Saturday, September 03, 2005

Daniel Negreanu Challenge

Here is an article from Canadian Poker Player Magazine that i thought would be an interesting read on Daniel Negreanu and his big money challenges.

Poker lore reminds us how Benny Binion matched poker legends Nick the Greek and Johnny Moss in epic heads-up poker matches. The two would play just behind a glass window, with the huge stakes being wagered, garnering the attention from passer-bys. The spirit of these classic battles lives on once again, this time in the new Wynn Las Vegas Casino on the mid-strip. The Wynn’s poker host and 2004 Toyota World Series of Poker Player of the Year, Daniel Negreanu, issued an open challenge to any poker player on earth. The challenge is simple: he’ll play anyone heads-up at any of the common poker variations (hold’em, Omaha, stud, triple-draw, limit, no limit, or pot limit) for a buy-in of $100,000-$500,000.

Daniel’s challenge did not go unnoticed. When Daniel first issued his challenge in April of this year, internet websites and poker chat forums immediately teemed with discussion and excitement. Some poker insiders thought his idea was nothing more than a veiled publicity stunt, predicting that very few contenders would arise for such high stakes. Since then, Daniel has indeed taken on a series of poker greats. The main attraction for the challenger is simple: the challenger gets to choose the game and limit. These challengers, then, will automatically choose their best game and limit structure to take any advantage that they can.

The playing schedule of these challenges has been hampered by the ever-increasing hectic schedules of the professional poker players. For instance, Daniel has been very busy with the marketing of his new video game Stacked!, writing poker columns for newspapers and magazines, and playing in the World Series of Poker. Still, he’s been able to wager millions of dollars in nine contests thus far.

May 13th - Limit Hold’em vs. David Oppenheim - $200,000 buy-in

Daniel’s first contender was David Oppenheim. Casual poker enthusiasts may best know David through his appearance at the final table at the Borgata Casino event of Season 2 of the World Poker Tour. Poker professionals know David as one of the most formidable cash game players out there. David has been successful in high-stakes cash games since he was in his early 20’s (perhaps even younger). He’s considered to be one of the best in all forms of limit poker. As a younger player, he was known to be volatile and be susceptible to tilt. Through his years of experience, he’s grown past this to become a player with few weaknesses in his game.

Daniel wore a wide grin as some onlookers and press members huddled near the table to watch this compelling event. The cards were tough to “Kid Poker,” though. On a couple of occasions Daniel flopped trips, only to get beaten on the river by straights and flushes. At the end of the five hours of play, Negreanu has lost all of his chips to David. Running total -$200,000

May 16th - Limit Hold’em vs. Mimi Tran - $500,000 buy-in

Barry Greenstein schooled Mimi Tran in the art and science of poker many years ago. Since then, Mimi has become one of the best limit hold’em players in the world and has racked up tonnes of money finishes at the most prestigious tournaments in limit and no limit games. Some of her regular games in Los Angeles area are considered some of the toughest to navigate on the planet.

Mimi would find this evening to be an especially tough night of poker, though. Daniel began by amassing a sizable lead. Although Mimi was able to work back to being even for some time, Daniel began to hit many flops and regain the momentum. After a ten and a half hour marathon of poker, Daniel secured all of the 1 million dollars on the table. Running total + $300,000

May 23rd - Limit Hold’em vs. Joe Cassidy - $200,000 buy-in

Joe Cassidy is one of the rising young stars in poker. Although he’s only 24 years old, he’s already well known in poker circles for his mighty poker wars he’s waged at the Commerce Casino. His plans to become a lawyer were sidetracked due to trips to the poker rooms. Now a professional poker player with cashes at some of the WPT and WSOP events, I doubt that we will ever see him in law school.

Early on, Daniel lost a monster pot when his K-J of diamonds flopped a flush. Joe’s pocket Aces included a diamond, so the 4th diamond on the river provided Cassidy a nice windfall. Joe used some keen moves and good cards to dispense of Negreanu after about seven and a half hours of play. Although Daniel had lost 2 matches and won only 1, his single win was on the biggest money game meaning he still was in the black. Running total + $100,000

June 4th - 7 Card Stud vs. Barry Greenstein - $500,000 buy-in

Barry Greenstein is known as the “Robin Hood of Poker,” as he gives his tournament winnings to charities. He is one of the best overall players of poker today, with solid ability in all spreads of games. He plays in the highest limit cash games he can find, and has innumerable accomplishments on the tournament trail. Poker enthusiasts heavily anticipated this match-up, as Barry had spoken about his intentions to play Daniel at several/all of the games. In many respects, Greenstein vs. Negreanu has some of the same intriguing characteristics as Johnny Moss vs. Nick the Greek.

