Daniel Negreanu Leaves PokerStars in 'Amicable Split'
The most high-profile sponsorship in the poker world has ended.
Daniel Negreanu will no longer sport the red spade, representing PokerStars everywhere he goes. He and the world's leading online poker provider have come to an agreement on what "Kid Poker" called an "amicable split."
Negreanu had been the most visible member of PokerStars Team Pro since 2007, which he called "an incredible run."
"It was a great run but we're no longer gonna be an ambassador for the company," he said in an online announcement. "I worked with so many great people, some really good people at PokerStars. I've had the opportunity to travel the world, play in Barcelona, Monte Carlo, PCA which were three of my favorite stops. I wish everyone the best."
"I worked with so many great people, some really good people at PokerStars.”
Rebecca McAdam Willets, PokerStars associate director, group public relations extended the company's well wishes, in turn.
"Daniel has been one of the most influential faces of poker and indeed PokerStars for 12 years, and it has been wonderful to have his passion, support and insights throughout our relationship," she said to PokerNews. "We wish Daniel the very best for the future, as well as wedded bliss and tons of run good this summer."
Negreanu's Long History With PokerStars
Originally, Negreanu played a major role in funding and building his own poker site, Full Contact Poker.
However, in June 2007, Negreanu reached an agreement with PokerStars to join their ambassador team alongside notable former World Series of Poker Main Event champs Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem. Full Contact Poker was migrated into PokerStars and the site reverted to simply being host to Negreanu's blog, forums, podcasts and other media.
Negreanu became a regular face on PokerStars' European Poker Tour and other international events. While he never managed to win a prestigious EPT title, he did make a few final tables, finishing fourth at EPT Grand Final in 2013 for €321,000, and cashed in a few $100K events at PCA and other stops.
While other stars from the early 2000s such as Hachem and Barry Greenstein faded from the spotlight and had their sponsorships lapse, Negreanu continued to carry the flag and remained one of the game's brightest stars. His profile only rose over the years as he became poker's all-time tournament money leader — since surpassed by Justin Bonomo — and evolved his game to continue to succeed against the new generation of crushers.
In recent years, Negreanu has been a lightning rod for criticism out of some corners as both he and PokerStars took some stances that proved unpopular with sectors of the poker community.
When PokerStars controversially cut high-volume rewards and hiked the rake across a number of games, Negreanu rationalized the changes, to the consternation of countless pros who hoped he would fight for their cause. In the process, he became a favorite punching bag of popular content creators like Doug Polk and Joey Ingram, who made a running gag out of Negreanu's defenses for the rake increase.
Then, some of his posted opinions ran afoul of popular "The Chip Race" podcast hosts DK Lappin and Dara O'Kearney, who went after Negreanu on their blogs, resulting in a back-and-forth spat.
That one turned nasty, as did a heated exchange with Shaun Deeb in early May that saw both parties throwing insults and discussing a bizarre bet on which man would stay married longer.
Leaving on a High Note
Through it all, Negreanu remained and still does remain one of the most, if not the most, popular poker player in the world. He hopes fans will get to see him in a slightly different light now, and people around the industry will understand that the opinions he's voiced over the years don't necessarily come from on high from his sponsor.
"In a lot of ways, it's somewhat freeing," he said in a video blog. "For years, when I make a statement about poker, people say, 'You're just saying that because you're being paid to say that.' Which I know is not true — I could pass 1,000 lie detectors to prove that — but what's great about the situation now is I can go back to essentially making comments and statements about the poker community that I guess would have more credibility because of that.
"In a lot of ways, it's somewhat freeing."
"I've had the luxury over the last 20 years of being on the inside when it comes to the business side of poker, the professional side of poker. I know what poker players are missing. I know what some of the people in business miss about what it's like to be a professional poker player. I'll still fairly discuss any issues, positive and negative, with them, with partypoker, with WSOP."
Freshly married, Negreanu also said some things that evoked Jason Mercier's 2018 exit. He hopes to start a family in the coming years and said the split with PokerStars is just part of his "life taking on a new direction."
"I'm super excited about the future with my new woman," he said.
The Stars Group owns a majority shareholding in iBus Media.