So, farewell then, Daniel Negreanu, without peer as the finest poker ambassador of the entire era where such a thing was even possible.

When Negreanu started playing poker, the thought of it being on TV was so far fetched as to be ridiculous, and the thought of it being played on the internet was simply nonsensical. The game existed only in a handful of casinos and the kind of underground clubs in which he cut his teeth. Playing it on the computer had not yet even been dreamt up.

Fans pack the Rio rail to watch Negreanu

But as poker landed on the small screen, and then became the online sensation we all still know, Negreanu was always the brightest star. He brought the game to people who might never have discovered it: they saw him, a regular, approachable guy, chit-chatting, laughing and smiling, even as he won (and sometimes lost) hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But come what may, Negreanu would be back the next day, smiling and joking again. He would meet triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same–always ready to stop on the halls and pose to photos with fans, always fielding the same dumb reporters’ questions with fairness, honesty and patience. He was that guy who everyone knew, and knew they liked, even if they didn’t know poker at all. He was, in a word, ambassadorial.

We need not overstate it. Poker and PokerStars would have succeeded without Negreanu. The game is too compelling and the company too well organised for it to have been any other way. But there is no doubt Negreanu was the most valuable asset PokerStars could ever have asked for, and a catalyst for great and positive change.

Kid Poker when he was still a kid

He was a perfect fit for the most successful online poker operator, and he will leave a huge hole on the Team Pro roster. PokerStars owes the Canadian superstar an enormous debt of gratitude, and so does the game as a whole.

This is not an obituary, of course. He remains arguably more full of life now than at any other time, looking forward to married and then family life, just with a spade-shaped gap on his sleeve. He is a Poker Hall of Famer, a six-time WSOP bracelet winner, and is still second on the all-time tournament money list.

He will remain the game’s most recognisable face and its most sought after character, and we wish him all the very best for the future from PokerStars Blog.

THE BEST OF NEGREANU ON POKERSTARS BLOG

How Daniel Negreanu Plays a Short Stack
They were six deep on the rail at the 2016 WSOP and Daniel Negreanu made sure no one went home disappointed.

WSOP: Then and Now
KidPoker recalls his first experience of playing the WSOP, and compares it to how it is these days.

Negreanu’s November Nine Near Miss
A heart-breaking moment, captured by Joe Giron’s award-winning photograph and Brad Willis’s report, when Negreanu missed out on the November Nine by the narrowest margin.

Missing the WSOP final table

On How TV Changed Poker
He was the first and the brightest TV poker star, and here Negreanu opens up on how the small screen changed the game, and how the game changed the small screen.

Negreanu Wins Bracelet No. 6 a WSOP POY
Here’s the thing about Daniel Negreanu: he wasn’t just a TV star. He was, and still is, among the very best poker players in the world, and shows no sign of letting up.

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