot,
you can tell the people
back home you got unlucky,
otherwise you'd have won
this tournament for sure.
Shoot, that's
a bad flop for you.
Boy. Now he needs
a queen, ace or a ten.
Everything but.
He's in.
-Good cash, anyway, right?
Not everybody cashes in
the EPT Grand Final in Monaco.
-That's right.
-And you just did.
When you think of poker, most
people think of Daniel Negreanu.
We knew that he was
always going to be a winner.
There was just
something about him.
When I met
Daniel he was already a legend.
Six bracelets, two WPT titles.
His understanding
of the game is peerless.
Daniel is clearly the best
tournament poker player
in the world.
He's seen poker
in all of its different
in the past 20 years and
he's still talking up a storm
while doing it.
I can't even imagine what kind of
legacy he'll have in the game.
He crushes it.
My brother
wrote his own rules.
He went through a phase
where his ego ran riot.
Daniel made bad decisions. He
ended up having to start over.
Daniel was super-driven,
very outspoken.
Very opinionated. That's
what we love about him.
-Universally loved.
-He's usually right.
I can't think of too many people who've
done more for the game of poker today.
He's never turned anybody
down when they needed him.
I think Daniel Negreanu
is the most notable,
most recognised,
most famous poker player...
in the world.
ID telegram: @imrezy
This is where I started.
It's been so long
since I've been here.
To be honest with you, when
the whole thing came calling
as I turned 40, it didn't really sink in.
I mean, I expected it, I'm not gonna lie.
Like, I figured that if I wasn't
inducted, what exactly do I gotta do
to get in this thing then?
So it wasn't a shock.
It didn't really sink in,
till I was up there
and shared what I wanted
to share.
And went through the journey in
my head of how it all started.
I was born in 1974
in Toronto, Canada.
Both my parents
are from Romania.
They came to Canada in about 1967
with five dollars in their pocket
and really just
worked their way up.
They started, like, doing
candy floss at the exhibition.
But my dad was an electrician. Started
to work in the electrical department.
Then they started to buy
houses and rent them out,
and speculate and
all that kind of stuff.
They did a great job of creating
an upper middle-class life
from essentially nothing.
My dad knew very little English.
He knew, in Romanian,
you say, "I'm gonna do something,"
you say, "Okay, fuck." Right?
So he would have, like, these moments
where he'd be working for someone,
and the lady would say, "Okay, I need you
to do this." And he'd say, "Okay, fuck."
And he would keep saying... Eventually,
she's like, "Why do you keep saying that?"
And he's like... He didn't get
that was a bad word in English.
True story!
He almost got in a big fight,
when the husband came home.
"Why do you want
to fuck my wife?!"
My childhood, I would
describe it as
typical European-style
My mother, she cooked,
she cleaned, she was sweet.
She fed everybody.
You came over to the house, you're
like, "I'm not hungry, I'm good."
She'd put a plate of food in front
of you and make you eat it.
My dad was always filling your
cup, make sure you had a drink.
Very hospitable, very loving.
I would say more on
the liberal side. Open.
You know, they talked about
whatever in front of me.
We just had a perfect,
loving family.
-Get that?
My parents were selfless.
They both loved me and my
brother more than, you know,
anyone could imagine and
they were great role models.
My mum, just that generous,
selfless heart,
of just giving.
She'd been through a lot in her
life. She had nine miscarriages.
She had five boys, four girls.
Finally, my brother and me.
It's one of the reasons I think that
she was so smothering and spoiling.
Cos she just cherished us
so much more,
because of all she suffered
to go through to just have us.
And my dad was like
my best friend.
We'd watch TV late.
I'd pretend to fall asleep
so he'd carry me up to my bed.
Now it starts
to scratch?
He taught me how to be
hospitable and generous.
My dad was just that guy.
If we had a party and there was
somebody who wasn't having fun,
my dad could sense it.
He would make a joke.
Crack a joke with them,
liven up the mood.
And I feel like I got a lot
of those traits from my father.
I think of other people and the
rough childhoods they've had,
and I was really blessed.
Well, at school I was a bit of a
know-it-all and a bit of a...
When people would fight me, I didn't care
how big they were, I would fight back.
Maybe some might
consider him a brat.
A troublemaker.
I don't know if it was because
he was always a smaller kid,
so he had to prove
that, he was heard.
My brother always knew
that I had his back.
So he'd let his mouth
get him in trouble.
When I was in the first grade,
Mike was in the sixth grade.
He was six foot tall already.
He was really a big kid.
It's actually part of the reason
I have a big mouth.
He's the big protector guy and he would
absolutely take a bullet for me.
There were numerous times
when I would have to like
settle his battles for him
or just let people know that
Daniel has a bigger brother.
I was a small guy. I'd fight for myself
but having my brother as back-up
certainly made it easier.
The truth is, I was actually
really cocky.
My teachers actually...
they shouldn't have liked me,
but I think they did like me
and appreciate me.
Often, I would come
to class with a pillow.
My brother
found class so boring.
He stood up from his desk,
walked to the back of the class,
laid on the floor
and went to sleep.
And the teacher says,
"You can't do that."
Well, he goes, "I'm tired.
This is boring."
Structure for my brother wasn't
on his priority list.
He did things when
he wanted to do things.
And... it was always difficult
for him to follow the rules.
I was a tough kid. There's a letter
my mum got me for my birthday
a few years ago from when
I was ten years old.
And it reads... This is,
like, five days into school,
cos it starts on September 6th.
"Dear Mrs Negreanu, I am writing as a
follow up to my telephone conversation
with you Tuesday,
September 11, 1984.
I want it clearly understood
that I will not tolerate
Daniel's poor manners
or behaviour.
In light of your own position to
always support and excuse Daniel,
I will have no option but
to remove him from school
should he continue to ignore
the school rules."
I love that one!
It was so funny,
cos that's what she was.
"It wasn't Daniel's fault,
couldn't be."
School wasn't
easy for him.
We couldn't figure out why.
We later found out that he looked
at things in a different way.
I think Daniel's
just misunderstood,
because, instead of
thinking in the box,
he was drawing his own lines and his
lines were a lot bigger than that box.
So they put him
in gifted math class,
to accelerate
his desire to learn.
I was always a numbers geek and it was
just very fun for me to look at numbers.
When I was a kid and I
used to play video games...
I'd play a baseball game or something,
and I wrote down the stats.
I kept logs of it,
so I knew like, you know,
three for 11 is 372...
or 373, pardon me!
I total believe that my brother was
never challenged enough in school.
He found things to be
boring all the time.
He always wanted to find out,
"What's next?"
Sometimes I'd just sit
there with my mother going,
"What are we going
to do with him?"
He doesn't listen.
He does what he wants, but yet,
everything he does
he excels and does well.
How are you supposed to discipline
someone for always doing well?
By the time I was in high school,
I actually did really well.
But then I started to, you know,
go down the other path.
I was going to the pool halls
with my friends Regev and Oren.
Oren and Regev are essentially
like my brothers.
We grew up in Toronto, you know, becoming
men and doing all kinds of bad stuff.
Trouble? Us? Never.
We were really nice.
We got in trouble.
-I asked like that.
-My God!
In about two seconds,
he did nothing.
What did you do that for?
I thought you wanted everything.
No, his hair,
not his eyebrows!
-Hey, man! Look at my eyebrow!
-It's cool.
Daniel, you trust me so far.
Oren and Regev?
Brothers from another mother.
We were always like the clowns of
the class, making everybody laugh.
He was the entertainer
of the group, by far.
But tomorrow I'll be better.
Tomorrow, you'll look the same.
You know, it was all
about just having fun.
Not doing bad stuff,
but just doing funny stuff.
We didn't really like school.
Unfortunately, the pool hall
was really close to school.
So it made it really easy for us, before
we could even drive, to make that trip.
It was a place
to hang out.
After school or on
the weekends, evenings,
they would just go congregate
and play billiards.
And he got really good
at playing snooker.
And he made some money
on that felt as well.
We were gambling
for five bucks and drink
and, you know, the table charge,
so it wasn't like big gambling,
but it was where I was entered
into that world where I met
some people who played poker and
I sort of got introduced to it.
I thought it was all luck, but then I
noticed the same guys keep winning
and the same guys keep losing.
I was like, "Interesting."
