10 Things You Didn't Know About Daniel Negreanu
1. He's a committed vegan
Negreanu's mum might have tried to steer him down a healthy eating route, with packed lunches winning out over McDonalds, but when he hit Vegas as a poker pro his diet suffered. 'I ate the typical meat-heavy diet of most poker players in the 90s,' Negreanu said. 'Burgers and steak, along with French fries, mash, and a bucket load of wine, beer, and vodka. There was nothing fresh in my diet and I felt terrible.' He gave up meat in 2000 but really started focusing on his food in 2006 when he went vegan. He now considers himself a 'student of nutrition', gets tips online and eats a completely gluten-free diet. So what does the world's most successful poker player eat on tour? Protein bars, coconut water, almond milk, chia seeds and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
2. He wanted to be an actor
When Kid Poker was just a kid he dreamed of making it as an actor. At the age of 12 he auditioned for the role of Tommy in the movie The New Adventures of Pippy Longstocking. He says he aced it and was one of six kids to get a call back, but the film was shelved. That wasn't the end of his fledgling acting career though. He was offered the lead role of Seymour in the Little Shop of Horrors musical at Vanier High School, but turned it down as he was worried about his vocals. He relented when his teacher told him the geeky Seymour wasn't supposed to be a good singer.
3. Wasn't that...?
Eagle eyed poker fans might have spotted Negreanu in a couple of high profile cameo roles from 2009. In X-Men Origins: Wolverine you can find him in a funky yellow shirt playing poker with Gambit. Wolverine tries to join the game but gets short shrift and a mocking glance from Kid Poker. His poker moves might be his own but we doubt he's worn the shirt since - not even Negreanu could make those collars work. He was also tapped up by Katy Perry for her Waking Up In Vegas video. Perry gets the better of Negreanu, winning a monster pot in a poker hand that was made for Hollywood. He gets it in with Kings against Aces, flops quads and still finds a way to lose the hand. What are the odds?
4. He wanted to be a professional pool player
It seems that Negreanu was destined to find fame and fortune on the baize... When he was a teenager he wanted to be a pool pro and spent his teenage years at the Palace Club Billiards hall hustling people and playing the weekly pool tournament. The Fall Classic was the big annual pool event and Negreanu remembers 'ripping through the field' one year and making the final. His opponent was Paul Chan, someone he'd already beaten earlier in the day, but he couldn't get past him a second time. Chan denied him the title in a thrilling 3-2 reversal but Negreanu got $500 for second place, his biggest cash at the time. The pool hall was where he learned the rules of poker and pool was put on the backburner when he moved to Vegas to make it as a pro.
5. He went on The Millionaire Matchmaker
Negreanu was prepared to go the distance to find his soul mate and that led to an appearance on the American reality TV show The Millionaire Matchmaker. Patti Stanger's show tries to match a millionaire with his/her ideal partner but, as Shakespeare said, 'The course of true love never did run smooth.' That was certainly the case for Negreanu whose Vegas date started off badly when the air conditioning on his private jet failed and ended when his date passed out on him mid-kiss in the early hours of the morning. You can get the full story from Negreanu himself here.
6. He's taken the Oath of Allegiance
Negreanu might be a proud Canadian but he became a US citizen earlier in the year, clearing him to vote in the 2016 presidential election. On March 10 he tweeted, 'March 12th is my citizenship ceremony as I officially become a US Citizen. I felt it was important to get it done in time to cast my vote!'
7. He's a big Game of Thrones fan
Negreanu likes his TV shows but he's a hard man to please. Breaking Bad didn't completely float his boat but he is a big fan of The Sopranos and, more recently, Game of Thrones. And while Negreanu might have it all - the hi-tech house complete with arcade cabinets and a giant TV that swivels through 360 degrees -it's the small things that give you the most pleasure. On a tour of his crib (see video) Negreanu geeks out over a customised 'House of Negreanu' Game of Thrones boxset that plays the theme tune when you lift the lid, answering the question, 'What do you get the man who's got everything?'
8. He loves playing soccer
An avid soccer player ('I live in the U.S. and am from Canada. The game here is called soccer, deal with it'), Negreanu is left-handed, right footed and likes playing on the left wing. Figure that one out. He was never a prolific goal scorer, although he claims he was quick and a decent passer, and he still dreams of the time he scored the winning goal in his playoff final. With the score at 0-0, Negreanu latched onto a high ball and knocked it over the head of the advancing goalkeeper into the top corner. It doesn't work out so well in his dreams. 'When I dream of that moment the ball... hits the crossbar. I could never figure out why that is...' Negreanu rekindled his love of soccer in Vegas recently, hiring the coach of the Las Vegas Legends indoor soccer team to improve his game.
9. He plays a mean game of Hearthstone
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is an incredibly addictive collectible card game played online and in eSports arenas around the world. Negreanu was in Monte Carlo when he first heard poker players talking about it and downloaded it when he got back to his hotel room. He was supposed to be at a party at 9pm ('I was all dressed up'), started playing at 8.30pm and realised he probably wasn't going to make the party at 4am. He plays a pretty good game - perhaps not surprising for someone so adept at the intricacies of poker strategy - and his Hearthstone moment came at the World Championship at BlizzCon. He took on fellow pro poker player and professional gamer Bertrand 'Elky' Grospellier in a custom-built cube in front of a rabid crowd. Negreanu won the match 3-1.
10. He's a huge hockey fan
Negreanu was born with a hockey stick in his hand and he grew up sweating his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. In the past couple of years he's been campaigning for a Las Vegas NHL franchise and during the 2016 World Series he got the news he'd been hoping for. Traditionalists might be up in arms about the prospect of an NHL team in the desert but Negreanu thinks it's a perfect fit. Vegas already has a custom-built arena on The Strip ready to host the games in the 2017 season and Negreanu is now pondering whether to invest. 'I wouldn't buy a piece because I thought it was a good investment or a bad investment,' he said. 'I'd just do it because it's cool for me to say I own a piece of an NHL franchise.'
The Daniel Negreanu documentary KidPoker is available to watch now on Netflix in the following countries: USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand