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Daniel Negreanu Shakes Off Rough 2023 With PokerGO Tour Victory

After Disclosing $2.2 Million In Losses, 49-Year-Old Rebounds By Winning First Event Of The Year


It was a disastrous year on the felt for Daniel Negreanu, but he has started off his 2024 campaign on a great note by winning the first event on the schedule.

Negreanu topped a field of 91 entries at the PokerGO studio at Aria Las Vegas to claim the title of the opening tournament of the PGT Last Chance series.

The $10,000 buy-in event resulted in a prize pool of $910,000, $218,400 of which went to Negreanu.

While the payout is nowhere near a career high for the Poker Hall of Famer, who currently sits at no. 7 all time with nearly $51 million in cashes, it is larger than any score he had in 2023.

Detailing A Rough Year Of Tournaments

Negreanu has a long way to go before he erases his losses from 2023. As he has done every year for the past decade, the Canadian poker legend displayed full transparency for his results, revealing that he lost a whopping $2,228,174 in 12 months playing tournaments.

Although he managed to cash in nearly 27 percent of the tournaments he entered, making the money 39 times in 145 events, those numbers don’t account for rebuys. And when it comes to high rollers, Negreanu struck out, recording only a few six-figure cashes and none more than $124,000.

He had been headed for a similar fate in 2022 before a late win at the Super High Roller Bowl for $3.3 million turned his year around completely. However, Negreanu would later blame that victory for putting him on ’winner’s tilt’ to start 2023.

The main reason for Negreanu’s downswing, in his eyes, is that he played too many events. The 145 tournaments he entered represented a nearly 50 percent increase over his last few years of volume, and was nearly three times more events than he entered in 2014 when he profited a personal best of $7.1 million. Overall, Negreanu has finished in the black in seven of the last 10 years.

His solution, or resolution for the new year, is to play better by playing less. It’s a move that appears to have paid off so far with Tuesday’s win.

Finding The Winner’s Circle

Negreanu credited his wife, former poker reporter Amanda Leatherman, for his latest ‘lightbulb moment.’

“She said, ‘You know you never do any good when you don’t feel like playing right?’ And it was like my poker career flashed before my eyes, searching for a time when I wasn’t all there, but won anyway. I didn’t find it. She was right.”

Negreanu went on to say that his grind resiliency was more of a “leak” than “admirable” and vowed to focus on “quality over quantity” when it came to his future schedule. If he didn’t feel like playing, he wouldn’t force it.

There was another $10,000 event on Wednesday, but Negreanu wasn’t eager to jump in and ride the momentum. As he reflected on his late-night win on social media, he pointed out that he would only be back on his terms.

“I will play again when I NEED to play. When I can’t WAIT to play. And not a moment sooner. I’m proud of myself because before this epiphany, I’d be at the studio right now yawning and just going through the motions.”

Climbing The Leaderboard

Negreanu might have a good reason to head back to the studio soon, however. The PGT Last Chance series is the final opportunity for players to position themselves in the season-ending $1 million freeroll that will run later this month.

With the victory, Negreanu moved from just inside the bubble in 35th place (the top 40 players qualify) to no. 16. While that essentially locks up his seat, the freeroll’s starting stacks are dependant on finishing position, meaning more cashes and points would be worth more chips.

Plenty of notables turned out to the opening event, undoubtedly looking to move up the leaderboard themselves. Kristen Foxen just snuck into the money, finshing in 13th place. She was followed by Lewis Spencer, Justin Saliba, Ping Liu, and Jonathan Little en route to the final table.

The final table, which was streamed live on PokerGO, featured Nick Schulman (8th), Isaac Haxton (7th), David Peters (6th), Jonathan Cohen (5th), Justin Bonomo (4th), and Masashi Oya (3rd). You can watch a full replay here.

Negreanu needed a little luck for his latest win, beating Daniel Smiljkovic heads-up with a four-outer on the river. Smiljkovic called all in for nearly 90 percent of the chips in play with trip jacks, needing only to dodge a gutshot straight draw from Negreanu to take control of the match. Instead, the river gave Negreanu Broadway and the title.

Oya moved from 39th place to 34th, giving himself some breathing room in the standings, while Smiljkovic went from 34th to 24th. Bonomo moved up to 48th, and will need a couple more deep runs to qualify. Haxton continues to lead the rankings.

Final Table Results

Place Player Payout POY PGT
1 Daniel Negreanu $218,400 540 218
2 Daniel Smiljkovic $150,150 450 150
3 Masashi Oya $113,750 360 114
4 Justin Bonomo $91,000 270 91
5 Jonathan Cohen $72,800 225 73
6 David Peters $54,600 180 55
7 Isaac Haxton $45,500 135 46
8 Nick Schulman $36,400 90 36

*Photos by PokerGO – Antonio Abrego