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Daniel Negreanu ends heads-up skid, wins $700K at PokerGO Cup

Updated July 13, 2021 - 6:44 pm

Daniel Negreanu hadn’t won a poker tournament since 2013, and his critics have made sure to keep him informed of that fact.

Now, they’ll have to find a new talking point.

Negreanu won the $50,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em event at the PokerGO Cup, defeating a field of 35 entries to earn $700,000 on Tuesday at the PokerGO studio by the Aria.

“The hard part for me was emotionally,” Negreanu said. “After that many years of seconds, it literally weighs on me. When I’m sitting at a final table, I’m like, ‘Don’t come in second.’ That’s all I’m thinking. Anything but second.”

Besides coming up short in tournaments over the years, Negreanu also suffered two high-profile heads-up defeats this year, first losing $1.2 million to Doug Polk in a challenge match, then losing three straight heads-up matches to Phil Hellmuth for a total of $350,000.

Negreanu, a 46-year-old Las Vegas resident, has more than $42 million in career tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database, but his last official tournament victory came at the 2013 World Series of Poker Europe. He had 10 second-place finishes in the interim, according to the Hendon Mob.

Negreanu said bad feelings from all his defeats flooded in again Tuesday, when he appeared to be on the cusp of victory against David Coleman. Negreanu called Coleman’s all-in with ace-jack, then hit a jack on the flop to take the lead over Coleman’s pocket threes.

But Negreanu’s thoughts of victory were dashed by a three on the turn, and he said he felt “the demons and the ghosts in your brain,” comparing it to Bill Buckner’s notorious error for the Boston Red Sox during the 1986 World Series.

“All the memories,” Negreanu said. “You know the flashbacks in movies before you’re going to die and you see all the things in your life? I see every one of the beats and all the second-place finishes and me standing saying congrats to the winner, like over and over, and thinking of the gracious things I’m supposed to say as a loser.”

Negreanu took back the chip lead and got a second chance to oust Coleman with king-ten against pocket fives. This time, fate smiled on him with a ten on the river to win the tournament.

Coleman received $455,000 for his fourth cash in seven events at the PokerGO Cup.

Negreanu didn’t take any time to celebrate. He jumped right into the PokerGO Cup finale, a $100,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em event that concludes Wednesday.

Negreanu said he enjoys testing himself against such elite fields of high-stakes players.

“If you really, really want to say you’re the best tournament player in the world or you’re among them, then you need to compete against them,” he said. “And they’re here in droves. This is the spot.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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