So I went to the library
to get a book on the game,
and I was like, "You don't
play king-seven off-suit?"
It was such a shock to me,
cos I had no idea.
And then me, Regev and Oren, we'd
play in the basement just for fun.
When he started, we knew that he was
always gonna be really good at it.
When he puts a target,
he'll do anything to get it.
Playing poker, you saw
there was a gleam in his eye.
I think that's when
a light went off
and Daniel started hosting more
games at our home in the basement.
He'd have his friends over and you'd see
people coming in and out of the house.
And some people would have smiles
and some people would leave
being really upset because
he would just clean them out.
He made so much money
it was like a clinic.
And, even to this day,
it makes me laugh!
From there, we escalated to
some of the private clubs.
And they were all older guys. They
were in their 40s, 50s and beyond.
So I was the young kid.
I was "Kid Poker".
After about two, three months of
playing with this regular crew,
I started to become
a winner myself.
Something changed.
School didn't become
his priority any more.
He does well when he's there.
But attendance was a problem.
Well, to be honest,
my mother was not supportive
of what I was doing
as a teenager.
My dad was. He was like on
the black market as a kid.
He was kind of a hustler. He knew I'd
be okay. My mother was more concerned.
She said, "Daniel, forget about
the poker. You go to school!"
We were always taught
to believe you go to school,
you follow the rules,
you get a good job.
And you work and you're
gonna have a good life.
But for Daniel that
wasn't the case.
My brother wrote his own rules.
I really started to take it seriously
when I was playing in charity casinos,
Monday to Friday, noon to eight.
We'd play $10, $20
limit hold'em,
and I was making
about $44 an hour.
You know, my teacher, he'd be trying
to tell me what to do and I'm like,
"At 18, 19, I make
more money than you do.
Why would I listen
to you? Pff!"
I felt such a passion for poker and
I felt like this was my calling
that I didn't even finish high school,
despite the fact that I loved school.
In the beginning, my mother was totally
against my brother playing poker,
for the simple reason
that it wasn't a career.
It wasn't received well
by her peers.
My mother was on the phone
with one of her friends.
Her friend said, "I don't want
my son doing what yours does."
And this is a guy
who sold car stereos
out of the back of a truck that
were stolen, as well as cocaine.
And my mother, being
fierce, the way she was,
she let her have it
and she defended my brother.
When my mother saw that
her friend put Daniel down,
that was it.
And we knew. Then, after that
point, my mother was proud to say,
"My son, he's a poker player
and he's good."
So I remember that moment,
thinking to myself,
"I want to make my mother
proud of what I do."
It was interesting. After my brother
would come home from playing poker,
my mother would
always ask, "Daniel..."
Or she'd say, "Danielle.
How d'you do today?"
He's like, "Mummy, you know, I did
okay. I was up, I was down, I was even."
But every now and then, he would
just like, he would take money.
He would have like a fat stack of cash
and he would throw it on the ground.
He'd say, "Mummy, look.
What is that?"
And she would look and
she'd go, "Wooh-hoo!"
And she'd have to pick it all up and
sit there and count it, one at a time.
I think that made him laugh,
just feel good because
my mother, growing up,
she never had much of anything.
And then my brother
would come home in a car,
a Honda Prelude, that he won
in a poker game.
So my mother said, "Daniel,
where did you get this car?"
"Don't worry about it,
Mummy. I just won it at poker."
So she just looked at him.
So he would come home with
like stacks of cash, cars...
"How do you get all this?"
"Mummy, I play poker."
My brother started touring.
Going to different places,
different events,
playing different
poker tournaments.
Okay, let me
put the cake on light.
Our dad was starting to
get a little ill at the time.
But still wanted my brother...
to go live his dream.
-Cheers, Daddy.
-Cheers, Daniel.
My dad was a big, strong guy.
He was a boxer as a teenager.
In good health. You know, he worked as
an electrician till he was 60-something.
And then, all of a sudden, everything
about his health just kind of faded.
I was in Windsor playing poker.
I remember getting a call that
my dad was really, really sick
and that he might, you know,
he might go.
We got in the car and we were going to
drive back, but the roads were so icy.
And I saw cars in the ditches left and
right. And I didn't have a nice car.
I'm like, "We'll never make it.
It's a three-hour drive."
So we turned back and we said, "Okay,
we'll go in the morning when it's safer."
On the way back, halfway there,
I got the call that
he'd passed away.
So I wasn't there, you know,
for the last moments.
We lost our icon.
This is my father's big nose.
He was everything to us.
Look who's talking!
We took it all really hard.
My dad was my superman.
I had to separate myself somewhat from
the father that I knew and this, you know,
shell of who he was
when he died.
My brother
was only 21 years old.
He was still young. Nothing
was concrete in his life yet.
But poker was there
and I think it gave him that outlet
and ability to express himself
and just... focus on something
other than the pain we
were suffering as a family.
My father always made
the best of things.
He always believed in us kids.
Whatever we did, he goes,
"Mike, Daniel,
do what you have to do,
but be the best."
Smile. Let's see your nice,
beautiful teeth.
-My beautiful teeth?
-Yeah, smile.
-Okay, if you want me to smile.
Daniel was always driven.
And with my father's passing,
I think it gave him
even more focus
on being successful
at what was his passion.
I remember,
as a teenager, watching
the old ESPN footage
of the World Series of Poker
and seeing Phil Hellmuth win and
being like, "That's so cool."
Just these old-school gamblers, they
had stories. They were so interesting.
Guys like Eskimo Clark and
Devilfish and all these guys.
Like Sammy Farha. They came
from different worlds.
I wanted to experience that.
So he made some money
here, a couple of grand,
and figured, "You know what?
I'm going to give it a shot."
My mother said, "Daniel,
where are you going?"
"Mummy, I'm going to Vegas.
I'm going to make it."
I remember when I first came to
Las Vegas, I was on the Strip
and I thought it was
like a fantasy land.
I remember thinking to myself,
"This is where I belong."
I went down to the Horseshoe,
where all the history happened.
I had, like, maybe
a $3,000 bankroll.
And, about 24 hours later,
I had no bankroll.
I left Vegas feeling distraught.
I went back to Toronto
and after a few days
kind of said, "Okay,
I'm going to rebuild."
Had some friends who
loaned me a bit of money,
so I could play ten,
20 limit hold'em games.
And when I had my
next bankroll of 3,000,
I made another trip to Vegas.
And, very similar story.
Five or six trips,
I went to Las Vegas,
I went with a bankroll
and left without one.
There were times my brother
came back from Vegas broke.
But... he had that desire.
He says, "I'm going back.
They're not going to beat me."
what I would do is,
there would be charter flights on
Thursdays and Sundays back to Toronto.
On Wednesday night,
if I was short on money,
I would play all night till Thursday
and, if I had enough money to stay,
I would stay till Sunday and then
again I'd do the same thing.
By Saturday night, if I was short
of money, I'd play all night
and if I didn't have any money,
I'd go home on the Sunday flight.
I basically got a place
at Budget Suites.
It had a TV, it had a bed,
it had a kitchen and a bathroom.
You know, basic needs.
And, after a while, when I would go back
to Toronto, I knew I was coming back,
so I would just keep it and I started
to keep more and more stuff there.
In the younger years, my mum went
down to see my brother in Vegas.
Make sure he was fed, clothed.
Make sure that he had family
around him and good support.
Daniel was alone.
He didn't know anybody.
I felt better because I could
always keep tabs on him,
knowing that my mother
was there.
She just enjoyed
being close to me.
She'd cook for me, do my laundry and
all that stuff that she wanted to do.
I never made her.
That's what she wanted to do.
My mother supported me
through it all.
I remember a very, very, very important
story early in my development,
where I was playing
in a seven-hand game.
It was like three
in the morning.
And I went broke. I lost my last
chips. I went to the bathroom.
Washed my face,
washed my hands.
Came out. All of them were gone.
It was the first time in
my life where I realised,
like, "My God!
I was the sucker."
They were playing because of me.
In Toronto, I was a bull.
I just pushed people around.
But in Vegas, they're like, "We've seen
these home-town heroes come and go.
They're a dime a dozen." So I needed to
learn how to have a better table image.
How to change the way that I was
playing. Not just be 100% bull.
I had to tone it down a
little bit. I learned a lot.
From there, things started
to change for me.
I was playing in a satellite, to play in
my first-ever World Series of Poker event.
