BLUFF’s 2015 WSOP Countdown continues with the fifth and final entry in a series of statistical breakdowns meant to determine the greatest years put together by some of the best tournament poker players of all time.
Daniel Negreanu’s game and approach are tailor-made for the World Series of Poker, and for the last 17 years he’s been a constant and consistently successful on one of poker’s greatest stages. It started in 1998, when Negreanu won a bracelet in his very first WSOP cash, and it hasn’t stopped through two WSOP Player of the Year campaigns and at least a half-dozen of the best individual years ever put together at the WSOP.
Finding Negreanu’s best WSOP, then, has been the most difficult task out of the five players broken down in the ‘Me vs. Me’ series. There’s 2003, where he won a bracelet, finished runner-up and made three final tables in four cashes, and then his first run to WSOP POY in 2004, where he cashed six times, made four final tables and won his third career WSOP bracelet.
Then there’s 2008, where Negreanu started a run where he cashed at least eight times at the WSOP four times in seven years and won his fourth career bracelet. The most difficult exclusion comes with Negreanu’s 2014 campaign, where he actually earned the most cash of any of his runs at the WSOP and finished second in the Big One for One Drop among eight other cashes.
That leaves two years in particular to stand as Negreanu’s best – 2009 and 2013.
WSOP Cashes: 9 (3 final tables)
WSOP Earnings: $1,148,895
WSOP Bracelets: 0
There are five years at the WSOP where Negreanu won a WSOP bracelet, but 2009 – where he fell just short twice – still stands out as much, if not more than, four of those years. It started in the first few days of the 2009 WSOP, where he fell just short of the final table in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship, carried through a second cash a few days later in a Pot Limit Omaha/Hold’em event and hit its first peak in Event 14. The $2,500 Six Max Limit Hold’em drew 367 players, with Negreanu and Brock Parker as the last two players standing, and while Negreanu fell one spot short he did earn one of four career runner-up WSOP finishes.
Just a couple days later Negreanu hopped into the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo World Championship and made that final table too. He’d take fourth to eventual champion Daniel Alaei and runner-up Scott Clements, with John Monnette, Tom Koral and Annie Duke also at that final table. He’d cash four more times during the summer, with a 16th place finish in the $2,500 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw as his best result through the rest of the summer.
A year after finishing fifth in the WSOP Europe Main Event, Negreanu returned to London and made the final table for the second year in a row. In one of the most memorable editions of the WSOPE Main Event, November Niners James Akenhead and Antoine Saout, who were still awaiting the Main Event final table in Las Vegas, each made the final table, along with Jason Mercier, Matt Hawrilenko, Chris Bjorin, Praz Bansi, Barry Shulman and, of course, Negreanu. While Negreanu had Shulman on the ropes heads-up he couldn’t put the title away, settling for his second runner-up finish of 2009.
WSOP Cashes: 10 (4 final tables)
WSOP Earnings: $2,216,657
WSOP Bracelets: 2
Before the 2014 WSOP festivities even got underway in Australia, Negreanu made a prediction that he would be the WSOP POY. In the first ever edition of WSOP Asia-Pacific, Negreanu got four-handed in a Mixed Event that eventually went to Phil Ivey, but he’d come back and make his second final table of the series in the Main Event. Facing off with the likes of Antonio Esfandiari, Russell Thomas, Benny Spindler and Winfred Yu, Negreanu eventually outlasted them all and took home over $1 million for the effort, along with his fifth career WSOP bracelet.
He carried a big lead in the WSOP POY race into the start of the summer, but as he accumulated five cashes over the first three weeks of the 2013 WSOP he’d finish no better than 12th in the $2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event. As the calendar turned to July Matt Ashton, a young English pro who was crushing Mixed Events throughout the summer, had surpassed him for the overall POY lead.
With just a few events to go in the summer, Negreanu final tabled the $2,500 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw event along with Scott Seiver, David Chiu, Eli Elezra and David ‘ODB’ Baker. Negreanu finished second to Elezra, but even that would not be enough to push him past Ashton before the close of the summer.
Ashton’s lead seemed safe heading into the final two events of the 2013 WSOPE, but Negreanu made a deep run in the Main Event to put a scare in Ashton before bowing out in 25th. With just the High Roller to go, Negreanu had to make the final table of the High Roller in order to snatch POY honors in the last qualifying tournament of all. He eventually pulled it off on a precariously short stack, and what followed was a massive comeback that eventually led to Negreanu’s second WSOP bracelet of 2013, his sixth overall and almost $980,000.
There are a lot of similarities between the 2009 and 2013 runs Negreanu made at the WSOP, but one big difference seems to separate them in the echelons of his career. Whereas he finished second twice in 2009, Negreanu broke through to victory twice in 2013 – along with another runner-up finish. The means by which Negreanu called his shot in the 2013 WSOP POY extinguish almost all doubt that that was his finest showing – but considering the way he’s continued to roll in the years that followed, it might not stay that way forever.
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