This May on 888poker's podcast, Daniel Negreanu was in the passenger seat next to David Tuchman. The show uses the same idea as Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee but with poker personalities. Tuchman has a unique set of duties for this podcast. He's got to keep his eyes on the road, obey the traffic laws, and make sure to keep the questions flowing.

888Ride is used to getting plenty of high-profile players to tell all. Phil Galfond, Mike Matusow, Brian Rast, and Maria Ho have all been on 888's podcast since it started 6 years ago.

It's hard to think of a better podcast guest than Daniel. A titan of the game and a Poker Hall of Fame inductee, Negreanu has amassed over $50 million in live tournament earnings, cementing his status as a true legend in the global poker arena. Despite playing through different eras of the game, he's done his best to disprove the "Old dogs can't learn new tricks" mantra. Negreanu continues earning a great living while becoming more of an ambassador for poker each year.

This episode takes listeners on a journey through Negreanu's remarkable career, from his humble beginnings in Toronto to his rise as one of the most respected and accomplished figures in the world of poker.

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Daniel Negreanu's Formative Years

Born to Romanian parents, Negreanu speaks fondly of his childhood in Canada.

"Toronto was a great city to grow up in," Negreanu reminisced. "People probably don't know this was like a gambling Mecca, in a lot of ways."

"Gambling surrounded us, in a way"

Long before he'd proven himself on the poker felt, Daniel had to compete with his mother's judgement, though his father seemed more optimistic.

"Even when I started playing poker, I remember my mom was all worried becuase she was worrier. She was like, "Daniel, forget about poker, you go to school".

But my dad was like, "He'll be all right. He'll figure it out. He's making some money here and there. He's making moves." He got that aspect a lot
more than my mother.

My mother finally came around after I bought her a house and a car and she's like, "Oh yeah, poker's okay".

Before Texas Holdem, Negreanu found love for a snooker. The game is second in popularity 8 ball and 9 ball now, but it wasn't in Daniel's younger days. At the tender age of 13, probably barely tall enough to reach over a snooker table, he was in the mix. Daniel recalls playing video games in the arcade next door and seeing the pool hall. Unable to go in because of his age, he had to bide his time, but he quickly fell in love once he could enter.

The handicap scoring system and tournaments were a great match with Daniel's personality.

"I was always a numbers nerd and love that sort of competition. So yeah, I got fully into snooker."

Some of the guys who played pool, they're like, "Oh let's go play some poker".

The stakes weren't high, but Daniel found himself "hooked" on the $10 poker nights. After a month or two, he found himself winning. It was at this time that he realized how important VPIP was. After noticing a player folding often, but usually winning when he continued, he knew he didn't have to play every hand to win money. He called this "epiphany number one".

Another player who came up in Daniel's era is Phil Hellmuth. He had an epiphany too, but his happened as stepped outside to call for a taxi in Madison, Wisconsin.

Phil Hellmuth sat down with Craig Tapscott and dove deep into his past, present, and future – both inside and out of the poker world.


Changes to the Poker Hall of Fame and Moneymaker's Induction

Tuchman brings up the Poker Hall of Fame and the slow rate of induction.

By the way, we've also got a Hall of Fame. Let us know if you agree with our selection of poker legends.

Reflecting on his own induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014, Negreanu candidly discusses the institution's past methods and hopeful future changes.

"When the media had a vote – all due respect to them – they have no idea in terms of what the actual criteria used to be about.

It wasn't a tournament idea. It was about you know who plays in Bobby's Room and who's the best. Who do their peers respect? The David Oppenheims the Ray Dehkharghanis – the names that the media don't even know.

They're going to go, "Oh, Chris Moneymaker! I know him!" But if you think of a Hall of Fame and what it represents in other sports, it's not about a nice guy.

It's not about a good guy.

It's not about a popular guy.

It's about the numbers. Do they have the results to get in?"

For the readers who haven't skimmed the Poker Hall of Fame induction criteria, here it is:

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition.
  • Played for high stakes.
  • Be a minimum of 40 years old at the time of nomination.
  • Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers.
  • Stood the test of time.
  • Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.

So what changes does Daniel think could improve the Poker Hall of Fame induction process?

He proposes expanding the annual induction quota to two players, a move that would better acknowledge the depth of talent within the poker community and address the backlog of deserving candidates.

Furthermore, Negreanu advocates for the creation of a separate category to honor industry contributors, such as Isai Scheinberg and Matt Savage. "Comparing Josh Arieh to Matt Savage is like comparing apples to oranges," he points out, recognizing the challenges in evaluating nominees from different spheres of the poker world.

Daniel is clear about who should be deciding on Hall of Fame inductees. He pointed to ACR Poker's Chris Moneymaker as an example of what can go wrong.

"I still think it's important that you know it's the players themselves that make the votes."

"I love Moneymaker, but I thought, him getting in was a sign of like, this isn't what the Hall of Fame was supposed to be about. It's changed. He doesn't meet the criteria as a player. He doesn't. So does he meet it as an industry person? If he's graded on that, you can make a case, but the two were supposed to be separate as written."

Tuchman asked about Daniel's support for Isai Scheinberg, the mysterious Lithuanian Jewish founder of PokerStars.

In Daniel's mind, he's earned Hall of Fame status based on his contributions to online poker, the players, and the game in general.

"If you think about Isai Scheinberg, you think about a Builder category. I mean what the hell, they should name the Builder category after him, right?

Not only did he create the largest online poker room which brought thousands or millions of players to poker and to the World Series of Poker itself, but in addition to that, was the big Black Friday event. He was the savior. He came in and rescued the poker community when many people's entire bankrolls were in there and he did, quote-unquote, the right thing.

So, I think it's silly to think that anyone (and with all due respect to the others) think that if you're going to have a Builder go in, that it's not him.

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Daniel Negreanu's Dad Felts Him and Keeps the Cash

David asked his passenger to remember his first time gambling. Surprisingly, his early real money gambling experience came from within the family ranks.

Daniel – "Yeah, $2 a game."

David – "Would he take your money?"

Daniel – "Yeah, oh 100% he would take money, yeah. I mean, not like it mattered right? If I ever needed money they would give it to me. But yeah we played $2 a game and I remember when I beat him, I would frame the $2 basically."

For the rest of the interview, Daniel talked about his plans for the future and recent successes. We wrote about the fantastic start he had to 2024 and you can read about it here:

After Daniel Negreanu's disastrous performance in live tournaments throughout 2023, the Canadian GGPoker pro has started 2024 on the right foot.