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2007 World Series: Part 2 - $2,000 Stud Final Table With Daniel Negreanu

Part 1

Ten years ago, Daniel Negreanu found a role model in Greg Pappas. Today, they are peers, with even Greg admitting that Negreanu has become a much better player over the years.

"Luckier for sure," Daniel said last night.

Now a seasoned pro, Negreanu has become a role model to many and a mentor to some others. Today, Daniel's protege sits on the rail watching him. Amazing, I think, what can change in ten years.

Twelve years ago, Daniel was a nobody and was amazed at how old-timers didn't give a damn what he thought. Now, there's a line of people out the door who would give up just about anything to spend a year under Negreanu's tutelage.

Greg Raymer appears over my shoulder. He's on break from the $1,500 no-limit event and asks about Daniel. As I'm answering, Greg looks up to the rail.

"Hey, there's my mom."

I've been around Greg at many tournaments and he frequently has family on the rail. This is the first time I've seen his mom.

"Everybody give a big round of applause for 2004 World Series champion!"

The tournament director has noticed Greg and re-introduced him to the crowd. A round of applause rises above the table chatter and Greg gives a polite wave.

After stepping up onto the stage, he walks first to Greg Pappas and takes his hand. "I'm supposed to support all the PokerStars players here," Raymer says, "but you're my oldest buddy here."

There are three kinds of poker players here. There are the Greg Pappas types who have been playing for years but have never been on TV. There are the big-name TV players like Daniel Negreanu who have celebrity as big as their bankroll. And then there is everybody else--up-and-comers, internet ballas, hopeless hopefuls. In this case Raymer has chosen to single out Pappas for a handshake. It's a gesture that says something about the nice guys in the game. Both Gregs are.

As the applause dies down, Jeffrey Lisandro wins a hand and is greeted with complete silence.

The TD asks the crowd, "Jeffrey wants to know what he did that you're not cheering for him?"

Maybe it's fear, but the crowd explodes in cheers, maybe not even sure what just happened. A smile--rare at the table--spreads across Lisandro's face.

It's not too much later that Daniel gets rolled up jacks and gets two callers to fifth street. He has a look on his face that says, "This is the way the day is supposed to go."

Out of the next hand, he makes his way back to the media table and digs into a bag from Bellagio. My stomach still grumbling for something--anything!--Daniel pulls a sandwich and chips out of the beige plastic.

"Portobello! That's good stuff right there," he says.

Just then, I get a sensation like Sigourney Weaver must have felt in Alien when the creature suddenly appears over her shoulder. In my peripheral vision, I see the boom cam descend from above and settle on my left shoulder. It's aimed right at Daniel's munching face.

He says exactly what I'm thinking. "This is really strange. I feel like I'm talking to an alien."

Still munching, he's back to the stage, explaining to the TD why he doesn't like to shake hands, and winning another hand. He's still the chip leader and doesn't look like he wants to give up the spot.

Nor, I think, does it appear he wants to give up his sandwich.

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