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2017 WSOP: Day 2c

Steve Marcus

Daniel Negreanu competes during day 2c of the World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

Daniel Negreanu got married two weeks ago but will have no extended honeymoon period or settling-down process — not professionally at least.

Already synonymous with the World Series of Poker, Las Vegas’ most popular card player plans to be more ubiquitous at the Rio than ever before over the next month and a half as more than 80 championship tournaments play out.

“I’m doubling my schedule this summer,” Negreanu said a couple days before marrying partner and fellow poker personality Amanda Leatherman. “Normally, I play an event every day, but I’m going to, for the first time ever, play even the smaller buy-in events. I’m playing them all.”

The 43-year-old Negreanu has seized the poker spotlight to an extent that’s even a little foreign to him recently. In addition to what was akin to a royal wedding in poker circles, he announced a split with longtime sponsor and online giant PokerStars, and sold a portion of his WSOP action to fans through his web site last week.

Shares sold out in less than five minutes, though a glitch allowed purchases to continue and left Negreanu issuing a large amount of refunds.

Those who got through have already benefited in two days since the WSOP opened, as Negreanu advanced to the first final table of the summer, in a $10,000 buy-in super turbo bounty event. He ultimately finished in sixth Thursday afternoon for $52,099, his 111th career WSOP cash.

But there was no time for celebration, as Negreanu immediately registered for his next tournament.

“It’s 100 percent tied to winning the WSOP Player of the Year,” Negreanu explained his frenzied approach. “I’ve won it twice and no one else has won it twice, and one of my goals is to win it a third time before anyone else hits two. The way the points system is now, that’s not feasible unless you play the small events too.”

The next event up is small in terms of buy-in but massive when it comes participation and anticipation. The Big 50, a celebration of the WSOP’s 50th anniversary with a rake-free $500 entry fee, got started Thursday with the first of four starting flights.

More than 5,000 entrants turned out on Day 1A, with larger fields expected through Sunday in an event that’s highly attractive to a wide array of players for more than just the price tag. A slow structure intended to mirror the $10,000 buy-in Main Event, which is considered poker’s world championship and takes place in June, is another selling point.

“I believe very sincerely that the Big 50 will be the biggest live tournament in poker history,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said. “It’s the lead element of this year’s event for a reason. It really showcases the fact that the modern World Series of Poker is something for everyone.”

The Big 50 has a guaranteed $5 million prize pool and $1 million first-place payout, though the figures are likely to be much higher when official registration numbers are tallied on Sunday. Negreanu is determined to win it, and not primarily for the seven-figure prize.

That would be a nice bonus, of course, but he’s already got seven million-plus tournament paydays throughout his career and is instead driven by something else. He wants to win a seventh WSOP bracelet, which are awarded to the winner of every official WSOP event, after being shut out for the last six years.

And he doesn’t want to stop at one victory at this year’s series either.

“I set lofty goals, and my goal is, I want to win three bracelets over the summer,” Negreanu said. “It’s been done by several people, and I want to be added to that list.”

Five players have previously won three tournaments in the same year at the WSOP in Las Vegas, though none since Jeffrey Lisandro pulled off the feat in 2009. Expanding fields make it increasingly difficult, and the WSOP has set records for total number of entrants throughout the summer in four of the past five years.

But Negreanu considers it attainable and says a steadfast belief in his abilities is one of his greatest assists. So what else is he aiming for at the 2019 WSOP?

“I think WSOP Player of the Year and three bracelets will be good enough,” Negreanu laughed.

The World Series of Poker can sometimes have a transient population. Players can be ever-present one summer and then disappear the next.

Cutting down on his volume isn’t in Negreanu’s plans, though. He’s played in every World Series of Poker since his breakout first bracelet win in 1998 and said he would do so, “until I’m dead.”

“Even the first day of preliminary events, it’s so exciting,” he said. “It’s like summer camp for poker players. This is the pinnacle.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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