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Sep 05, 2019

Why Did Daniel Negreanu Split with PokerStars?

By RTR Dennis

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Daniel Negreanu has become synonymous with PokerStars throughout most of his career. He signed a deal to represent Stars in 2007 and has served as one of their faces ever since.

But Negreanu and PokerStars have finally decided to go their separate ways. The 44-year-old said that the two sides agreed to an “amicable split.”

The amicable part definitely seems true, because Negreanu has nothing but good things to say about his previous sponsor.

"It was a great run but we're no longer gonna be an ambassador for the company," he announced via Twitter.

"I worked with so many great people, some really good people at PokerStars. I've had the opportunity to travel the world, play in Barcelona, Monte Carlo, PCA which were three of my favorite stops. I wish everyone the best."

Rebecca McAdam Willets, who’s PokerStars’ director of group relations, wished Negreanu the best in his future endeavors.

"Daniel has been one of the most influential faces of poker and indeed PokerStars for 12 years, and it has been wonderful to have his passion, support and insights throughout our relationship," said Willetts. "We wish Daniel the very best for the future, as well as wedded bliss and tons of run good this summer."

Reasons for Negreanu Parting Ways with PokerStars

Negreanu hasn’t given a defining reason for splitting with his longtime sponsor. However, he did offer some clues in the video.

For starters, he recently got married to poker TV host Amanda Leatherman. The two have dated off and on, with Leatherman holding a special place in his heart for years.

“My life is headed in a new direction,” said Negreanu. “Gonna have some babies … I’m super excited about the future with my new woman. Love is in the air.”

The bachelor has settled down and is now looking to start a family. Traveling the world as part of an obligation to Team PokerStars probably isn’t the most-appealing idea now.

Another likely reason for Negreanu splitting with Stars is that he’s tired of defending them. PokerStars has made some unpopular moves in recent years, including raising rake and eliminating the Supernova Elite VIP level.

Negreanu would often stick up for them, even when they raised rake. Fellow pros like Joe “ChicagoJoey” Ingram and Doug Polk made fun of Kid Poker for defending the rake increase.

As Negreanu puts it, he’s glad to speak his mind without being accused of only sticking up for PokerStars. He discussed this aspect in a recent YouTube video:

"In a lot of ways, it's somewhat freeing," he explained. "For years, when I make a statement about poker, people say, 'You're just saying that because you're being paid to say that.' Which I know is not true.

“I could pass 1,000 lie detectors to prove that — but what's great about the situation now is I can go back to essentially making comments and statements about the poker community that I guess would have more credibility because of that.”

Negreanu continued by discussing how his years in the industry have given him insight on the poker business.

"I've had the luxury over the last 20 years of being on the inside when it comes to the business side of poker, the professional side of poker,” he said.

“I know what poker players are missing. I know what some of the people in business miss about what it's like to be a professional poker player. I'll still fairly discuss any issues, positive and negative, with them, with partypoker, with WSOP."

A Look Back at Negreanu’s Time with PokerStars

During the poker boom, Daniel Negreanu developed and worked on his own site, Full Contact Poker. It was successful enough to the point where a company offered him $170 million for the online poker room.

He was close to agreeing to the deal. However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was signed into effect in October 2006. The company quickly backed off, given that the UIGEA imposes severe banking restrictions on US-friendly poker sites.

The following summer, Negreanu signed a sponsorship deal with PokerStars in June 2007. He joined a team that included recent WSOP Main Event champs Joe Hachem, Chris Moneymaker, and Greg Raymer.

Part of the deal also included Full Contact Poker’s player base being integrated into Stars. But Kid Poker was still the main attraction of the deal. He became their greatest ambassador, showing up to all of their European Poker Tour (EPT) events.

It also helped that Negreanu experienced plenty of success on the poker felt. He was at one point the all-time leader in poker tournament winnings. He also boasts six WSOP gold bracelets to his name.

Many pros have parted ways with PokerStars in recent years. However, Negreanu had remained the one constant. He’s also become known as an ambassador for the game.

As discussed before, representing Stars hasn’t been the easiest thing to do lately. They’ve transitioned into an all-around gaming company and have made shrewd moves to maintain profitability in the poker sector.

After leaving the company, Negreanu no longer has to worry about defending PokerStars when players are annoyed. He now has the freedom to speak his mind without being accused of shilling Stars.

Most importantly, Negreanu has more time to spend with his new wife and to raise a family.