“IN ROMANIA I feel at home.
I really like Romania!”
“Poker is growing in Romania, the fact that Eureka took place in Bucharest is a very important thing.
If we have more poker in Romania, we’ll have more Romanians attending tournaments in Europe.”
Eureka Poker Tour sponsored by PokerStars, an Amaya Inc. brand, is a circuit of poker tournaments taking place in some of the most exciting poker destinations in Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2010, Eureka Poker Tour has provided a total of 11.8 million euros in prizes for the Main Events of the tournament and has hosted several successful festivals across Europe. Between May 16th and 22nd, together with the most important organizer of live poker tournaments in Romania – PokerFest, Pokerstars brought to Bucharest, Eureka Poker Tour, a 7 day festival attended by Daniel Negreanu, member of the Team PokerStars Pro. The special guest of Eureka Poker Tour Bucharest, Daniel Negreanu, world poker legend, launched in Romania on this occasion the documentary “KidPoker” produced by PokerStars Original Films. Successfully launched in Canada, the documentary calls for a detailed insight into his life and career. It will be released worldwide this summer.
We had the pleasure to talk with the man Daniel Negreanu, who is proud that his parents were born in Romania and that they have taught him to speak Romanian.
Hello, Daniel and thank you for the time you’ve granted us for this interview for the Casino Life & Business Magazine.
Hello and thank you for your interest and it is a pleasure to talk to you.
Welcome back to Romania. You came back after 6 years. How does Romania seem to you now?
Yes, I came back after 6 years, but at that time I stayed just for three days. Romania is beautiful. I stayed longer, almost 1 month, 10 years ago. And I liked it very much! But before, 30 years ago, I saw that it was not good at all, it was not so nice in Romania. Because I saw people standing in line to buy bread… Now it is WOW, it is a wonderful country. It’s just like in any developed country in Europe. I really like Romania.
With your participation in Eureka Poker Tour in Romania, do you believe that our country can find a place on the European poker map?
Yes, absolutely. Anyway, I can see poker in Romania is growing in general. And the fact that a stage of Eureka happened in Bucharest is very important, especially now, at the first Eureka stage in Romania. If the tournament will have 5-600 players, participants, it will be fine. It means it is a great and important step, if that happens at this first stage. And then, it will grow from stage to stage. And maybe then, European Poker Tour will also get to Romania. If high roller players are attending, then everything will be fine. Anyway, a good thing already happened: taxes. I learned that the law has changed in this respect. Foreigners who take part in the tournament, no longer have such a big problem with taxes. Before changing the law, it was not ok. And this helps poker festivals, casinos, tourism and why not, Romania in general. I believe that Eureka is important for Romania.
Indeed, Romania has taken significant steps on legislation in this area. Tell me please, you have entered ”Poker Hall Of Fame” in 2014. How do you feel being part of the elite of the poker world?
To be included in the Hall of Fame… it was a wonderful feeling. I knew I would be a part of it, I was informed about it and it did not matter so much to me. But afterwards, when I was there and I realized what I accomplished, I started realizing what that meant. I realized that I had achieved something, I remembered how I started. How I worked for poker for 10-12 hours a day. And I got into the Hall Of Fame, which practically means to be respected by others that play, I felt in my heart in the end, that I am indeed important. When I go to a tournament I always think I will win. I fear no poker player. However, if I have to name someone, that will be Phil Ivey. He knows exactly how I play and I know how he plays. When we meet at the poker table is quite difficult, because he knows I know he knows that I know how he plays.
You got here through the years you played poker, very long hours.
Yes, money earned, money lost. Today on plus, maybe minus tomorrow. For example one day I won $ 700,000, but the day after I lost 1,300,000. In total, in two days I was in the red zone by more than half a million dollars. I learned more in those two days. But I do not regret anything. That’s what I love to do and how I got into the Hall of Fame.
Now you’re basically working, at Eureka Poker Tour Romania.
Yes, right. It is a normal day of work for me. My great luck is that work is what I like most, to play poker. I am happy with this job.
How does a day in your life look when you’re not at work or when you are not playing poker, be it live or at online tournaments?
I’m enjoying all the days I do not play poker. When I am at home in Las Vegas, I am not allowed to play online poker game, I do not play poker at all. When home, after I wake up, I go to the gym for 1 hour, and 3 times a week I go play football. So I enjoy sports, I eat well to be healthy. I have friends whom I stay at home with and I feel ok. I like to stay at home. Because when you are on the road, as I am now at this tournament, you’re tired. If you have two weeks like I had, with all the traveling and the tournament, when I get home I sit in bed. I do not go clubbing and lose the nights, do not drink until 4-5 in the morning… When I was younger, I was different, the atmosphere in Las Vegas… But now, not anymore, no time to lose nights.
Among the Romanian poker players, I know that you know and appreciate Mihai Manole. Besides him, do you know other players? Do you think there are others who can get to win a major tournament?
Yes, of course. Romanian poker players are growing, developing. For example, recently, I got back from the European Poker Tour tournament in Monte Carlo. A high roller tournament, with input starting from 25,000 euros and I finished at number 15. And the one that beat me and won the tournament was the Romanian Alexandru Papazian. Yes, there are Romanians at major European tournaments. But not as many as those in Germany, for example. But in Barcelona I met many Romanian players. First we must have and see more poker here in Romania. If you have more poker in Romania, we will have more Romanians at the tournaments in Europe.
What advice can you convey to our readers who want to transform poker from a hobby into job? How long can it take for one person to abandon the traditional workplace, to live only from poker money?
If someone has a job, a workplace, my advice is to continue for a year with his job and play poker at the same time, and after a year, see how it goes. If you get to make more money playing poker than in classical work, you can just leave the job and stickwith poker. But not from the start, not suddenly. Anywa, you do not have to give up your job without playing one year. You can not say I am done, I will drop everything and I start playing poker. Because there is a difference when you play poker and you have to necessarily win to live. If you have money from another activity, from the job, you can play comfortably, but if you do not have any money and you have to play poker to pay for the house or a car, and you lose this hand and you have nothing, it is not good… It is not indicated. For many people, it can not be possible. They must play wisely, carefully, responsibly. I think poker is a game for everyone, but not everyone will win. You have to be smart, it’s not easy.
We were pleased to see the preview of the documentary about you. “KidPoker” presents its audience with a very personal insight, from childhood spent in Canada and continuing with initial experiences in live poker in small rooms in Toronto and up to high-stakes tables in Las Vegas. However, the documentary shares your moments of success from broadcasted events and all stages that you went through before you got to being a professional poker player. How was it to play your own part?
From a 10 minutes movie we got to do a documentary. And it was not just about poker but also about my life, about family, about my life’s story. I’m not born here, but my father was born in Iasi, my mother in Brasov and they always taught me to speak half in English, half in Romanian. It’s nice to go back to Romania, I was here 6 years ago but for only three days. I wish I could stay longer, to visit as many places. But I have to play. This time I will stay a whole week in Romania, but I will spend it keeping my focus on poker within the Eureka tournament.
When you heard that you will participate in Eureka in Bucharest, what you originally thought about, besides the poker tables and the tournament itself?
I thought about family, people, because when you are here, – unfortunately my parents are no longer alive-, I feel closer to them, my parents, my family. They were born here, they helped me learn what it means to be Romanian. And here I feel at home, with people like me, with Romanians, because I have many Romanian friends in America. They have taught me to speak Romanian, they taught me that polenta must be hard…
Thanks for your time and good luck at the tables!
I thank you and all Romanians, because I feel you close to me