Daniel Negreanu: The Next Chapter

Daniel Negreanu: An Annual Review


What a year it has been for Daniel Negreanu. A member of the old skool showing the young wizards that his battered and worn wand still packs a punch.

I won’t go into detail with respect to everything he won. Instead, let’s just say he won a lot. I got the opportunity to speak to him this week, and I decided to concentrate on life and let the other writers concentrate on his poker.

Daniel Negreanu: An Annual Review

What I discovered was a man who is on a mission to help improve the life of others. It is his dream. His fascination. And we explored why in the 30-minutes we had to spend together.

I hope you enjoy reading, or listening to it, as much as I enjoyed conducting it.

So what does your life look like outside of poker?

“My life is about helping others. That has been what I have been focusing on more in the last year. I really enjoy life coaching, helping people to achieve their dreams and getting them on the right track.

“I really believe I am in a position in my life where I can afford to do that. Also helping specific causes that are dear to my heart and inspiring people to help others. To see that in action…it’s the key to a society that really works.

“People talk about a selfless act and I don’t really believe that exists. Because when you help others and do good things you feel more empowered and better anyway. I believe the real secret to success in life is really focusing on what you can do and offer for other people, and not focusing on oneself.”

Do you have any fears that may impede progress towards your goals?

“I have considered having a family of my own – getting married and having children. I was married once before, for two and a half years, and it’s definitely something that I would like to do. I am very aware of my own self worth and I wouldn’t settle on just anybody unless I felt I needed to be with this women. I was in love once – but she wasn’t the one for me, but I’ll keep looking and when I find her I’ll just know.

“There is somewhat of a timeframe. If you are going to meet someone and have a family, age is going to be an issue at some point. I am 39 now but I feel very young. I feel about 26…but if I met a girl of that age then things start to get a little weird. So you begin to wonder if it still makes sense?”

How much was the appearance on the Millionaire Maker about the television exposure, and how much of it was about finding Mrs. Right?

“I went on there because I thought it would be fun. I watch a lot of reality TV and I had this thought that 20-30 girls are going to be running at me and I get to pick one, which I thought was pretty cool. It was mostly about the experience, but I did meet a cool girl, we hung out for about three months and are still friends to this day.”

What does your life look like?

“When I am home in Las Vegas I am such a hermit. Ever since I did this course a year ago {Choice Center}, I now live a very structured life. I have daily routines in my phone such as: run a mile everyday, go to the gym, hit 80 golf balls, do Spanish lessons, read a book, watch some hockey, watch a TV series and on top of all that eating six good meals per day and helping other people.”

How did your path lead you to the Choice Center?

“My agent did the course and told me that it was life changing and that I should do it myself. So I booked myself in and after the first couple of days it was like, ‘what am I doing here?’

“It ended up being the most impactful experience of my life and I highly recommend it to my friends and family to do it. I would say 95% of people who do it have great results from it, so when I get a chance I like to send my friends there. This is a vehicle that I believe gets people to where they want to go a lot quicker.”

What were the main light bulb moments?

“I realized that I was lacking confidence due to a relationship with a girl that I didn’t realize had a residual effect. The word integrity was always important to me, but today it means so much more now than ever. It really hammers home how important it is to keep your word to others, but more importantly to yourself. If people understood this and practiced it more often, then more people would lead the lives they want to live.”

So your daily routines are a way of practicing the art of keeping your own word?

“Absolutely. Here is how the course is broken down. There is a first weekend called Discovery which is about finding out what holds you back in life, then the next weekend which is called Breakthrough, which is about figuring out how to get to the other side. Then Leadership is a three-month period where you work on personal goals and I still do that to this day.

“So you write out a plan, so you have an intention to do say 8 pull-ups by the middle of February – I am at 6 by now. That’s one of my goals. So you set the goal and then you work on the weekly road map to get to that goal – where I set myself up to succeed.”

Who surrounds you in your life?

“On a daily basis I have my two assistants: Patty and Joel who are there quite often. I also spend a lot of time with Christian who is my golf coach, caddy, and great friend and we also work out a lot together with my trainer Tiffany.

“Those are people – who interestingly all work for me – but also are part of my daily life. They are all friends, as I don’t consider hiring people who are not friends; also my manager Brian is a good friend of mine, and some poker players as well.”

What problems do you experience on a daily basis?

“I don’t really face or create a lot of problems. I guess my mind and active drive to accomplish goals, sometimes means I put a lot on my plate – but I can handle it. I guess I am very blessed in that way. I guess…relationship wise with women. Other than that I live a pretty stress free life.

