2013 Poker Person of the Year: Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu is my official selection as the 2013 “Poker Person of the Year.” [see footnote below]
Although several people made significant impacts on the game over this past year, no one matched Negreanu’s overall influence as a player, advocate, and outspoken critic — always with an independent voice.
I’ll explain why Negreanu is the obvious choice for 2013, shortly.
First, let’s revisit the criteria I set forth for selection.
From my previous article, which included my ten nominations for this year, was the following statement:
Following the criteria set forth by Time (magazine), being selected is not necessarily an endorsement, nor even an award. It does not confer approval of the person’s deeds and actions, nor are the nominations limited only to poker professionals. Being chosen simply means the person has impacted the game more than anyone else over the past year.
Read the full article here: POKER PERSON OF THE YEAR: MY TEN NOMINEES
Before proceeding, I wish to acknowledge the contribution of Steve Ruddock to this discussion. Following my article which was posted last week, Ruddock offered his own assessment at PokerForums.org, including an excellent retroactive list of choices for “Poker Person of the Year” had this conferment been in effect over the last ten years.
In fact, Ruddock’s choices (2003-2012) are superior to my own. I encourage you to read his article which is posted here: MY HISTORICAL PICKS FOR NOLAN DALLA’S “POKER PERSON OF THE YEAR” AWARD.
Consider this an open invitation to Ruddock to join me (and a few others to be determined) in making this an annual undertaking, starting in 2014.
Now, let’s take one more look at the my ten nominees, as well as those who were nominated by others. I’ll also discuss why each of these other choices didn’t quite match up to the person who was ultimately chosen. Just in case this isn’t clear already, all opinions here are strictly my own.
Sheldon Adelson — He made more money than anyone else on this list, by an astronomical margin. But so far, his impact on poker has been negligible. Despite his billions and what seems an obsessive opposition to online poker, Adelson’s actual influence on the game has been nil. Oh, he does own a pretty nice poker room at The Venetian. Otherwise, his influence has been a joke. He’s been reduced to laughing-stock status among the poker community.
Rep. Joe Barton — Give the Texas congressman lots of credit for putting up a courageous fight for the rights of poker players. But other than producing a few nice sound bites at recent hearings, no actual results have been produced so far.
Gov. Chris Christie — New Jersey made headlines as the first state with a significant population base to legalize online poker. But the actual role of Gov. Christie appears to be pretty one-dimensional, and even open to question at various points in the deliberation process. Apparently, he was swayed by other political figures in New Jersey, most notably State Senator Ray Lesniak.
Mitch Garber — The head of Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) would easily make any list of the most powerful figures in the game today. That said, others were probably bigger this past year in terms of accomplishment and public recognition.
Lonnie Harwood – Probably the best “feel good” story of the entire year, Harwood grinded her way from up the money ladder from smaller tournaments on the circuit to the best year ever at the WSOP by any female in history. Had Harwood parlayed that success elsewhere, she might have received more consideration. Perhaps Harwood can post even bigger results in the future. We’ll see.
Phil Ivey — Other than being famous and still the most feared player in the game, as well as an icon in the public eye, 2013 wasn’t really a banner year for the great one. Has anyone figure out yet what “Ivey Poker” is all about?
John Pappas — The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has a spotty record, and I’ve been at the forefront of much of the criticism. That said, Pappas has somehow held this organization together. He also enjoyed his greatest success this past year, testifying before a House subcommittee recently and working tenaciously behind the scenes for poker players. I fear losing Pappas and hope we can keep him dedicated to the good fight.
Ryan Riess — Good story. Good young man. Quite an accomplishment. Other than winning the world championship, there’s not much else worth mentioning. Somehow, I don’t think Riess will lose any sleep over being rejected.
Matt Savage — Maybe the most influential person in the game in many ways, especially on the tournament side of the game. I think most will agree Savage deserves a nomination, but others were more significant in the ways they impacted the game over the previous year.
ADDED NOMINEES (by readers):
New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak (via Earl Burton — Good choice as someone who drove the fight for online poker’s legalization in New Jersey, who influenced the game in ways we have yet to fully appreciate. That said, his reach has been regional, and not global.
Patrick Nally, President of the International Federation of Poker (via Earl Burton) — I like this nomination a lot, and have met Nally twice. He could be a huge game changer should he continue to advance poker’s designation as a mind sport. Nally is someone to watch in the future, especially as a global influence.
Mike “Little Man” Sica (via Michael Borovetz) — Sica passed away last month. He embodied everything good about the game, and was one of the most liked players among his peers. No doubt, Sica will be sorely missed. Not sure he belongs in this conversation, but if we agree that a great many people were influenced by his example, then Sica will hopefully live on in spirit forever.
And now, on to Daniel Negreanu and why he merits being selected as the 2013 “Poker Person of the Year.”
First, let’s talk about one of the most astounding years ever in tournament poker. Here’s a partial list of his accomplishments:
– Bluff — Player of the Year (official)
– Card Player – Player of the Year (current rankings)
– World Series of Poker — Player of the Year (final results)
– Global Poker Index (GPI) — Currently ranks second to Ole Schemion
– Won two WSOP gold bracelets, including the inaugural WSOP-Asia-Pacific Main Event Championship as well as High Roller title at WSOP-Europe
– $3.1 million in live tournament winnings this year.
Oh, and then there’s the media personality known as Daniel Negreanu. By way of his blog, videos, and Titter — he’s become the game’s Coca-Cola and Budweiser. In poker, he’s everywhere. He commands what’s believed to be the biggest financial sponsorship deal in the game (likely on par with what major athletes earn elsewhere in endorsements), as a Team Pro for PokerStars.com, the world’s largest online poker site. In short, no poker player in the world is more read, watched, and influential.
Then, there’s the controversy. Even when he’s wrong, as he sometimes is, he initiates and then drives the discussion, which in the process gains our attention. This was certainly the case during last summer’s hotly-watched debate between Negreanu and the Tournament Directors Association (TDA). Even though I sided with the TDA on the issue being discussed, one had to acknowledge Negreanu’s profound impact. No other player could have possibly raised the debate to such a high level of awareness, simply by speaking out.
Add in the daily role Negreanu plays as a poker ambassador, and the choice is even more obvious. Then there’s the things you don’t see — the innumerable cozy photos, autographs signed, public appearances, one-one-one discussions, and all that goes with being a celebrity. In summary, Negreanu has monstrous tournament results. A huge impact on the game, And status as the public face of poker in what’s the prime of his career.
Daniel Negreanu is the most deserving choice as the 2013 Poker Person of the Year.
As for what’s ahead for Negreanu in 2014? In a text he just sent moments ago, prior to posting this in his own blog, Negreanu’s goal (he says) is to win three WSOP gold bracelets in 2014.
See more of Daniel Negreanu at his site here: www.danielnegreanu.com
Footnote – “Poker Person of the Year” — All Rights Reserved (media may use this designation with proper attribution)