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Poker superstar ends ‘embarrassing’ slump, wins 7th WSOP bracelet — VIDEO

Updated June 28, 2024 - 3:59 pm

Daniel Negreanu has been one of poker’s most visible ambassadors over the past 11 years, working to grow the game and his own personal brand.

But a World Series of Poker victory eluded the Las Vegas resident during that time.

“It was frustrating and frankly embarrassing,” Negreanu said in an interview Friday with the Review-Journal.

His slump ended late Thursday after he won the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship. Negreanu defeated Bryce Yockey heads-up at the Horseshoe Events Center to earn the $1.17 million first prize and the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.

It is Negreanu’s seventh career WSOP bracelet, which are awarded for tournament victories, and first since he won the WSOP Europe High Roller No-limit Hold’em in 2013.

He is the 10th player in history with seven or more bracelets.

“The number of events I played, to be stuck on six for so long is wild,” Negreanu said. “I’ve had so many near-misses and second places and a lot of frustration with that. To have a final table where the crazy, bad thing didn’t happen was just a massive relief.”

The PPC is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the schedule. It annually draws the world’s top mixed-game players to compete in nine variants of poker.

Negreanu and Yockey traded the chip lead for nearly three hours before the tide turned on a hand of Pot-limit Omaha. With Negreanu all-in for his tournament life and down to his final card, he hit one of his 19 outs to score a key double-up and take over the chip lead.

“That was obviously a huge catch, a huge spot for me. It was the most pivotal hand of the entire match,” Negreanu said. “On the flop I felt very confident, but when I didn’t catch on the turn, and now we were in a 50-50 situation, I was like, ‘No. Come on, baby. Come on.’ I summoned every bit of praying to the poker gods I could.”

A few hands later, Negreanu owned a 3-to-1 advantage over Yockey. The match ended less than an hour after that.

In the final hand, playing Pot-limit Omaha, Yockey check-raised with flush and straight draws. He then called when Negreanu, holding trip sevens, forced him all-in. Negreanu made a full house on the turn to render Yockey’s draws irrelevant and seal the victory.

Yockey, a poker pro residing in Marina del Rey, California, was seeking his second bracelet this summer and the third of his career. He earned $768,467 for second place.

The win made the 49-year-old Negreanu the leader in lifetime WSOP earnings with over $22.4 million, passing Antonio Esfandiari ($21.9 million).

Negreanu finished runner-up five times since his last WSOP win. He lost nearly $750,000 at the WSOP last year and finished down $1.1 million in 2022.

“The 50K is a massive grind, all the top pros, super long structure. It’s five full days, 12-hour days,” Negreanu said, adding that the PPC is his favorite event on the schedule. “It’s a real tournament. This isn’t a tournament that you can fluke, so it has a little bit of extra prestige to it.”

Fantastic finish

Argentina’s Franco Spitale claimed the $1.25 million first prize in the “Millionaire Maker” No-limit Hold’em event after an incredible final hand against American Justin Carey.

Spitale and Carey were all-in before a flop of five-two-10 gave Carey a set of twos and a 97 percent chance to win the hand. However, an ace on the turn made Spitale two pair with ace-10 and boosted his chances of scooping the pot to 9 percent.

With Spitale’s rail chanting “Messi, Messi” hoping to channel one of his four outs and some luck from Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi, an ace came on the river to give Spitale the winning full house.

Spitale dropped to his knees in disbelief after the fortunate runout and was showered with beer as a wild celebration ensued.

Mixed-game master

Yuri Dzivielevski captured his fifth bracelet in the past five years when he won the $3,000 buy-in Nine-Game Mixed event Sunday.

The 33-year-old poker pro from Brazil earned $215,982 for the victory and pushed his career WSOP earnings past $4.4 million.

“I think each bracelet has a special feeling, a special memory. I cannot compare it to other bracelets,” Dzivielevski told WSOP.com. “It’s always an amazing feeling, I can’t explain how amazing it is.”

Italian pro breaks through

Dario Sammartino of Italy took his name off the list of best players never to win a bracelet as he took down the $2,500 buy-in Stud/Omaha Eight-or-Better early Thursday.

This was Sammartino’s 24th appearance at a WSOP final table and his third time getting heads-up. He was second in the 2019 Main Event and now has almost $12 million in career WSOP earnings.

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

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