“One of the patterns I had before I went to the Choice Center was the pattern of choosing the wrong women. Wounded birds if you will. I found that I was ending up with a lot of wounded birds, and I was the knight in shining armor who would come along and rescue them. That’s changed. I don’t really do that anymore. Now I look for women who are already successful and empowered. Those are women that I used to hold a self worth conversation; I didn’t really believe I deserved to have a life together with these people. But those destructive patterns don’t exist anymore. I hold myself to high standards, love myself from within, I feel whole and complete and I don’t need to be in a relationship.”

It sounds like you have understood that you can choose a certain type of woman that can fit into your values, rather than letting nature take its course?

“I wouldn’t say that specifically but there certain non-negotiables. One of the biggest things I look for in women is conversation. That’s something that I am attracted to. Someone who wants to change the world and make a difference in other peoples lives is also important.”

Does getting married for the second time hold any fears for you?

“Not at all. My marriage was very pleasant in the sense that our divorce was very easy. She came home one day and I said, ‘do you want to get a divorce?’ She said, ‘yes I do,’ and so we hugged, made some popcorn, watched a movie and went to bed. There were no lawyers, we ended up being friends to this day; it’s just that we ended up being more like roommates, than a real marriage, but she’s a great person and there is nothing from that experience that would hold me back from doing it again.”

Who influences you and why?

“My agent is a positive role model, and a guy that I trust. I also confide in Patty and Joel. Then there are people I met through the Choice Center – my good friend Laura who became my buddy throughout the course. I speak to her everyday and she is very important to me.”

What moves you?

“Seeing people going from a lifestyle as a victim, and seeing them move to a place where they live a more responsible life. Seeing that transformation, especially when I have had an input on helping them. That’s the biggest gift I have ever received in life.”

You are a very exuberant person, does this give you communication problems when trying to give advice to others. Do you sometimes sound like a preacher?

“I don’t have a problem and I will give you a key reason why. I don’t believe you should give people advice without asking permission. Once they give you the permission you have sort of disarmed the potential that they could be defensive or put off by it.

“Let’s imagine I wanted to give somebody some feedback. I would ask permission to do this. It creates a safe environment to discuss things openly and honestly. I make sure whenever I speak to anyone on this level that I get their permission first.”

A big risk you have taken in your life?

“In poker, the biggest risk I took was moving to Las Vegas. I didn’t know if I was good enough to beat the games, no bankroll, no stability, and making that decision was a big risk. I believed that I could do it, and I did, but it was still a big risk to leave my family and my country to move to Las Vegas.”

You live in Sin City and are a professional poker player. Do you worry about this when you have children?

“As a poker player you have the luxury to pick your own schedule. So if I had young children I could spend a lot of time with them. I think poker is a great game to teach young children. It’s great to learn math and people skills. It doesn’t have to be about money. It can be about the challenge and competition. So many people associate poker with gambling, but it also has a lot of learning tools within it that can really help kids develop.”

You are set up financially, and your children could potentially have anything they want, which brings its own problems. How are you going to manage this as a father?

“I have thought long and hard about it. I believe I will be a good father because I will be around and present for them, and this is the most important thing for a father. I am a big believer that children need framework and structure in life and they want to be guided, and know what the boundaries are, and if they don’t feel them they feel less loved.

“I feel like I would be understanding father, a good listener, present, connected and a team player along with my wife.

You have just lost $300,000 playing the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Super High Roller. That’s a lot of money. Is the game spiraling out of control from a financial perspective?

“I don’t think the game is in danger. Typically, in these high roller games you have businessmen who can afford it, and a lot of poker players who have backers and arrangements meaning that they aren’t putting up the $100k themselves.

“It’s great for television in the sense that you get the same types of people so it breeds familiarity. I also believe that people should be able to play whatever they want. So if five people want to show up and play a $2m buy-in tournament then let them do that. I have no real feeling that it’s a positive or negative with these events, people will see into them what they will, but if there’s a market for it I see no problem with it.”

You are the Global Poker Index (GPI) Player of the Decade. Hand on heart do you get pissed off with the constant automated response of ‘Phil Ivey’ whenever anyone talks about who is the best player in the world?

“I don’t get pissed because I agree. Phil takes things to a different level. He beats everybody at everything. He does it all. In terms of tournament poker I have an argument that my record shows that I should be in that conversation as well; but for all round play I believe he is still the best. He loves the game of poker so much he is always playing and always thinking about the game.”

Do these awards still mean what they once did?

“I think they are more wonderful today. I enjoy it when people second-guess me and start talking about me being over the hill and that I can’t compete with these guys. The award I won in 2004 was great, but this one was so much better because I could prove the naysayers wrong.

“Especially after going through the Choice Center course because there were a lot of haters out there. I don’t believe I would have been quite as successful if I didn’t get my mind straight had I not done the Choice Center work. So to really have the results match what I was saying I had learned was really rewarding.”