Me and Todd Brunson got heads
up. I got lucky and beat him.
Then he said, "Why don't I take a piece
of you in the tournament tomorrow?"
I wasn't even going to play,
cos that was all my money.
But I was like, "Well, if Todd Brunson
thinks I can win, maybe I should play."
My goal was just really to enjoy
the experience and maybe cash.
My first table was, you know,
a murderers' row at the time.
There was Eric Seidel,
Humberto Brenes,
Men Nguyen, Johnny Chan,
Dan Harrington.
And I remember bluffing
Johnny Chan and thinking,
"Woah! He didn't catch me."
And then I caught Erik Seidel
trying to bluff me.
So, in that moment, I was like, "You know what?
I can play with these guys. I can do it."
I was dating Todd Brunson. Daniel
makes it to the final table.
And Todd comes home and he says,
"You know, I took
a piece of this kid,
but I don't really know his name... Daniel
Niagara, Daniel N, Daniel something.
And you're going to be down
at the Horseshoe playing anyway,
so could you watch him
and keep an eye on him,
and make sure whatever he cashes out
that you get the money from him?"
And I said, "Sure."
So I was playing cash games and I'd
run over and see how he's doing.
Then I go play cash again and
run over and see how he's doing.
And then ninth place left,
eighth place left,
seventh place left,
sixth place left, fifth place.
By fourth place, I said, "Okay, I'm just
going to quit my cash game and watch him,
cos this is ridiculous." Cos I'm actually
excited for him and nervous for him,
not even knowing
who the man is.
I ended up heads up against
a kid named Dominic Bourke,
who was so much better than
I was at pot limit hold'em.
I got in with like a coin-flip
situation. It was 50-50.
I didn't even see the card.
It was fuzzy.
I looked at the crowd. I knew most
of them were cheering for me.
I saw them raise their arms,
so I must have won.
And I fell to my knees.
It was just surreal because it
felt like I didn't deserve it yet,
it was too early in the game.
My first event
and I won already.
I walked right up to him and said,
"Hi, I'm Jennifer. Nice to meet you.
I gave him a big hug.
And he was so excited.
We went to the bar.
We went for beers that night and then
every night for like a week straight,
and we became really,
really close friends.
I never did get the money from
him like I was supposed to!
But he paid Todd the next day
and that's how it all started.
We were kind of inseparable
after that.
At the time, I was the youngest
player ever to win a bracelet.
And I remember in that moment feeling
like I've sort of arrived, if you will.
I was definitely emerging right
around that time in my career.
The poker world
wasn't that big back then.
A lot of the big players I was playing
with, they didn't know Daniel.
A World Series of Poker
bracelet's big,
but in the cash games, it's more
about being good in the cash games.
She was always playing in super-high limit
games. She would let me watch her play.
I would lick my chops and go, "I wish
I could play in this game one day."
As far as his skill,
he was probably there to play,
but as far as his bankroll,
he wasn't in the shape
to play in those games.
And Daniel basically
made bad decisions.
I was kinda crazy.
If I had $10,000,
I'd put it on the table.
She's like, "You need some
bankroll management skills."
One night, I think
he had $30,000 to his name.
And he was so drunk,
he couldn't even walk.
And he came up to me and said,
"I'm gonna play in this game."
And I'd take him
aside and I said,
"Daniel, you have $30,000.
You cannot play in this game.
It's one buy-in." I said, "If you
lose a couple of hands, you're done."
And it was like me hitting
my head against the wall,
because he... he wasn't
going to listen to me.
So he sat down and played.
And he ended up going broke
and having to start over again.
There was a lot
of doubt at that point.
Months of really being
introspective and digging deeper,
and saying like, you know, "What
do I got to do to make it work?
Can I? Am I capable?
Am I good enough?"
You know, people when they
first are starting poker
make bad decisions.
He was one of them.
I'm not throwing stones
in a glass house,
because I made bad decisions when
I first started out playing.
So I tried to give him a little
bit of wisdom from what I knew,
from the experience
that I had in the past.
And he listened.
I learned a lot.
She's a great player.
Really, really smart.
Really intuitive.
And just learned a lot about
life too and sort of balance.
I think he probably
played poker
80, 90 hours a week.
Some crazy amount of hours, grinding,
trying to build back a bankroll.
Daniel put in enough hard work to get
everybody's respect and he did work hard.
Mirage is where I sweat blood and
tears, if you will, really learning.
But I enjoyed it.
I had so much confidence
that those were just
character-building moments for me.
Cos I'd wake up in the morning
ready to go.
He learned a lot
of lessons, but he did learn.
And the good ones do learn.
My first event that I'd played
on television was in 1999.
It was the US Poker
And I got heads up
against John Bonetti,
who was a legend,
you know, at the time.
It's going to be a very exciting
showdown to see who can take it here.
And a clash of eras.
John Bonetti's 71 years old.
He has a lot of respect for Danny,
one of the young guns coming up.
Going into it, I wasn't
thinking about the TV table.
The night before, I thought
about what I was going to wear
and it was going to be my patented
tracksuit which was like, you know,
half white, half black
with the Nike hat.
I was like a mini Andre Agassi
lookalike type thing.
And really green to it all,
but very comfortable, oddly.
Cameras didn't bother me.
I felt very comfortable
under the lights.
-Want to look at 'em?
-Well, I didn't call yet.
Well, I ain't got no tens.
He takes it back!
The gamesmanship here!
Do I want to flip?
Let's give him a hand!
Attaboy, Danny. Go ahead.
John Bonetti looks like he's trying
to goad him into the final showdown.
And he's going in!
He's going to play
the low percentage
because he has a feeling
about the card.
And the feeling is correct!
Danny Negreanu
takes the spade!
He will take a stranglehold
on this tournament.
And it's a full boat.
Danny Negreanu gets it done. Hoses
the show with a full house.
So this 25 year old
has got $210,000
and is on top of
the poker world.
Bonetti's so good a player
that I decided
this is going to be my best
shot at winning the tournament.
Luckily a spade hit and,
you know, it's all over now.
Then people started
to take him seriously.
He knew he was going to be a staple in
the poker world. He was here to stay.
When I met Daniel,
he was already a legend.
He had already won a bracelet.
It was in Atlantic City.
I think I was 23, 22.
I'm 38 now, so maybe
that was 15 years ago.
I always would be asking him
questions about certain hands.
He always gives
an honest answer.
Right away, we became
pretty friendly.
Phil Ivey,
Allen Cunningham.
Also John Juanda.
The four of us.
We're the only really young guns that were
playing in these tournaments at the time.
There was not people under 30
and we were in our early 20s.
So we grew together, you
know, we learned together.
We'd go to dinners,
we'd talk poker.
Every day we felt like we were
learning. That was a good time.
You don't think about those
times while they're happening.
You look back on your
life and you think that
was a good time.
We had a lot of fun back then.
Daniel, obviously, made a name for
himself right in the beginning.
There was just something
about him. It's unexplainable.
Super-driven and
you just kind of knew
that he was going to be
the guy in poker.
We knew as a family that
Daniel was going to succeed.
It wasn't a question if he was going
to, it was just a matter of when.
In the Romanian culture, when
a child turns one year old,
there's a little ceremony we have...
the child's placed in a high chair.
And in that high chair
there's like a little tray.
And on that tray
is various items.
Those items can range from books
to tools, money.
And whatever items your child
picks, that's their future.
The first thing my brother
grabbed was gold and money.
You can't deny your destiny.
By the end of 1999, I had a really good
year. I won the US Poker Championship.
Won a bunch in the cash games and I
had myself about 300,000 in a bag,
covered in dirty laundry,
with a cheque on one side that
said $210,000 Taj Mahal winner,
going through the airport
with that.
Brought it back to Vegas
and said, "Okay.
As of January 1st the year 2000,
this is where I live."
I was basically
a cash game grinder.
I was playing two and 400. I moved
up to three and six, four and eight,
all the way up till
four and 8,000.
So even before the poker boom, before the
WPT and the World Series being on TV,
I built up a significant bankroll, playing
in the biggest games in the world.
Ultimately, I finally
built up enough money
so I could play in the big game
and got to play with Jennifer.
But cash felt more like work.
Going to the office, put in
your hours, get your pay cheque.
Tournaments was the dessert,
the gravy.
