ON THE BUTTON: With poker pro Daniel Negreanu

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Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu is a Team PokerStars pro from Toronto. He’s an accomplished tournament and cash player who has amassed five World Series of Poker bracelets and two World Poker Tour titles. He ranks sixth on the all-time money list with more than$17 million in earnings. In April, he won the inaugural WSOP Asia-Pacific main event for $1,038,825. Our Mike Owens caught up with Negreanu after that thrilling victory.

How does the new bracelet feel on your wrist? It’s a little big, but that’s OK because it fits in nicely with the collection and I don’t actually wear them. They are more like trophies.

Can you talk a little bit about how it went at the final table? I had a lot of fun. When I have fun, good things happen and it was a really good, laid-back atmosphere, which serves me well usually.

What are your goals coming into this year’s World Series of Poker? To kick some butt. Now that I have a nice lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race, I plan on playing a full schedule to give myself the best chance of winning it.

How do you manage to balance your personal life with your busy travel schedule? I don’t allow myself to be on the road for more than three weeks at a time. When I am home, I hang out with friends and take time away from the game and don’t really play at all outside of tournaments.

What did you struggle with in your game at the beginning? I was a bit of a bull in a China shop. I was just always aggressive and didn’t have enough flow to my game. That style worked great in Toronto where I could bully everyone. But when I tried that in Las Vegas, they bullied me back and I needed to learn to tone it down and adjust to improve my table image a little.

Have you ever worked a regular job in your life? I was a “Sandwich Artist” at Subway for a while. Have been a dishwasher, busboy, worked a salad bar and spent a day as a telemarketer, but that job really sucked.

How were you as a student? I did great in school, when I attended. I got really good grades in junior high school, but then when I made it to high school I started playing pool, and then poker, and going to class wasn’t a priority in my life so my grades suffered. By the time most kids were finishing high school, I was already making more money than my teachers.

What did your parents think of you being a poker player? My mother warmed to it as I had more success but my dad passed in 1996 so he never really had a chance to see me succeed.

Away from poker, what’s something people would be surprised to know about you? That I like to read a lot. Often self-help-type books like Eckhart Tolle, etc.

What’s your favorite hand? 10-7 offsuit.

If you could invite any person living or dead to your home game, who would you choose and why? Jesus. Because I have a lot of questions for him.

What advice would you give a player thinking about turning pro? Educate yourself by learning from others. Sites like my training site, PokerVT, books, forums, or talking about poker with friends you respect.