The past few months have not gone quite well for Daniel Negreanu when it comes to his poker pursuits. In February 2021, he lost a massive $1.2 million to long-time rival Doug Polk after a marathon heads-up grudge match which began in November 2020.
The Canadian poker pro then challenged Phil Hellmuth to be his next heads-up opponent after the latter criticized his performance during his bout against Polk. Both legends agreed to battle it out on PokerGO’s new show High Stakes Duel. Hellmuth conquered Round 1 which took place in March, and then followed it up with another victory during their second encounter earlier this month.
Is Negreanu’s Legacy At Stake?
As a result of his two straight losses, Negreanu is currently behind by $150K and needs to shell out another $200K for Round 3. Many were betting on the GGPoker Ambassador to crush Hellmuth who has always been the subject of criticism within the poker community because of his “GOAT” claims. But things went the other way around.
Hellmuth has been out there proving his doubters wrong, defeating his friendly rival twice. Now, a lot of poker fans believe the pressure has now shifted to Negreanu – that he should redeem himself during Round 3 of the match, else his legacy will be tainted.
Some think Negreanu badly needs to win in his heads-up match against Hellmuth at least to make up for his failure to capture major titles in the last seven years. He has been on the hunt for a seventh bracelet since his last World Series of Poker (WSOP) victory in 2013, but has met with very little success.
He did come close to winning one in 2019 when he booked runner-up finishes in a $100K No-Limit Hold’em High Roller tournament and in the $10K Seven Card Stud Championship.
Negreanu’s latest first-place victory happened six years ago, during season 2 of Shark Cage where he won $966,000, and nothing followed after that.
Not winning titles for several years and losing two high-profile heads-up matches would put a dent to Negreanu’s legacy, some might think. But for those who are closely following his poker career, “DNegs” has nothing left to prove.
Negreanu Will Always Be An All Time Great
Even Polk, who recently defeated Negreanu, doesn’t think an ultimate loss to Phil Hellmuth would hurt the Canadian’s poker legacy. The Upswing Poker founder noted that both are playing in sit-n-go format which involves a small sample size, and that won’t be enough to measure a player’s true abilities.
Negreanu doesn’t need to prove anything in the first place. He has already established himself as one of the best poker players of all time. His exemplary record is something every poker pro could only dream of. Negreanu’s WSOP achievements alone are remarkable.
He has six bracelets – he won the first one back in 1998, making him the youngest bracelet winner in the tour’s history, a record he held until 2004. He was the first player to win a bracelet at different WSOP tournament locations (Las Vegas, Europe, and Asia Pacific). So far, he has recorded 103 WSOP money finishes, including 36 final tables.
Apart from that, Negreanu also holds two World Poker Tour titles and was named 2004-2005 WPT Player of the Year. He held on to the top spot of Hendon Mob’s All-Time Money List for a long time, before being taken over by Justin Bonomo in 2018 (Bryn Kenney now holds the number 1 spot). Negreanu currently ranks third, with more than $42 million in total live earnings.
Apart from massive achievements in the live tournament scene, the Canadian poker pro also found huge success in his cash game and online poker pursuits. He was inducted to the prestigious Poker Hall of Fame in 2014 and is widely considered one of poker’s greatest ambassadors.
So even if Negreanu doesn’t win Round 3 of his High Stakes Duel match against Hellmuth, and despite not winning any titles in the years to come, Negreanu’s legacy will remain strong, and he will always be considered an all time great.