Whether I had a lot
of money or not,
that was secondary.
I loved the game so much.
I loved tournaments so much because there
was a beginning, middle and an end,
and there was a trophy at the end
and it was like an accomplishment.
After my bracelet in 1998,
I was like, "Well, this is easy! I'm just
gonna win one every year and whatever."
But then I went year after year,
and there was quite a big gap in terms
of my first and my second bracelet.
During that period, you know,
I went through some struggles.
I was learning to play
a lot of the games.
I was a mixed game player.
I've always been.
I was playing high limits and
going through the ups and downs
and battles with the confidence.
That's always something you're going to
face, especially as you move up in levels
and play against better
and better opponents.
You ask yourself,
"Am I better than them,
or is this my limit?
Can I not push any further?"
And so, not wining
a bracelet for years,
makes you feel like, "I don't know.
Maybe there's something I'm doing wrong."
And it was just a really
nice relief, if anything,
to win that second
bracelet in 2003.
I first came across Daniel
when the WPT first came on TV.
And he was kind of
on the fringes.
And then that summer,
I think, it was 2004,
the World Series of Poker,
it was the first year
where I think they aired the final
table of every single event.
And, of course, that was an
amazing World Series for Daniel.
Lately, I've been
coming second, third
and that gets frustrating.
You start to wonder.
I get John Juanda needling
me all the time.
"You don't know how to finish!
Your short-handed game's no good!"
Where's he at? Yeah!
It's like a relief. I felt like I was
going to win a bracelet this year.
-This is not garbage.
-This is nice. See the bracelet?
I'm here this month
to win bracelets.
I'm here to win that
Best All-round Player award.
That's been my goal and
I feel like I'm halfway there.
Building off the back of that,
I think it was in the very
next season of the WPT,
I think he won like
two events back to back.
Starting out
in third chip position
with 950,000 in chips,
is 30-year-old Daniel Negreanu,
another superstar
in the poker world,
but has yet to claim
a WPT title.
Let's see if he can
do it here tonight.
I got a phone call. It's Daniel.
He says, "Mike,
I made a final table.
Are you gonna come?"
I'm like, "Absolutely."
He was in the zone.
There was nothing you could
do that day to beat him.
-60 to call.
-That's a very nice lay down.
Look at this!
Daniel shows him a queen.
Yes, he does.
But what a little toy
play Daniel made there.
Putting doubt in the mind of Josh.
You can read it on his face.
He thinks he laid
down the best hand.
This is a great value bet
by Daniel Negreanu here.
-The flop master, everybody.
-The flop master!
Me and my mother,
we were just ecstatic
to watch him in his element.
He was playing so good and just
to watch people cheer for him,
that was like, "People are
cheering for my little brother."
It was just an amazing day.
-You're all in?
-What is he waiting on?
-I call.
-Well, he does call.
-He was being dramatic.
Of course he's gonna call it!
-You got aces versus kings.
-Two aces.
-They're very close in chips.
-Nice slow roll.
-Yeah! That's a good one.
-Well, a jack comes off.
Right now, David Williams
must catch a king.
This thing could be over.
-It is over!
-It is.
Daniel Negreanu
is our champion.
He has done it!
Finally! Yes!
Yeah! Well, you see
the jubilation in Daniel.
A few months later, a week
before the final event of 2004,
a gentleman by the
name of David Pham
had passed me in the
Card Player of the Year race.
So I needed out of
400 players to come
in the top nine in the
World Poker Tour event there.
Not only did I make
the top nine,
I did so with the biggest
chip lead in history.
-Nearly $7 million in chips!
He's the man in poker
right now. Daniel Negreanu.
He's the Tournament Player
of the Year
and he's got a commanding
chip lead here.
He'll be the man to beat
for sure tonight.
-I'm all in.
-I knew you'd do that.
She's going all in.
There's no friends on the
green felt, that's for sure.
Right back into the chip
leader's face.
Okay, he's going lay it down.
A nice re-raise there
by Jennifer.
You keep trying that,
little girl.
Just a tremendous over-raise
by Kid Poker, Daniel Negreanu.
$4 million and I can tell
you, folks,
when you get hit with
a re-raise like that,
your two fives shrivel up
like a spider on a hot stove.
-And it's gonna work.
-You're not gonna like it.
Daniel shows him
the three, folks!
Now that is like a kidney blow if
you're Humberto Brenes right now.
That is the needle
3.4 million.
I've never been able
to say that before.
-That's so fun.
-Okay, you can have it!
Can you make any suggestions?
How about...4.2 million?
That's gonna set both
his opponents all in.
This power poker being demonstrated
by Daniel Negreanu right now.
Daniel knows he'll get
paid off on the turn.
He's assuming Humberto
puts him on a draw.
He's gonna bet the four of a kind.
550,000. Humberto quickly calls him,
thinking ace high might
be the best hand.
-My gosh!
-Look at Humberto.
You can just feel the air going
out of his balloons there.
Going for the big... That's a million
he's setting out there, folks.
Humberto's going
all in with him.
A major mistake here
by Humberto.
So here we go.
-Nearly $6 million in this pot.
-Daniel clenches the fist.
He can taste his second World
Poker Tour title here right now.
-Here's the turn.
-Well, a six comes off.
Daniel doesn't like that card.
He knows a five will win
the pot right now for Humberto,
as well as an eight.
Here comes the river.
-Daniel Negreanu has done it!
He is due in the elite company of Gus
Hanson, Howard Lederer and Eric Lindgren,
to capture his second
World Poker Tour title.
Look at this, Kid Poker
going into the stands!
That's two, baby! That's two!
The leading money winner
on the World Poker Tour
gets a big hug from
Mrs Negreanu, his mom.
Gotta be so proud.
It's like just the perfect way
to go out
and end like an amazing year
in 2004.
He won his WPT titles
and he won Player of the Year
and clearly established himself
as one of, if not the best,
tournament poker players
in the world.
My mother was
just amazed at how well
Daniel's career progressed.
She was my brother's biggest
supporter. His biggest fan.
It's funny that my mother chooses, like
when I get heads up, to go to the buffet.
My mother she prepares
me every day.
She brings me a lunch.
She's really supportive.
She's out here for the month
to make my life easier.
And all that other stuff
that seems insignificant,
is so much more important
than people give it credit for.
Eventually, she was coming so often
that I bought my mum a house,
like five minutes down the road.
She was there for him.
Every morning,
she had to make his lunch.
My brother was probably
the only guy...
playing who brought
a brown bag of lunch
to the poker table.
It's amazing because...
he was doing well and
there was an instance where
Mummy gave Phil Ivey a lunch.
And, after that,
he was doing well, too.
So it became a little joke,
where like...
"Mummy's got to make
everybody lunch,
cos if she does it,
then we're all gonna do well."
-What did your mum make us for dinner?
-A little of everything.
I remember being 31 years old
and she made me some soup,
and I got the spoon and
I'm putting it to my mouth,
and she blows on it.
I'm like, "Mum, I'm 31!
You gotta stop." She's like,
"You're always gonna be my baby."
Daniel adored his mother.
The relationship
was like that.
There was so much respect there.
And she was always
rooting for him.
It was just an amazing thing
to watch.
There was one time,
she's driving on the freeway
and she looks up and she sees my
brother's face on a big billboard.
And she called me. She says,
"Mike, Daniel's face is all over.
It's on the highway."
I said, "I know, Mummy."
We always knew it was going
to be okay.
He made it happen.
I have six World Series Poker
Two World Poker Tour titles. Number
one on the all-time money list.
I won the World Series Poker
Player of the Year twice.
There's so many moments
that I treasure,
but the ones that I love the most are
like when it's bottom of the ninth
and you've just gotta do it.
In 2013, it looked
like Matthew Ashton had
the World Series Poker Player
of the Year locked up.
In the Main Event, I came 25th and
it wasn't quite enough to pass him.
I had one more shot.
So I jumped in late
into the High Roller.
And I was in an interesting situation
because I needed to come in eighth
to win Player of the Year.
There was a money bubble at nine,
so two guys were just folding.
I'm like, " You know? I just
want to move up a couple of spots
and win the Player of the Year,
but, at the same time,
there's a bracelet on the line.
Those two guys
eventually went broke,
so it just worked out
like a Hollywood script.
We're down to eight.
Daniel, the extreme
short stack.
