WSOP 2011: The two Canadians that dominate the poker world
To those of us who became struck by the game of poker at around the time that the internet decided to be struck by poker too, the name Negreanu is one of the cornerstones on which everything else is built.
For me, reading books and internet sites about poker back then meant a zealous examination of everything Negreanu, from stories of his entry into the game; his fantastic success in what was then already an exotic filmed-on-a-hand-held-video-camera-from-the-rail contest known as the World Series of Poker, to his sparkling victories in the World Poker Tour complete with indoor fireworks and piles of cash that now amount to more than $14.6 million in live tournament winnings.
Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu
Negreanu is among the last of those pioneers who did things to old fashioned way, the last of the true romantics turning down the routines and potential security of the 9-to-5 world for the adventure of life as a gambler.
Having taken up poker as a teenager, playing in whatever games he could find, Negreanu soon dropped out of High School, taking instead a path that would lead him to Las Vegas, before returning broke to his home town Toronto. Undeterred he then came back to Las Vegas, this time good enough to stay, playing in the biggest cash games in the world.
But one title that eluded Negreanu was the WSOP Main Event title. To become the World Champions of poker is every players dream. A little more than a decade later another Canadian beat Negreanu to it, a 23 year old online cash game player named Jonathan Duhamel.
Before he wrote the headlines across the world, winning the November Nine and $8,944,310 only a few months ago, Duhamel had undergone a conversion more typical of the generation that followed Negreanu. Having got his education, Duhamel, like many players, found the daily grind of the outside world grew too much and sought to turn his passion for poker into a day job.
Team PokerStars Pro and reigning World Champion Jonathan Duhamel
Playing cash games online and playing a few tournaments in the United States, Duhamel scored a few modest cashes before heading to Europe, where he went deep in the EPT Prague main event, busting in tenth - an event that would ultimately be won by Team PokerStars Pro Salvatore Bonavena. It was 18 months before is tournament career pinged radars though, three cashes in the 2010 World Series, the last of them being the life changer that brings him here today.
Two different paths to the same destination and two stories still some way from being complete. Now Negreanu and Duhamel, Canada's two most famous poker players, return to continue their campaign for more WSOP glory, their stacks measuring 41,175 and 41,150 respectively - 13 years but just half an ante between them.
DAFT OUTFIT OF THE HOUR
Richard Wyrick, who played Day 1 dressed as Snow White, has spun round and around very quickly and transformed into Wonder Woman for Day 2. God help us if he makes it through to Day 5.
BREATH EASIER STARTS TO THE DAY
#1 Arnaud Mattern, up from 15,000 to 39,000
#2 Jason Mercier, up from 28,000 to 40,000
CHIP STACK ACCESSORY OF THE HOUR:
Rolf Slotboom, with customary packet of Tic Tac mints on top his tower of chips.
GRIPE OF THE HOUR
"They said they were only giving them to dealers now. They sit down all day long!" -- Concessions employee upset the bedroom slipper employee give-away did not include him
PRICES OF THE HOUR
Amounts Team PokerStars Blog has paid for a 20oz Diet Mountain Dew at three separate Rio-owned concession stands within a hundred yards of each other: $2.95, $3.25, $3.50
THE "I CAN'T BELIEVE THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES" TWEET OF THE HOUR
"Blinding out of the main event as we speak. @WSOPTD. What I wouldn't give for people to see what happened. This is absolutely devastating." --Carter Gill, after admitting to being 86'd from Harrah's properties for throwing a woman's clothes out of a hotel window during his day off before WSOP Day 2a.
NICE TOUCH OF THE HOUR
World Champion Jonathan Duhamel gave the order to Shuffle Up and Deal today, not before paying tribute to Michael Stevens and his friends who not only kept their promise to take Stevens to Las Vegas, but secured him a seat in the main event. Not only that, Stevens plays on in day two.
Michael Stevens with Jonathan Duhamel before the start of play
Stevens and his friends Dave Hughes and Mike Buttice were welcomed with warm applause in the Pavilion Room; Stevens suggesting that he and Duhamel have a little last longer bet.