Playing around their schedules with the ongoing World Series of Poker events, this challenge was played-out in a couple of different sessions. Barry held control for most of the event, with Daniel continually battling to get back to even. Even after Daniel was able to secure a couple of slim leads, it still seemed to many observers that Greenstein held the advantage. In total, it took nearly thirteen and a half hours for the match to be completed. In the end, Barry walked away as the winner. Running total - $400,000

June 15th - 7 Card Stud vs. Barry Greenstein - $500,000 buy-in

Daniel’s confidence was not broken from his loss to Barry in the first Stud match. A few days later, they settled back in for yet another poker battle after Daniel asked for the rematch. With the World Series still in full swing, Barry and Daniel had to find time to meet and play when available over a couple of day’s worth of time. I’m sure neither would have guessed that it would take around eighteen and a half hours to complete the match! Barry Greenstein once again played great cards and made some timely moves. On the final hand of this long event, Barry caught trip 5’s to best Daniel’s 2 pair. All of the sudden, many were wondering if Daniel’s quest may be a bust. With his overall record at 1-4 in the heads-up matches, many questioned his wisdom of allowing the opponents to pick the game. Running Total - $900,000

June 16th - Pot Limit Omaha vs. Barry Greenstein - $500,000 buy-in

With two consecutive losses to Barry Greenstein, and an overall deficit of $900,000, the pressure must have been building for Daniel heading into this Omaha match. Greenstein is known to be an excellent PL Omaha player, and he must have been very confident as he entered the game. Yet it was Daniel who came out of the gates in a blaze, pulling in big pots and taking a sizable lead within a short amount of time. A proven veteran, Greenstein did not panic. Instead, Barry weathered the storm and came back to find himself nearly even a short while later. After another turn in fortunes, the first day of play ended with Daniel up about $125,000 overall. Play resumed the following day, but it took only a few minutes to complete the match. Barry missed the river card that he was looking for, enabling Daniel to take the match and win back a half of a million of his money. Running total - $400,000

June 17th - Stud H/L, 8 or better vs. Barry Greenstein - $500,000 buy-in

As soon as the PL Omaha challenge match was completed, the two familiar foes began a new contest. This time it was Stud H/L. As he’d done with the Pot Limit game, Daniel started out in full sprint. He was catching great cards and making wise moves, putting him up about $350,000 within the first couple of hours of play. That number held true as they played through the rest of the evening. When play resumed on another day, Barry continued his efforts to break through to no avail. Barry clawed and fought, forcing yet another day of play to be needed. Another long session ensued on the third day of Stud 8 play, until Barry was eventually dwindled down.

After this key win, Daniel posted the following thoughts on his personal blog at, “I hit hands when I needed to and was lucky that Barry missed some key draws along the way. While I feel like luck was on my side, though, I also believe that my hand reading skills are better than his at Stud H/L. Of all the matches we played thus far, Stud H/L would be the one where I feel like my edge over him is at it’s highest.” Running total +$100,000

July 15th - Pot Limit Omaha vs. Tony Bloom - $500,000 buy-in

Tony Bloom is one of Europe’s most highly regarded players. This Londoner displayed his Omaha skills by winning the Crown Australian Poker Championship event in January. Confident and aggressive, Tony may have been a slight favorite coming into this contest, as this is one of Tony’s strongest games.

The back and forth battle included many of the fireworks we may have guessed it would produce. With the World Series of Poker getting much of the attention of fans and media across town, there were few distractions to the players (except for that pesky $1 million that was at stake). There was very little in pre-flop folds. In fact, raises and calls were the norm rather than the exception. Daniel seemed visibly perplexed by some of Tony’s unusual plays. Daniel stayed the course, grinding out a chip lead. The final hand of the contest was symbolic of the intense nature of the game -- both players wound-up pushing in their chips, both using 6-7 for the same straight after the turn. Daniel’s 6 and 7 were both diamonds, though, giving him a straight flush draw. The river brought Daniel the 9-high straight flush to secure the $500,000 victory! Running total +$600,000

In Progress - Pot Limit Hold’em vs. Anonymous - $500,000 buy-in

This wealthy businessman wants to avoid the media and limelight, so he’s withholding his name. He is not a Las Vegas local, so this game can only occur as he makes his occasional visits to Sin City. Thus far, they’ve logged around nine hours at the table with Daniel up around $26,000. Running total +$626,000


The Daniel Negreanu challenge record stands at 4 wins, 4 losses, and one in-progress for a total profit of $626,000. At about 88 hours at the table thus far, that puts his hourly rate somewhere near $7,100 per hour. Not a bad two weeks at the office, I’d say. Casual fans may think that the pressure, attention, and money would have to wear on Daniel. It seems that most of these concerns are inaccurate. Daniel is a consummate professional. The long hours at the table would be a grind on anyone, for sure. But the money and pressure are nearly a non-factor for him. He enjoys poker. He believes in himself and his ability against anyone in the world. Theses games not only help to naturally promote his endeavors such as his video game and website, it also shines the spotlight of the poker world on the Wynn Casino. With more Greenstein vs. Negreanu grudge matches on the horizon and several other challengers awaiting their opportunity, it is obvious that the Negreanu open challenge will continue for some time.

Thanks for reading and this post was brought to you by bonus code 20BR at Partypoker

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