Negreanu at risk.
Another eight!
-They'll chop it.
-Daniel survives.
Staying alive! Staying alive!
And they're racing for
Daniel's tournament life.
Ace or a king
for all the cheese!
I feel it coming.
I feel the mojo. Ace or a king.
-Negreanu at risk.
-Ace in the flop! Mojo found!
Daniel in party mode.
There may be no one worse to
lose to than Daniel Negreanu.
You're pretty bad.
It's not a ten and not what the
rest of the table wanted to see.
Five-time bracelet winner Daniel
Negreanu with more than a million chips!
What a run he's enjoying.
He was all in like five minutes
ago for seven big blinds!
Not resting on his newly won
Player of the Year laurels,
Negreanu out for
bracelet number six.
Negreanu spikes it.
Seiver pays the price.
Negreanu's charmed
tournament run continues,
as he knocks out Timothy Adams.
Gruissem comes up empty and
will fall in third place.
See you at the bar in a bit.
Bracelet number six
is coming into focus.
All in, snap call,
just like that.
Negreanu a strong favourite
to win this hand
and bracelet number six.
Queen, nine, deuce.
No help to Villa-Lobos.
Turn card, king of diamonds,
brings Daniel one card
closer to victory.
Trey of clubs and
Daniel Negreanu
completes a remarkable comeback
to win bracelet number six!
Well, I said I was
going to do it.
So I was the little itty-bitty
short stack at the final table.
But I won it anyway.
I think if you had to identify
Daniel's unique talent
or what he is best at,
it's clearly
reading situations, reading people
and eliciting information from them.
We know that Daniel's a
chatterbox and loves to talk,
and I believe he does that because
he wants the table to be lively
and he wants a good atmosphere at the
table, but the by-product of that
is he's able to gain
information from people.
Okay, friendly game.
Lots of fun stuff
happening on that board.
I learned many years ago I hate to
fold, so I don't fold any more.
Feeling comfortable right now.
You can tell by my energy. Relaxed.
What does that usually mean? What?
Hey! Soon as I start yapping
he goes in.
Man! Woo! Scare card.
-Show one card.
-I'll show you one after you fold.
How about if I gave you $1,000
out of my pocket?
Even if you gave me a million,
I wouldn't show you.
A million?!
I love that bet.
That's beautiful!
I don't know what you have but I just
think that was a really good move.
Whatever next?
You know, I tell myself
jokes sometimes.
They're appropriate for TV.
That make me laugh.
I told you I have three threes
and you just don't care?
Well, if I talk too much, I
might let you know what I have.
Don't ever talk to Daniel!
He's always fishing for
information. Do not give it to him.
He's looking very GQ. He's got
the sweater, he's got the shirt.
The pants are pressed. Have you
got bronzer on, the whole deal?
It's really hard
to be bluffing.
-You're special though.
-That's what I've been told.
You live in Hollywood now?
-You live in Hollywood now?
You've learned a lot from
those guys in Hollywood.
-Yeah, it was very good.
I was reading the whole thing,
the whole move.
It was very good. I was going
to give you a standing ovation.
I think you had
a good hand, Eugene.
-I think you had a good hand.
-That's a good reading.
Sick, right?
Obviously, he's very smart with
math, but he's a people person
and he knows how to figure out
what somebody has.
It's a tough, tough, tough
decision. I'm gonna need a minute.
Why would you raise me now?
I guess you would, yeah.
Do you have fives?
-Seven is my card today.
-You don't have seven. Don't believe it.
I fold, but did
you have ace, king?
You had like jacks or queens
or something like that?
Is that what you have?
With a spade?
Is that what you have? Jacks or
queens with spade? I got it!
He smiled! That's what he's got!
I'm smiling because
you are talking.
I love to talk.
I don't shut up.
Just keep bluh, bluh, bluh. Diarrhoea
of the mouth. Can't help myself.
Call, because you're Negreanu.
This is fun. I love
having fun playing poker.
He basically takes
his emotion out of it
and plays almost robotic.
Obviously, he's talkative,
but I'm sure while
he's talking
50,000 questions are going off
in his brain,
as he's trying to figure
stuff out.
And he's very, very
good at that.
And he does not stereotype.
He always gives people
the benefit of the doubt,
until they prove him wrong.
What Daniel does
is pretty simple.
He says you get
into someone's head,
understand how they
approach the game
and you play their tendencies.
It's just hard to master.
Traudt check raises all in!
I had you on the flop
and you got me on the turn.
He's right again.
I had you, but then that card changed
your leader. I'm pretty sure, right?
You had like some kind of a nine
in your hand, right? King, nine?
King, nine.
-Take it.
-Daniel folds!
-You're a sick human.
-King, nine?
King, nine.
I did it again! Yes!
I think the most valuable aspect
of being a great poker player
is self-awareness, understanding
how people perceive you.
Cos once you know how
they perceive you,
you'll know how they're
going to react to it.
When you're playing poker, you have
an idea of how this person thinks,
what kinds of cards they
play, are they tight or loose,
so you can pinpoint them more.
But at the core, how do
you figure out those things?
What kind of person is this?
And that comes from understanding how
they think and now they view the world.
And that's shaped
by their upbringing.
Where they're from, what
they've done for a living,
how long they've been in poker.
My brother,
when he was younger,
wanted to become an actor.
And he was able to sing and act,
and portray the character
And acting was his first love and I
think that's where he gets it now,
where he can change himself and
become that person or that character.
I love nothing more
than being under the lights
on centre stage playing
the final tables.
Because, innately, I already feel like,
"Okay, this is my comfort zone."
Daniel Negreanu!
He's able to like take different
situations and make the best of it
and become that person or
think how that person thinks.
And then he uses it
against them.
Even if I was a little nervous,
they're way more nervous than I am.
Because this is something I've been doing
for so many years. Been there, done that.
So I use that to my advantage,
if anything.
I try to make them
even more uncomfortable,
put them under even
more pressure.
Tough one? Close.
Talked him into it.
He could sell ice to an Eskimo.
I can sense when people
are afraid, when they're happy.
I can sense when people are intimidated
or when they're trying to push me around.
There's no tangible way
to explain it,
other than, you know,
I feel it.
Daniel's worked out he
doesn't have the best hand
but he does think he can
get Shlomi to fold,
hence the bluff raise.
I figure you've got aces
or kings.
Can I say that or
is that illegal?
I can say what he has
but not what I have? Okay.
-I'm thinking aces or kings.
-You think right.
Daniel really pulled the
trigger correctly on that one.
And Shlomi's now thinking, "If
you've read me for aces or kings,
surely you can beat aces
or kings. I have to fold."
If I show one,
do I have to show all?
-Okay. I can show one?
I can show one if I want to? I
don't feel like it. Never mind.
I don't have a good one
to show.
Great start for Daniel.
Almost a double float there and
then a bluff on the river,
which got the job done.
Negreanu wasted no time pulling out
the tricks from his play book.
-Ace or kings looked good?
-Of course.
I'm just saying that's what I thought
he had, but not that I could beat it.
If his understanding
of the game is peerless,
you don't get to be the World
Series Player of the Year
and so high up on
the Global Poker Index
without being
astonishingly talented.
I've got about eight years
when I've won a million plus,
so I'm proud of the fact that I've
been able to put up winning years
every year, despite the game
evolving and changing.
I'm always able to
stay one step ahead.
That's the great thing
about poker is that
every time you sit down
you can get better.
You can always play a hand a little
bit better or a bit differently
and make a situation better
and you just have to work at it.
Online poker's
changed the game immensely.
All of a sudden, a lot of
players got really, really good.
When I first came into the game,
if you didn't know somebody,
you could assume
they were not right,
because if you didn't know them,
that means they hadn't been playing.
Now, you'll sit with a kid who looks
like he's barely old enough to be there
and, meanwhile, he's got 20 million hands
of experience in the last six months.
You know? And he's really,
really good.
So the anonymity factors in and
it's a different playing field now,
where the average player
is just much better.
They're playing a lot more
close to what's optimum.
I think the reason why Daniel
maintained that level of success
and actually even gotten better
is because he's willing to
adapt to all of these
young guns coming in
and all of these different, new
theories in poker. He appreciates that,
you know, just because
you're good five years ago,
doesn't mean you're
gonna be good now,
and you really have to keep
up to date with everything.
