If Daniel Negreanu was looking to build momentum ahead of the 2021 World Series of Poker, he could hardly have done any better than his performance in the PokerGO cup. Negreanu managed to pick up his first tournament win since 2013, winning the $50,000 no-limit hold'em event for a $700,000 prize and placing fourth in the $100,000 no-limit hold'em event for an additional $230,000 and the series title.
Negreanu, one of the most recognizable faces in professional poker, doesn't plan to sit on that success until the start of the WSOP in late September. Instead, he will continue grinding through a series of major events in the coming weeks, looking to build on that momentum.
"That's the tough part, preparing," Negreanu told CBS Sports. "We're in this major grind after COVID where we've just had the U.S. Poker Open, you've got the PokerGO Cup, you have these online bracelets, I'll travel to Cabo to play the GGPoker leg of the World Series of Poker, come back and you've got the Poker Masters, then you've got the Super High Roller Bowl, and then you have the World Series of Poker. I'm trying to think if there's a spot in there where I may need a little bit of a break. It won't be during the World Series live.
"I guess Cabo is kind of like a break because I get to just chill at home and the way they've structured it for GGPoker is that there isn't an event everyday. There are phase events, so if you qualify, then you have some days off, hang out with the wife, chill out on the beach, so that'll probably be what I consider 'the break.'"
Negreanu's busy schedule will continue through the WSOP. He's notorious for playing as many, if not more, events than anyone else over the course of Poker's biggest event.
"I can't imagine there's anyone hat's going to play a bigger schedule than me," Negreanu said. "I don't spend a lot of time focusing on large-field no-limit hold'em tournaments -- maybe I'll dabble in a few -- but really for me it's going to be the higher buy-in mixed games and high buy-in no-limit hold'em. There's not going to be a day when I'm not playing something. I don't do days off.
"... For me, it's fun to kick off with the $25,000 H.O.R.S.E., which is new, but what's near and dear to my heart and always has been is the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. I pride myself on being I think one of the best tournament players at eight-game. I think there are players that are better than me in some of the games for sure, but in terms of eight-game tournaments I don't think there are many people that play them better than I do. I don't really feel like I have any significant games where I'm like, 'Oh, shoot! I'm screwed.' So that's the one I always look forward to."
Negreanu is third on poker's all-time money list, with $43,298,506 in tournament winnings. The Canadian pro has won six bracelets in World Series of Poker tournament play along with a host of other major tournament victories.
In 2015, Negreanu made a deep run in the WSOP $10,000 main event, finishing in eleventh place in a 6,420 player field. That deep run likely didn't ease the sting of a lengthy run without a major live poker tournament championship, but was another example of how the 46-year-old has constantly reevaluated his game and made the necessary changes to remain a relevant player at the highest levels in a constantly changing poker environment.
According to Negreanu, the ability to make those changes comes down to two personal values above all else.
"Respect and self-awareness," Negreanu said. "Respect for the younger generation. Respect for the fact that there's always someone younger working hard to try and make it for themselves. The hardest thing to do in poker, or anything, I think is once you reach the top to stay at the top. There's a famous boxer who had this quote because he's already famous and he won a lot of money, 'It's a lot harder to make that 5 a.m. run in silk pajamas.'
"I love the game and I always want to stay relevant. Anytime I ever feel like I'm getting outplayed, that's when I'm going to reach out to my guys that I work with and get in the lab and ask, 'What do I need to work on?' Right now, I'm as confident as ever. The crazy thing is that during this really bad run, I felt really, really confident in my play. I look at the situations and think, 'Oh, I'm doing really well. I'm doing the things that I want to,' so it's nice to have a little bit of luck."