Daniel Negreanu Wins Poker Players Championship, 7th WSOP Bracelet

For the first time since October 2013, Daniel Negreanu won a World Series of Poker bracelet. His seventh career victory at the WSOP came in one of the highest profile tournaments of the summer schedule, the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship.

Tim Fiorvanti
Jun 27, 2024
Daniel Negreanu won his first WSOP gold bracelet in over 10 years on Thursday in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. (Photo courtesy of WSOP)

In poker, three living icons transcend all others in terms of popularity and public awareness – Hellmuth, Ivey, and Negreanu. Over the last 20 years, every achievement and every deep run has simply felt bigger when any of them are involved.

So when Daniel Negreanu went more than a decade without winning a World Series of Poker bracelet – stuck at six WSOP wins despite actively chasing them as hard, if not harder, than any poker player in the world – that unlikely stretch became a weight hanging around his neck. Each close call and every cold run seemingly added to the growing pile.

But on Thursday evening in Las Vegas, Negreanu finally brought that drought to a decisive end in the most emphatic of ways by winning the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. The first-place prize of $1,178,703, the 10th seven-figure cash of Negreanu’s career, pushed Negreanu to No. 1 all-time on the WSOP’s top earnings list. But it felt almost secondary to WSOP bracelet No. 7 for Negreanu.

If Negreanu could have hand-selected a single event of the 99 live tournaments on the 2024 WSOP schedule to win, this would be the one he’d choose.

“This is the one where all the best players show up,” said Negreanu. “The structures are very long. It’s arduous. It’s a real grind to stay mentally sharp for five days. When you win this tournament, you earn it. There’s no fluke in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.”

Negreanu’s road to victory was emblematic of the persistent battle it takes to emerge as the champion of the Poker Players Championship. For the better part of two days leading up to Thursday’s finale, Negreanu spent time fighting back from the brink of elimination. His ability to survive on the shortest of stacks eventually opened the door for the opportunity that would eventually present itself.

“You saw that with Phil Ivey and you saw that with David Benyamine, too,” said Negreanu. “When you play these limit types of events, you just have to stay alive for your rush to come, because it will. Just because you’re down to two big bets doesn’t mean you’re out of it. You just have to stay in it and then win a couple pots. I’ve always been very comfortable short stacked and never give up.”

Even as the tournament seemingly started to go his way late on Day 4, the battle never really let up. Even as Ivey fell in seventh, and then Benyamine in fifth, Negreanu was on the ropes repeatedly, especially when the field got down to three with him, Chris Brewer and Bryce Yockey. The trio battled for hours, exchanging the biggest and smallest stacks repeatedly until Brewer’s pocket aces in No Limit Hold’em were his undoing in third.

Negreanu was left to battle Yockey heads up, and their heads-up showdown felt like a heavyweight boxing fight that went 10 rounds. Each fell into the danger zone multiple times, and Yockey seemingly had Negreanu on wobbly legs as they headed into the first break during heads-up action.

In that moment, down more than 2.5-to-1, even the supremely confident Negreanu felt as though yet another WSOP gold bracelet might be slipping through his fingertips as he walked away from the table and the bright lights of the stage. But in his weakest moment, Negreanu channeled his longtime fictional icon, Rocky Balboa, and pulled himself off of the mat.

“I really did feel like a moment where part of my mind started to think about, you know, ‘When you lose, what are you going to say about Bryce?’ And then I just said, ‘No, it’s my time. It’s my time. It’s mine.’ I’m gonna keep repeating it. It’s my time. It’s my time. It’s my time. And it was.”

Shortly after they returned to action, Negreanu took his stand in Pot Limit Omaha with an open-ended straight draw and a pair. Yockey, who has his own history of being snake-bitten in this exact event with one of the worst bad beats in poker history, was one card away from winning this tournament until Negreanu rivered trip deuces.

He emphatically jumped into the air in celebration, but the fight was not over by a longshot. Yockey pulled himself even, but with the limits growing ever bigger each pot grew in importance, it once again came down to one key hand. Negreanu’s two-pair bested Yockey’s two-pair in Seven Card Stud to all but wipe Yockey out, and despite one double-back for Yockey, Negreanu finally had the advantage to put Yockey out with a turned full house.

Tears filled Negreanu’s eyes as he held his seventh WSOP bracelet aloft and the assembled crowd repeatedly chanted “Daniel” in his moment of celebration.

It was as close to a perfect moment as Negreanu had experienced in his career, although there were a few idle thoughts about one particular way it could’ve been even bigger. Negreanu spent long stretches of this tournament playing against longtime friend and on-the-table rival Ivey, before the latter went out in seventh place late on Day 4.

That Ivey and Negreanu each went on their own decade-long WSOP bracelet droughts and ended them with a couple weeks of each other was not lost on Negreanu, and there were a few moments where Negreanu allowed himself to think about how it would’ve played out if it got down to just him and Ivey.

“Phil Ivey and I have been really close friends for a very long time,” said Negreanu. “In my mind, he’s the greatest player of all time across all the games, and I learned a lot from him. I had the opportunity to play with him a lot in this tournament, and I’m always looking to pick up things. When he busted, part of me [was disappointed as I] wanted to play him heads up for the title.”

Now that he’s finally reached seven WSOP bracelets and re-entered the top 10 of all time, the immediate line of thought turns towards how long it may take to hit No. 8. It’s unlikely to change much about his day-to-day during the WSOP, playing all the tournaments he wants as he creates his ever-popular vlogs. But with the pressure seemingly off his shoulders, Negreanu hopes the wait is considerably shorter than the 3,899 days he waited this time around.

“I’ve gotta be honest, having six was kind of embarrassing for me,” said Negreanu. “Like really, it’s just like I’ve played so many tournaments, you know, and I only have six, and Ivey has 11, all this stuff. I have too many second-place finishes. This feels like it changes things up, and maybe now I’ll just go on a run and win a couple more before the series is over.”