Part of what I like to do when
I play is use my people skills.
That's not really an option
online, but what I found fun
was just sort of like focusing on the
fundamentals and the math and the stats,
and the numbers, cos I've
always been a numbers geek.
So definitely took some adjusting,
understanding a little better.
Like, "I can't get away with
doing all my sloppy stuff,
because I can't get a read later
in the hand where I can, you know,
use that to my advantage."
I decided to relearn a lot of the stuff
that these kids are learning and adjust.
And also just realising,
"What areas do I need to improve
on?" And being honest with myself.
There was a time when I went
back to playing on Poker Stars
for quite a while, where I was grinding
in the big cash games... 100, 200.
People were like, "He'll
never succeed!" Whatever.
It wasn't about them. It was about me
testing myself and pushing myself.
I've been playing this game a long time
and I do feel like I've reached my peak.
Cos I've combined
all the sort of moves
with some wisdom and patience
and discipline.
I see some kids doing things
and I'm like...
"I might have done that 15 years
ago, but I know better now."
He grew up
and now he's... more wise.
He's confident. Although
he does have his faults.
He's a little arrogant.
He always has to be right.
I remember one time,
we were playing
in the same game.
And I got beat
by a straight flush.
Daniel said I should
have bet on the turn.
And I said, "I did
bet on the turn."
And he said, "No, you didn't."
I said, "Yes, I did. I played the hand.
I bet on the turn."
I know what was going through
my mind during the hand.
He says, "I'll bet you $20,000
that you didn't bet on the turn."
I said, "Alright, Daniel,
we'll bet this."
And Phil Ivey was also in
the game, so we called Phil
and asked him about this hand, and
Phil said, "Yes, she bet on the turn."
So it was like sweet!
Finally, you know,
I won an argument.
I don't think we ever settled
on that bet, by the way.
I might have to call him up.
He went through a phase
where his kind of ego ran riot.
I do like Floyd. This move.
Check, check, check.
He's comparing himself
to Floyd Mayweather now.
He was always a presence
cos he's always very loud.
Spade, spade! I win! Sweet!
There's no way you can win now.
He's a huge personality. You will
know if you're at a table with him.
You'll probably know if
you're in the same room as him.
-Cards good, flop good.
He's very one for the rules.
I remember,
we were playing in a
limit hold'em event.
It must have been about 2000,
I think.
There were about 17 of us left.
The WSOP had just introduced this
new rule which meant that your bum
had to be in your seat
when the last card was dealt.
And I remember, I was playing
at the same table as Daniel,
and my legs were tired,
so I stood up at my seat,
and I was stretching. Literally,
all I was doing was stretching.
I hadn't gone anywhere.
I was stretching.
And the dealer dealt the last card
and I saw Daniel nod to the dealer.
Like going, you know, because
my bum wasn't in my seat right.
And suddenly the dealer
mucked my hand
in the big blind and
I just freaked out.
I said, "What are you doing?
This is just stupid.
You've got to use some
common sense here. It's mad."
At the time, I thought,
"What a tosser!"
I thought, "God, you snake!" But then
I realised, actually, he was right.
He was just playing by the
rules and it was a stupid rule.
Well, my big mouth
gets me in trouble on
a regular basis and
I'm okay with that.
He's kind of controversial
in some ways, Daniel.
He often gets himself into situations.
He's not universally liked.
I stay away from controversy,
but Daniel was so vocal
about how he felt about certain
players and their behaviours,
myself included.
In a way, I kind of respected
him for that,
except when it was aimed at me.
So there was definitely
a couple of incidences where
you know, we didn't see
eye to eye.
One was where he was judgmental
of my personal behaviour
that had absolutely nothing
to do with him.
And, you know, I didn't believe,
and I still don't believe,
that he had any right
to voice his opinion
in front of other people about
something that was personal in my life.
Sometimes I say things where I do cross
the line. I'm like, "Okay. Yeah, "
But you'll do that when you
ride the line as often as I do.
Sometimes you're gonna fall over
on the one side or the other.
In terms of like, even
the way I word certain things.
After I send a Tweet, I'm like,
"Yeah, I guess I shouldn't
have said that like that."
Daniel obviously feels that he
wants to put everything out there.
And I disagree with him
about a lot of things.
But he obviously, genuinely,
holds those opinions.
And he has solid reasoning
for holding those opinions.
He's willing to discuss.
He's willing to engage.
He's willing to debate.
If you have a belief,
I don't mind hearing it.
I can have a civil
discussion about it.
It doesn't mean I hate you. I can
respect others with differing views.
I've just always been somebody
that's believed wholehearted
that integrity is the most
important aspect of being a man.
And part of that, for me,
is being honest about my
true feelings about things.
If you buy into a tournament
like, whatever,
in a re-buy tournament
two hours late, for example,
according to this rule, you should
only lose three rounds of blinds.
I've showed up two hours late
in the last re-buy tournament
and I only had 1,125
of my 2,000.
So how can you selectively
enforce a rule,
not only from
tournament to tournament,
but in this specific tournament?
Because I should have
started with more chips too.
I'm not complaining. I'm
fine with what I started with.
But if you're gonna start everyone
else with more chips, bro, come on!
How can you selectively enforce
this rule? It makes no sense.
He did used to be this tribune
of the people type of character,
which I think some people
found quite irritating,
cos, if you're a tribune
of the people,
you have to be an elected
tribune of the people.
But I think he was all for fairness and
he's usually right. That's the thing.
Justifiably, he was
furious about, you know,
the Full Tilt scandal.
He might have gone a little
bit too far in some cases
with the righteous
indignation card.
I think there was one
instance where he was
suggesting somebody's
legs got broken.
I think that might have been
going a little bit too far.
I think he would probably
admit that himself maybe.
I've come to realise that those
comments are pretty harsh.
And I've had some time
to think about what I'd said.
Yeah, I think they're
absolutely appropriate.
I do, Howard. If you're
listening and watching us, I do.
I don't think I would have
any problem with somebody
who had $15,000 of their
hard-earned money on your site
come up to you and bash you
in the nuts with a baseball bat.
Howard, Ray and Chris, you
asked the poker world to...
you know, accept your brand
and come play at your site.
Come play and chat with the
pros. Come chat with the pros.
There's a lot of people that would
like to chat with you right now.
But all of a sudden... zip.
I waited a long time. I really
didn't say anything for months,
hoping that you guys could rectify
the situation, but you are scumbags!
Absolute, flat-out scumbags
for ignoring the
poker world that you fleeced
for as much money as you did
and now you have nothing to say?
Nothing to say?!
Are you freaking serious?
There's not a
lawyer in the world
that can force you to keep
as quiet as you have.
And it's shameful,
disgusting and you
deserve a smack in the face
for what you've done.
You have no respect
for our community.
You should be shunned and ostracised
from our community forever
for the lack of respect you've shown us
by not giving us a single statement.
Something to the effect of, "
I'm so sorry about what happened.
I'll do everything in my power to
rectify the situation." Nothing.
Instead, you hide out like
a shameful little weasel.
Shameful little weasel that you are.
All three of you disgust me. Bluuh!
If everybody spoke up
the same way that he does,
then it would be different.
You know, at the time,
he was right about
what he was saying
about certain people.
Erm, but maybe stretched it
a little bit, I don't know.
I have to be true to myself
and part of that means
I have an opinion and
I'm gonna share it.
I realise, wholeheartedly,
that when I take stand
on something,
it's gonna piss some people off and
other people may applaud me for it.
That's just gonna happen when
you're as outspoken as I am.
But I'd rather be that kind of person
than someone who has no opinion at all.
I didn't want to be involved
in the politics of poker.
Daniel is much different.
He voices his opinion. He knows
everything that's going on in poker.
I've been at odds with the
Tournament Directors Association,
in terms of the way that they're
implementing new rule changes
and giving themselves some
self-appointed power, if you will.
And really kind of blurring
the lines of their role.
A rule that makes
your job easier
doesn't, necessarily,
make it a better rule.
A rule the players appreciate,
that the players want,
the players prefer, is
the rule that should trump
the idea that it might make your
job just a little bit easier.
I see that the role
of the tournament director...
as customer service
because it's the players
that are paying the entry fees
to play in the tournaments
that pay your salary.
So it's not a prison guard,
prisoner mentality.
