Today Daniel Negreanu is known across the globe as one of the finest poker players that the poker universe has seen. But there was a time in his career when he was just starting out and was trying to find his feat.
Then comes that one turning point in everyone’s life that changes a lot of things. For DNegs it was one poker hand that changed his life forever. He recently shared a post on Twitter that read, “The Hand that Changed my life US Poker Championship at the Taj Mahal in 1999 against John Bonetti,” followed by a link to the blog explaining the event in detail.
'The Hand that Changed my Life"
US Poker Championship at the Taj Mahal in 1999 against John Bonetti:https://t.co/OpwziNFLyd
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) January 24, 2023
Today, the six-time WSOP bracelet winner has appeared on several TV shows, videos, podcasts and streams, but there must have been a time when he too faced the camera for the first time. It was in 1999 when ‘KidPoker’ wasn’t as famous as he is today. A young player who had just won a WSOP bracelet in 1998, was making an appearance on a televised poker event for the first time. His first bracelet in 1998 had made him known among the poker peers, but winning a significant tournament on TV would mark a major breakthrough in his career. “I was 25 years old, a young buck on the scene,” he once quoted.
He sat on the final table of the U.S. Poker Championship in Atlantic City and was up against some of the top pros of that time on television. He eliminated Jason Viriyayuthakorn in third place, but when he was heads-up against John Bonetti, things weren’t going as smoothly for the Canadian. Bonetti was a well-established name in the circuit back then. Talking about Bonetti, the Canadian said, ““I was travelling the poker circuit and knew of John Bonetti; he was a big star at the time. I took a liking to him. He had a mafia vibe, but he was a jokester, always having fun.”
DNegs once described the situation, “We got heads up and I started to feel like the underdog against him. I felt like he was playing better than I was. Sometimes you can just tell; the guy was winning all the pots in the trenches, I was getting outplayed. I made a strategy shift. I understood that if I wanted to win, I’d have to take some risks.”
Negreanu with Q ♠ 9 ♠ raised from the button preflop. Bonetti, who had AT, called. The flop brought T ♠ 5 ♠ 3 ♣, which gave DNegs just 45% chance of winning. In that moment, Negreanu recalls having a conversation with himself about that change of strategy. “I talked about taking big risks. This was an opportunity that no matter what he has I can win – I’m drawing live. I called. We were basically even in chips, he had three or four big blinds left [over],” he said.
The turn brought an A ❤ , and his chances of winning further narrowed down, and he wondered if he had made a mistake. Talking about the heightening of emotions at the moment, DNegs says, “I have them even more now! The turn was the ace of hearts [made me] little anxious, like ‘Oh sh**, did I screw up? He turned aces and tens…. then I hit a spade.”
On the river came a 8s, which completed his flush. Negreanu jumped with joy as Bonetti’s face fell. “I busted him on the very next hand,” says Negreanu. I still have the check (pictured below), it’s on my wall. After I got that money, I jumped right into an $800/$1,600 game. This is before wiring money. I won some more and on the way home, I’m carrying the check, while in my bag was a pile of laundry and under that, all the money. I’m going back to Vegas literally advertising what I’d won.”
“In 1999, capping that off with a televised final, I went from the young rookie to the established threat, a real pro on the tour,” DNegs shared.
Photo credit: Mirror UK
Amarylisa Gonsalves is a Content Writer at Gutshot Magazine. Advancing from a marketing background, she found her calling in writing. She takes delight in exploring genres and is a curious learner. Patient and ambivert, she believes in letting her work speak for itself. Apart from content writing, she finds solace in writing poetry by expressing herself through words. Additionally, she adores indulging in anything that satisfies her creative self, like drawing and DIY crafts.
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