Cast your mind back to 2003. Online poker is barely out of the diaper stages, a few hundred players is considered 'big' for a live tournament field and your Nokia 3220's spluttering through another game of Snake between dinner breaks. There's no four-tabling Zoom on your iPhone, no Super High Rollers, few 1,000 plus fields and even fewer poker millionaires. But one constant from today's world remains. And that constant is a successful Daniel Negreanu.
The much-loved Team PokerStars Pro was a big name in 2003. He's a colossal one now. In a game where players can easily disappear after a one-night stand with success, his legend continues to grow at a rate few can match. Don't just take our word for it, though, take the Global Poker Index's. Earlier this month, Negreanu was gifted a late Christmas present (or early, depending on your point of view) when he was crowned 'best player of the decade' by the independent poker ranking service. The reward capped off a rich 12 months that saw Negreanu claim a career-high $3,208,630 in tournament earnings, two major titles and unquantifiable amounts of kudos, back-slaps and high-fives. When lumped in with the previous nine years and more than $10M in extra earnings, it's fair to say the going's been good for Kid Poker for some time.
So as the clock resets for another year, and the Super High Rollers trade blows in the opening rounds of PCA 2014, Negreanu gave us a quick chats about his latest trinket, the recent months, years, and decades, and what the future might hold. Here's what he had to say:
You've questioned the importance of all-time money lists and the like previously, but do you view your GPI reward differently?
"The GPI is a great barometer. You have a three-year scale, so it has a little more weight, and I like the way they do it. I think it's the best system we have. It's something for people to look at, whereas before no one really knew who was the best, and I think it's great for broadcasts when you can see this guy's ranked number three, or this guy's number 7."
With all you won in 2013, GPI included, it was officially your best year in poker. Would you agree on a personal level?
"No, I'd say 2004 was slightly more exceptional in terms of points and accomplishments. I won two World Poker Tour events, and a bracelet. I won four major events with $10K buy-ins or bigger and overall stats wise it was just a slightly more impressive year. But the terrain is tougher now, and the feats of last year are very high on my list."
Can you pick a highlight from the past decade?
"The last event I won in 2004 was really cool [WPT Five Diamond Classic for $1,770,218]. It was bottom of the ninth and I had to win to claim all the player of the year awards. If I had to pick from last year, I'd say the WSOPE High Roller because of the way it happened. I came in as the short-stack and was really trying to sneak my way to Player of the Year, and then I book-ended the year with a bracelet at the start, and bracelet at the end."
What do you attribute the success of last year to?
"I went to a place called Choice Centre and did a course on emotional intelligence where I dug deep and got a bigger view of what holds me back. I broke through that. It was empowering, not just for me as a poker player but for anything you want to do in life. I'm 100% certain that the confidence that I gained through the course ultimately is the big catalyst for why I had a good year. Right away I made three Main Event final tables in a row. It just seemed easy."
Do you have goals coming into 2014?
"I have goals at the start of the every year. I achieved 9/10 in 2013. I wanted to become all-time leader on the World Poker Tour, and I'm still second, but I didn't play many events. The goals are a little different this year. I'm planning on scaling back a bit to play 52 events, compared with 66 in 2013, and to spend a little more 'me' time."
Consistency has kept you at the top of the game for longer than most. Is being hungrier a major factor?
"I don't really believe in being hungrier. You're either hungry or you're not. I've erased words like 'bit' or 'very' from my vocabulary. And I'm hungry in 2014."
And now you can watch a PokerStars.tv interview with him below...
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Keir Mackay is a copywriter for PokerStars.