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Poker star alleges he is victim of extortion attempt during WSOP

Updated June 10, 2022 - 10:14 am

Daniel Negreanu’s unusual start to the World Series of Poker took a bizarre twist Thursday.

The Las Vegas resident and six-time WSOP tournament winner revealed in his latest vlog on YouTube that he is the victim of an attempted extortion.

Negreanu said he was ordered to pay $1 million by an anonymous man, who threatened to reveal the poker star has a second family in Lake Havasu, Arizona.

“These messages escalated to the point where they started to get violent, threatening,” Negreanu told the Review-Journal on Thursday night. “So, I brought in the authorities and whatnot. I think the most dangerous thing is it’s clear he believes it. He thinks this is actually true, which is the scary part.”

On his vlog, Negreanu read a text message he allegedly received and then posted an audio clip of a voicemail from a man who claimed the 47-year-old Poker Hall of Fame member abandoned his family and children in Lake Havasu.

The caller alleged that Negreanu’s family was evicted from their house and were forced to live with a neighbor while Negreanu relocated to Las Vegas.

“I just thought in the back of your mind you’d want to know what happened to your other family that you abandoned,” the caller said. “I got all kinds of people trying to hit me up, trying to make this go public. But I’m giving you a chance to make it right, man, just you know what I mean?

“You pay me off, whatever, I’ll keep quiet about it,” the caller continued. “I’ll sign a contract, but let me know.”

The caller also said 16-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, one of Negreanu’s rivals at the poker table, is involved and will pay him to expose Negreanu’s alleged transgression to the public.

Hellmuth, who tweeted Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19, did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.

“That had no impact other than clearly he’s lying now,” Negreanu said. “We already knew he was lying because we know none of this stuff is true. But then him throwing that in there added to this fabricated story.”

Negreanu told the Review-Journal he does not have any children or a second family and has never been to Lake Havasu, which is approximately 160 miles from Las Vegas.

“I didn’t even know where it was. I had to look it up,” Negreanu said.

Negreanu is No. 3 on the all-time tournament money list with more than $46 million in career earnings, according to the HendonMob.com.

According to Negreanu, his personal assistant previously received voicemails with similar allegations and threats from the same individual. He said he reported the extortion attempt to the FBI.

The FBI’s Las Vegas office has not responded to an email seeking comment as of Friday morning.

“My wife that doesn’t exist and my son that doesn’t exist, we did some digging and I think we found who those people are,” Negreanu said, “and I think we have a pretty good idea of who this person is that is making these threats.”

Earlier this week, Negreanu was accused by Sara Palmer, a poker player and self-proclaimed “conspiracy realist” of bumping into her and following her out of Paris Las Vegas after a WSOP event Sunday.

Negreanu posted a video of their interaction on his vlog Monday, which appeared to discredit Palmer’s claims. After the incident, Negreanu said his real wife, Amanda, encouraged him to hire personal security during the WSOP.

“We live in a society now where I feel like we’re facing a mental health crisis through COVID that we’ve never seen before and a lot more of these things are popping up,” Negreanu said. “In this last month I’ve had three instances of somebody with mental illness coming at me. The first one was mild, and then the second was a little more aggressive and then the third is a real threat.

“They say things come in threes. You don’t want that sort of thing to come in threes. It’s just put me on alert that there are a lot of people that are unwell and I’m in the public eye, so I’m a target.”

Negreanu is off to a slow start at the WSOP and has cashed in one tournament he’s entered this summer.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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