And I saw a shift, where a lot of
rules that were being implemented
that were not recreational
player friendly.
So I spoke out, you know, and a lot
of the time they don't like that.
And I appreciate what they do.
But if I don't agree with something,
I'm gonna say it,
regardless of the backlash
that it may create,
even if I'm the only
one saying it.
Dan's very opinionated.
That's what we love about him.
I mean, he's gonna give you his
opinion Whether you like it or not.
And I wish more people
were like that.
At least with Daniel, you
always know where you stand.
If he doesn't like you, he'll
tell you he doesn't like you.
There's nothing phoney
about him.
And... that's just
the way it is.
Sometimes he gets
people's backs up.
But he always presents
a strong argument.
And he's also not petty.
And I have, occasionally, seen
him even change his position
when listening to
the opinions of others.
But, yes, it does sometimes
make him a target for people,
who sometimes feel
that it's not his place.
But he's an individual
and that's who he is.
It's very much part
of his personality
and, actually, I don't think
he would be who he is now
had he played it safe.
Had he stayed mute on
so many things over the years.
I often stick my nose
where it doesn't belong.
I often have an opinion
that is strong
and righteous, if you will,
and I'm wrong...
You know. I don't know.
I can't remember.
But I'm sure I have
been wrong once or twice.
And I just hope that
you all understand that
I appreciate this award
so much
because it's a validation of
me sticking for what I believe is
truly best for this poker community.
Recently, I've seen
a different side to him.
He's listening and thinking
about others.
My brother changed
after my mother's passing.
It made him...
look at...
the world a little different.
Where, you know what?
That support has gone.
You know, Daniel's mother
was fine.
And then, she wasn't.
It was like that.
My mother suffered
from heart issues.
One day, she had a minor stroke.
She had to be
hospitalised for it.
I had to bring my mother
back home to Toronto.
And she recovered, but the
doctors explained to us that...
they need to go back in cos, if they
don't, she may have a bigger stroke.
He warned us it would be
a high-risk surgery
and I didn't really hear that.
I'm like, "Okay,
I'm sure it will be fine.
Surgery, doctors, they
know what they're doing."
Well, it wasn't good because
that was the last I ever
spoke to my mother,
or the last she could ever speak
to me because during the, erm,
surgery, when they were trying
to get the blood clots out,
she had a massive stroke, where she
was fully paralysed on her left side.
Never spoke another word.
Was in a coma for quite a while.
So for seven, eight months,
she led a "life" where
she was bed-ridden
and couldn't speak, couldn't
drink water, couldn't eat food.
Just absolutely miserable, like.
My brother was at the hospital
every day.
I was living in Vegas
and I would go visit.
There was
one day I remember.
I told her, "I have
a surprise for you."
But she couldn't speak, but...
through eye contact we knew
what was going on.
We could always communicate just by
the way we looked at each other.
"I have a surprise for you."
She looked at me
and she's like...
I said, "Daniel's here."
And Daniel walked in.
And she's like this.
Her eyes lit up.
So even at that point in time,
having Daniel there just brightened
up her world. It was amazing.
It was hard for him to see
his mother in that condition.
It took a lot out of my brother,
because the demands put on him.
At that time,
his career was rising.
He always had to keep up
with appearances.
It took a big toll, even with
his performance at the table.
Like, you could see
things weren't right.
I don't think...
he was able to deal with it.
I let him know that it's okay.
I got your back.
We'll deal with this together.
And my mum hung in there
for a long time.
And, ultimately,
the doctors said,
"She's getting better. It looks
like she might get out next week,
and we'll put her
in some rehab."
And then my brother, he has an annual
football game that he goes to.
So, that weekend, he went
to the football game.
Cos he'd been to the hospital
every single day.
I flew in to Toronto. I was going
to see my mother the next morning.
That's the night she died.
It's amazing.
Like, as soon as my brother
was gone and I wasn't there,
I felt like she finally felt
the peace where she's like,
"I don't have to
hang on any more."
After the funeral...
I drove my brother
to the airport.
And, he went back to Vegas.
Back home.
While he's walking away,
I looked at him and
I said to myself...
"He's on his own."
But I knew Vegas was his home.
He'd established himself
there and...
he had a lot of friends
and a lot of support.
I knew he was gonna be okay.
Vegas is his home.
It wasn't till,
you know, a few weeks later,
when something funny happened
and I wanted to tell my mum,
and realised that I couldn't,
cos she's not there any more.
That's when it all
kind of hit me.
It did change him
a little bit.
He became a little bit more
focused on the things he wanted
and went after them
a little bit more.
Became a little bit more
ambitious and...
a little bit more
caring and loving,
because he did realise that,
you know, you do die
and life is short.
The way we are, the way we behave
and act, the way we treat others.
You know, the legacy lives on.
Seeing my brother,
I see my father,
as he's a spitting image
of him, so...
just getting down or whatever,
I would call him, he'd always
have a funny story
or act out and make me laugh
and remember the good times.
The only regret I have
or sadness, outside
of a perfect childhood,
is the fact that my parents
weren't around longer.
In my household,
growing up, it was always
boisterous, it was always fun,
fun-loving, always
music being played.
Dancing and singing.
Food and drink.
And I think maybe we've become
like our parents a little bit.
I'd already started down a path of
self-discovery and introspection
when my agent, Brian, did this
course on emotional intelligence,
here in Vegas, called ChoiceCenter, and
he said, "Dude, you gotta try it."
I went there. The first
couple of days I'm like,
"This seems silly," you know?
It's not really for me, but,
ultimately, I learned a lot
about what's held me back from
being the best version of myself.
I had sort of an experience with a girl
who I was absolutely in love with.
The signs were there, right? I
knew there were things going on.
And I knew all this stuff,
but I chose to stay in that.
And I hadn't realised how
much that affected me,
that failed relationship with the
girl, in all areas of my life.
It didn't just hurt
my confidence there,
but it hurt my confidence
at the poker table.
So when I read on the internet
people saying,
"He's over the hill. All these
young kids are better than him,"
I started to believe it.
"Yeah, maybe they're right.
Maybe I can't compete any more."
So, through the course, I tapped
into that confidence again.
Like, "Wait a minute, I've done it
before. I can totally do it again."
I told my story
of a broken heart, right?
So I told it,
as me being the victim.
And then I retold the story again,
where I'm 100% responsible.
It was one of the most freeing
experiences I've ever had.
Cos I realised,
I chose all that.
So it gave me the power back.
I had a coach and I had a plan
of how I was going to do it.
Part of it was watching video.
I would watch
the high roller events.
I would talk poker with friends.
I would practise poker.
I was re-studying the game.
The biggest thing
I've been able to shift
is when I'm in a bad place,
cos I'm still there.
I still get pissed off,
I still get angry and annoyed.
I still get arrogant, I still
get condescending to people.
What I'm able to do is
recognise it much quicker
and then I can shift out of it.
So, instead of being in that
place for a week or two weeks,
and being like, "Poor me,
look at me." No, no, no.
"How am I responsible for
creating this situation?
How am I being in this moment?
How do I want to be?
How am I going to shift into that?" I
do that much quicker than in the past.
If I make a mistake or I do something
wrong, I'll acknowledge it, right?
And then commit to what I'm going
to do differently about it.
I look back on all the things
I've created in my life
and I believe that I'm 100%
responsible for all of it,
in the sense of, like,
the good and the bad.
Cos I'm responsible for
all the decisions I make.
Sure, you could use the fact
I was born into good parents
and I didn't choose that.
I was lucky, absolutely,
and I don't take that for
granted, but from that point,
erm, I believe that people
are right where they are at
based on decisions that they've made
in their life, both good and bad.
He's a much more relaxed
and much calmer person.
So he's moving slowly
towards humility,
like we all try to do.
Daniel and I, we were always cordial
but it was never a friendship.
And I can say that in the last couple
of years that has completely shifted.
I think that we've
both grown up a lot and,
you know, now I consider
Daniel a true friend.
He's a really solid human.
He has a big heart.
I think he's able
to talk to people.
And listen.
As opposed to always
wanting to be heard.
He's able to listen now.
I find our relationship
Cos now he's attentive.
I see him focused and driven.
Wanting to succeed again.
I'm a big believer
in the idea that
everything starts
with a thought, right?
A belief that you can
or can't do something.
Call it clear intention,
if you will.
