Folding into the money isn't really part of Daniel Negreanu's vocabulary, but there was more than money on the line during the final event at the 2013 World Series of Poker Europe. After a 25th-place finish in the WSOPE main event, Negreanu needed a top-eight finish in the 25,000 euro High Roller event to overtake Matthew Ashton and become the first two-time winner of the WSOP Player of the Year award.
As the final table approached, Negreanu watched as two short stacks held on to their tournament lives with just hopes of making ninth place and a 50,400 euro min-cash. November Niner Marc-Etienne McLaughlin went out in 10th, putting the final nine in the money. While that obviously pleased the rest of the competition, Negreanu wasn't quite smiling just yet. Sitting in eighth place at the time, Negreanu needed Joni Jouhkimainen to throw in his final few blinds and leave happily with a ninth-place pay day. He'd get that opportunity to watch and when the cards were turned up, Philipp Gruissem made Negreanu happy as his A-J held over Joukimainen's K-5.
Negreanu was elated as a result of his accomplishment and his giddy nature turned to gamble as play resumed. As if they weren't already, everything began to turn in Negreanu's favor. Holding 9-10, he managed a chop against Jason Koon (K-Q) to survive. Then he doubled through Erik Seidel and David Peters and of a sudden, Negreanu was in second place. With a new goal at hand, he refocused and eventually defeated Nicolau Villa-Lobos to win his second WSOP bracelet of the year.
"When I bought into the tournament, my intention was to win the event," said Negreanu to PokerListings. "That sort of got a little muffled when I got close to the spot where all of a sudden, you know, I've got the Player of the Year Award and I've got the bracelet. So I thought to myself, I'm going to worry about step 1, lock up player of the year, and then I'm going to win."
The win provided the Canadian superstar with 725,000 euros (US$979,955) and his sixth career WSOP bracelet. He has $19.5 million in career earnings, including $3.1 million in 2013. To go along with the cash, Negreanu also became the first player to make a final table at each of the three WSOP locations (Melbourne, Vegas and Paris).
"I've got to be honest with you, Player of the Year is a big a deal to me and it is a goal of mine every year," Negreanu said to the WSOP. "I'm going to win bracelets, I know that. I'm grateful to have six now, which puts me back in the race in terms of all-time, but Player of the Year, to win that twice when no one else has ever done that really just cements me belonging where I always felt I did -- at the top of poker."
The High Roller event at WSOPE made its debut in 2012 as a non-bracelet event with a 50,000 euro buy-in. Gruissem finished fourth in the event last year, third this year and in between, won the High Roller bracelet at WSOP Asia Pacific. Seidel, rebounding from a runner-up finish in Event 5, finished eighth for his 81st WSOP cash.
Below are the complete results of WSOPE High Roller Event:
Event 8: High Roller no-limit hold 'em
Buy-in: 25,000 euros
Prize pool: 1,920,000 euros
Players in the money: 9
1. Daniel Negreanu (725,000 euros)
2. Nicolau Villa-Lobos (450,000)
3. Phillip Gruissem (250,000)
4. David Peters (150,500)
5. Timothy Adams (100,600)
6. Scott Seiver (74,600)
7. Jason Koon (63,500)
8. Erik Seidel (55,400)
9. Joni Jouhkimainen (50,400)