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Despite aces debacle, Daniel Negreanu wins overall PokerGO title

Daniel Negreanu ended up smiling Wednesday, but not before nearly tumbling to the floor.

Negreanu claimed the overall title of the PokerGO Cup when Cary Katz defeated Sam Soverel heads-up to win the $100,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em tournament series finale at the PokerGO studio by the Aria. Katz took home $1.058 million for beating the field of 23 entries, and Soverel got $644,000.

About two hours earlier, Negreanu finished fourth in the same event for $230,000 when his pocket aces were cracked by Soverel’s pocket eights, with Negreanu nearly falling out of his chair in disgust after an eight hit the turn.

Negreanu would have clinched the overall title by finishing third, but his chances seemed doomed with Soverel, who needed a win to take the overall title, holding a big chip lead.

Instead, Katz, the founder of PokerGO and the only nonprofessional in the field, came back to win the event and hand the overall title to Negreanu.

“I’ve never rooted for a billionaire to win a million dollars more than I did just now,” Negreanu told Katz, a businessman, after his win.

Katz survived an all-in on the first hand of the final table, then steadily caught up to and pulled away from Soverel heads-up.

“Doubled up the first hand, and then it was smooth sailing from there,” Katz said.

Negreanu received an extra $50,000 for winning the series title, which came a day after he broke a tournament winless streak dating to 2013 with a victory in the $50,000 buy-in PokerGO Cup event for $700,000.

Negreanu could laugh afterward, but he said the loss with aces brought back bad feelings after a recent run of high-profile defeats, including in heads-up challenges with Doug Polk and Phil Hellmuth.

“It was like the thing from the day before didn’t even happen. It was just, like, a fresh wound,” Negreanu said. “… To just get past that, it feels like it opens me up to be a little more free and not have as much anxiety.”

Negreanu, a 46-year-old Las Vegas resident, has more than $42 million in career tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database, and six World Series of Poker titles.

After the past two days, he said he feels re-energized, and he hopes to carry over his momentum to the ongoing WSOP Online events and the live WSOP at the Rio in the fall. He also wants to keep battling the young high-stakes pros at PokerGO.

“I’m never going to sit back on what I did 20 years ago,” he said. “I want to still fight with these guys. … I don’t see a time in my life ever where I’m still alive and I’m not still trying to compete with these whippersnappers.”

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