So I'm very, very clear on, "What
is it that I want to achieve?"
And if I believe that I can,
I'm going to put in the work.
So this is my vision board
or vision wall, if you will.
the idea behind this
is you put things out there
that you want to achieve.
And it's a constant
reminder daily.
I have a personality type
that's very goal driven.
I'm self-motivated. I put more pressure
on myself than anyone else can.
In fact, sometimes when people
doubt me, it fuels me.
When I hear people saying I'm
done, I can't do this or that,
I'm like, "Really? Man, do I
want to shove this in your face!"
That's what drives me.
In poker, each year I try to come up
with new ways to motivate myself.
Right now, the one area I feel like I'm
falling behind or I need to address
is the number of bracelets
I've got. I've got six.
And I feel like I should have
nine or ten right now.
So the next few years, I'm
going to push really hard
towards, you know,
getting back into the race
for the all-time
lead in bracelets.
Also I've been close to winning
an EPT title twice.
The Grand Final,
which is, you know, the crown jewel,
is one where I came fourth in.
And I had a fourth before that.
EPTs are considered
very prestigious.
There's a lot
of tough competition.
So having that on my resume is
something that does matter to me.
I think my brother
just wants to succeed
at what he loves to do,
whether it be soccer,
playing sports...
and poker.
It's not about the money.
It's about that bracelet.
That Holy Grail,
getting to the next level.
my brother's determined.
No matter what,
he will get what he wants.
I've got a broader scope of what
I want to create in my life.
I am focusing on what ways I can
do the more mainstream stuff
and do other things
outside of poker.
I'm always going to be a poker
player and care about that,
but I have a lot of goals
that are in different verticals.
I'm very, very excited
about hockey
possibly coming to Las Vegas
and being a part of
the ownership group.
I'm hoping to be
a minority owner as well.
I mean, as a kid,
growing up in Toronto,
the idea of owning a
piece of an NHL team.
Even if it's not gonna
make me a bunch of money,
it's more of a dream come true.
It's really about expanding. Using
the platform that I've been given
to make a difference
in the world, in various ways.
One of the events that
I'm working on now
is one with St Jude's
Children's Hospital.
And I'm really inspired by
what the Germans are doing,
raising for effective giving,
which is, essentially, asking the
poker world to make a difference.
A lot of people are conflicted.
If you play poker for a living,
what do you contribute to society?
You take money from other people.
What are you gonna do
to live a balanced life and
make sure you're contributing?
And one of the ways you can do
that is by giving effectively.
Growing up, he always wanted
to hustle, hustle, hustle
and get to the next level.
Now, I think he's
able to reflect,
look back,
and start to give
to his community.
And now, I know just recently,
he went to California,
to talk to people in government
and help get poker
back in the United States.
So I think he's become
a poker ambassador.
He's the voice of poker.
When you think of poker, most
people think of Daniel Negreanu.
Somebody that I look up to.
Basically, if he says something,
you know, that's what he believes.
That's something that,
you know, I try to
do in my own life.
I don't think
you can actually measure
the contribution that
Daniel's made to the game.
He's had a massive influence.
I'm sure he would have been
responsible for a lot of people
learning the game.
He's written columns.
He's done interviews.
He teaches strategy. He's
always there to help people.
I see a lot of people
go to him for advice
and he's never turned anybody
down when they needed him.
It's actually amazing to see
how many people who actually
don't even play poker
or necessarily like poker,
but Daniel's transcended that.
He's fun to watch. When he's
on TV, you want to watch him,
cos he takes you through
the process of the hand,
he calls it out right,
most of the time,
and that's what people
want to watch.
Most people look up to
Daniel in one way or another,
for his ability as a poker player but
also his ability to market the game.
At the American Poker Wars,
the first-ever ceremony,
he was named poker ambassador,
and he had no competition
because, throughout the years,
he has completely
understood his role,
understood the need to
bring people into poker,
to make it appealing and really
publicise what great fun it is
and what a great experience
it is for everyone.
And he's excellent at it.
Being an ambassador
is a role I fell into
that I feel very comfortable
in for the game.
It's just I'm
compelled to do it.
I don't feel as though
it's an obligation at all.
It just feels like
I love this game.
I want to see it grow and
I want to see people enjoy it
and have fun with it,
like they always have.
And if I can contribute
to that, I'm going to.
I can't think of too many people who've
done more for the game of poker today.
No one deserved it more than Daniel
getting in the Poker Hall of Fame.
Well, to be inducted
at 40 years old,
first-time balloter,
alongside Chip Reese,
who I admired as a player
and as a person,
is certainly an honour.
Hey, my man.
It's recognition
from your peers.
From the living members
of the Hall of Fame,
who are saying that, you know,
you're part of the club now.
Most of the youngsters,
they don't meet the criteria.
But Daniel, he crushes it.
Daniel deserves to be
in the Hall of Fame.
He's earned a spot. He's
been an amazing ambassador.
But he's made it because
of the player that he is.
I'd like to welcome Daniel into
the 2014 Poker Hall of Fame.
I just wanted to start by saying,
this is an absolute honour
and thanks for being here.
Did anyone buy that, right,
that that's all I had to say?
No, I've got a lot to say.
When I started playing poker
as a teenager,
I remember watching the World
Series of Poker on ESPN
and seeing guys like Phil Hellmuth
and Johnny Chan battling it out
and thought, you know, "I just
want to be a part of that."
I decided I wanted to make
my mother proud of what I do,
because, when I started
in the late '90s,
being a professional poker player
wasn't something to be proud of.
After all, what do we contribute
to society? What do we give back?
I've been in the game for over, I
don't know, about 20 years now,
and I plan to be in this game
another 40 years.
I want to be part of the conversation,
a big part of the conversation,
changing the definition of what a
poker player is and what we do.
Thinking of my parents, who,
if they were here today,
I know would be proud. My mother
would have cooked all the food.
Cos that's what she does,
and my dad would make sure
all your glasses were full,
cos that's just the kind
of people they were.
I had parents who just
loved me unconditionally.
And I'm super thankful
and grateful for that.
For me, it was never
about the money.
My first trip to
Las Vegas was here,
actually in Binion's
Horseshoe, downstairs.
I brought a $3,000 bankroll.
And about 24 hours later,
I had a lot of free time
on my hands.
I was like watching
the room going, "Okay."
So I learned my lesson. But really
the reason I got into poker
was cos it was a passion for me.
I believe that whatever it is
you choose to do in your life,
being passionate
is a prerequisite.
Wanting it for fame and fortune
will not get you there.
Unless you have a passion for it
and it's something you
truly love, the craft,
then you're very unlikely
to be successful.
Integrity is a word that
really means a lot to me.
I know probably in the last 15, 20
years, I've pissed off a lot of people.
Some of you are in this room,
But I'm going
to have an opinion.
If I stand alone...
I have stood alone
many times on
controversial issues.
But I'm always telling you
exactly what I feel
and like what I really
truly believe.
It reminds me of an Aristotle
quote, actually.
I've never really been
afraid of controversy
and this one quote sums it up.
It says "to avoid criticism
say nothing,
do nothing and be nothing".
And that's not the way
I live my life.
In this 20-year journey,
one of my goals was
to make my mother proud.
And I hope that in doing so...
I've inspired others
to dream bigger,
live a bigger life
and also show the world that just
because we play poker for a living
doesn't mean that we can't
contribute to society.
So I want to thank everyone here, all
the living members who voted me in.
I'm honoured,
I'm thankful and, erm...
That's all I got.
We always knew that the
potential was just no ceiling,
up to the sky.
The field that he's in has a lot to do
with your character and who you are.
It's not only about reading
cards and math and stats,
which he's also really good at,
but it's your personality.
If your tombstone says
"great poker player",
that seems like
an unfulfilled life.
I'd rather be seen as someone
who was inspiring to others.
Someone who gave back,
a good friend, a good brother.
A good son.
I think both my parents
are looking down on us
and saying, "You know what?
He did what he said
he was going to do."
Having my parents support him,
his endeavours, I think,
means the world to my brother.
Everything about the way that
I see the world I owe them,
because they taught me
that anything is possible.
They taught me that, you know,
that giving is important.
You know, they taught me that
motivation and drive and having fun,
and being hospitable,
like that's really the core,
the things that I still,
to this day, view as important.
And it comes from them.
ID telegram: @imrezy