On Thursday, the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre in Toronto was filled with fans, friends, and family of Team PokerStars Pro and industry ambassador Daniel Negreanu. The world premiere of the PokerStars documentary Kid Poker produced by Francine Watson took place with the star and his family in the front row for the screening.
The documentary trailer, which was released back in August during Daniel Negreanu's Summer Party in Toronto hosted by PokerStars, gave glimpses of what to expect in the full length film produced by PokerStars. Starting out by going back to the early days of Las Vegas, his long-time friend and 2015 Poker Hall Of Fame inductee Jen Harman shared her memories of how the two began their careers together and how that bond is still as strong, if not stronger, today.
The film starring Negreanu and his big brother Mike Negreanu, along with some of the most recognizable faces in poker, brought out a crowd for the sold-out event. Over the years, many people have seen Mike Negreanu in the crowd next to the most famous Mom in poker. Mike brought a significant and emotional tie to the documentary, offering an inside view of the loving and supportive family behind the world's most famous poker player.
Among the poker pros who were interviewed for the documentary were John Juanda, Jason Mercier, Antonio Esfandiari, Vanessa Selbst, Phil Ivey, Maria Ho, and John Duthie, founder of the European Poker Tour (EPT), all of whom agreed that there is something remarkable about Negreanu.
The perfect venue for a red carpet screening, the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre is a beautiful five-story complex at the corner of King and John Streets in the heart of downtown Toronto, built to showcase some of the most critically acclaimed films featured during the Toronto International Film Festival.
The night wouldn't have been the same without the exceptional style of Gregg Zaun, legendary MLB catcher and Sportsnet baseball analyst. In a city where the beloved Toronto Blue Jays just missed out on the World Series, fans of Negreanu took the opportunity to snap selfies with the legendary baseball star.
Gerry Dee, star of the successful TV comedy Mr. D and one-time PokerStars Ambassador, was also in attendance to support his friend. Negreanu was featured in the episode "Poker Night" on Mr. D. The two got to know one another during filming and, like so many others, Dee was drawn to Kid Poker's personality and they became good friends.
Also in attendance were some of his closest friends and family from Toronto. Many of them saw him grow up in the local pool halls and card rooms. Some could also be recognized in the home video clips of the family’s backyard BBQs that were included in the film. Poker players Steven Kerr and Pat Pezzin, who have played with Negreanu in recent years, also took part in the exclusive screening.
The reaction from the crowd was overwhelmingly supportive of the documentary, giving a standing ovation when the final credits rolled. Most went in expecting to watch the success story behind the six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and all-time money list leader, but nobody was expecting the story of love from family and friends who were obviously a crucial part of Negreanu’s incredible success.
Questions from how poker has changed over the years, to a few old friends having the chance to reminisce memories of the good ol' days were answered by Negreanu as this very special evening came to an end. To find out more about the Q&A, be sure to follow the coverage on PokerNews Canada throughout the weekend leading up to the world's first public broadcast on TSN4.
Want to learn more about the film and event? Check back soon where we will feature more photos, film recap, and comments from others who attended the world premiere in Toronto on Thursday.
Don't forget to mark your calendar for Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 8:30 p.m ET to see the film for yourself on TSN4.