The 2014 Big One for One Drop just ended. After three days of play a winner was finally crowned, as Daniel Colman took home the platinum bracelet and a $15.3 million prize. Arguably, however, and with all due respect to Mr. Colman, the “story” of the tournament was its runner-up, poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. Though he didn’t emerge the victor, Negreanu’s fame meant that he’d receive the lion’s share of attention from the assembled media (for numerous other reasons as well). There are lots of other great poker sites out there that you ought to check out to read more about how the event went down, but I’d like to shine a light on something that transcends the poker aspects of what just unfolded. The way Daniel handled himself throughout the proceedings is something we can all learn a lot from and exemplifies everything it means when we say that he is the #1 ambassador for the game. Positive virtues and noble character traits like the ones Daniel has exhibited are something worth emulating both at and away from the poker table. Here, then, are five life lessons we can learn from Daniel Negreanu’s 2nd place finish at the 2014 Big One for One Drop:
1. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
It costs $1 million to enter the Big One for One Drop, a fortune by any standards. It’s been said numerous times that perhaps only a handful of professional poker players have the requisite bankroll to be able to have all their own action in a $1 million buy-in event. Without knowing specifics of course, Daniel Negreanu is probably one of those players. After all, we’re talking about someone who bought in five times to a $100K event. Nonetheless, even the great “Kid Poker” understands that it’s silly to take on too much risk if it makes you uncomfortable.
Selling 50% of my action for One Drop. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details if interested in having a piece of me.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) May 14, 2014
2. Keep Your Eye On The Prize
It’s no secret that Daniel has taken on a new life attitude primarily as a result of his having attended the Choice Center. Among the noticeable public changes is his openly following the dictum of “Dream. Declare. Deliver.” and making his “intentions” known to all. Specifically as regards the Big One for One Drop, Daniel stated:
My intention for today is to end the day with 5 million in chips (start with 3) make the final table tomorrow and win it Tuesday night.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) June 29, 2014
Throughout the event, he maintained focus on trying to achieve the specific and overall goals he set for himself. Perhaps a second source of inspiration comes from Daniel’s love for the Rocky movies – he re-watches them all in a marathon every summer in preparation for the WSOP. In Rocky-speak then, the “eye of the tiger” is clearly something that’s “burning in his heart”.
While I’m honestly indifferent as to the motivation and source of Daniel’s newfound attitude, there’s no doubt that it’s the correct one and one worth trying to emulate.
3. Be Humble in Defeat
So often when a poker player busts out of a tournament, among the first things we hear them talking about is how they played, what they could’ve done better, etc. Daniel has been the quintessential sportsman about his runner-up finish, purposely going out of his way to compliment Colman on his great play and say what a great challenge it was to play against him. At times, he completely takes the focus off himself and redirects it at Colman.
Had a blast battling Daniel Coleman! Actually joyful and amazing experience. What a great player and great kid. Congrats to him.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 2, 2014
Furthermore, just missing out on an additional $7 million in winnings plus a WSOP bracelet would be tough for any poker player, much less one of the game’s top competitors. Nonetheless, any sort of disappointment Daniel may be feeling was practically absent. That’s truly incredible to have witnessed.
In interview after interview, both written and on-camera, Negreanu’s remarks remind me of how tennis’ Roger Federer spoke a few times upon losing in Grand Slam Finals to Rafael Nadal. If that’s not class, I don’t know what is.
4. Love What You Do
With tens of millions of people playing the game of poker worldwide, there’s plenty to love about the game. Thousands of players are professionals and make their living at the game. At its core, however, the game of poker is just something that’s fun and enjoyable. Sometimes professional players can forget that.
At the Big One for One Drop, regardless of whether it was when he was giving interviews to the poker media, chatting it up with fans on the rail, or often right even in the middle of hand, it seems as though a smile never left Daniel’s face. While I wasn’t there to see so with my own eyes and can only gauge via the pictures and videos posted on the big name poker sites, the fact is that none of the shots were “posed”. Negreanu doesn’t “smile for the camera”; he smiles because he’s happy.
While playing in one of the poker’s most prestigious events, for unprecedented earnings and glory, the overriding sentiment coursing through Daniel’s veins was that of excitement and appreciation for the opportunity. It’s almost as if the bracelet and the money somehow played second fiddle to the thrill. Now THAT’S passion.
I am having an absolute blast this summer “grinding” the WSOP and am partially sad it’s half over! Cherishing every moment doing what I love
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) June 19, 2014
5. Keep On Grinding
After someone goes through three days of intense play, a full round of media interviews, and pocketing over $8 million (well, half of that… see #1 above), you’d think that a little R&R would be the order of the day. Not so for Daniel Negreanu, who immediately upon his exit from the main stage jumped in to play the $10K 7-Card Stud Championship event. I’m positive that Daniel would’ve done precisely the same even if he had ended up the winner of the Big One for One Drop (although the interviews might’ve lasted a bit longer).
In life, we set goals for ourselves. If we work hard enough towards them and are fortunate, sometimes we will achieve those goals. But what after that? Sit complacently? Rest on our laurels? As Daniel illustrated so powerfully with his actions, life’s grind never really ends. You’ve got to keep on setting more goals for yourself and climbing ever higher mountains.
A role model if there ever was one, I wish Daniel continued success in being so inspirational to so many. You may have been the runner up in this event, but you’re the winner in our book.