Daniel Negreanu’s 5 Tips for Playing the World Series of Poker

This year’s World Series of Poker starts on May 31st and runs to the end of July. In poker tournament terms, it’s the big one. The WSOP is moving this summer from the Rio Hotel and Casino to Bally’s and Paris on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.

In order to help players who might be heading to Vegas for the first time or just making the switch from the Rio to Bally’s and Paris, we spoke to perhaps the biggest name in poker history, Daniel Negreanu.


‘Kid Poker’ tells us about his own plans and has a few inside tips on how to make your own journey to poker greatness as easy and enjoyable as possible.

  1. Accommodation

On the subject of the move to Bally’s and Paris, Negreanu is acutely aware that this is a very big year for land-based and online poker players. Could the year of transition be too much of an unknown or will it all work out?

“We’d been at the Rio for 17 years and I think it was fantastic,” says Negreanu, who himself has won six WSOP bracelets. “People bitch and complain, because that’s what they do, they’re poker players. But the parking was perfect and it was an ideal convention space. You’re going to have Day 1s in Paris and Day 2s at Bally’s.”

Negreanu usually has his RV parked right outside the Rio, so he has immediate access to his own space — and bathroom. This year, it could be a little different.

“I was a little concerned we might not be able to have that this year, but we’ve made it work,” he says. “I don’t know how far it’ll be, so I’m going in a little blind, but I imagine if there’s a restart at noon, people might struggle. There’s a one-lane highway or you’re on the Flamingo crossing the Strip, which is jam-packed on weekends. I’ll scope it out before I go in there.”

The twin concerns many players have relate to parking and traffic. Negreanu has some advice for them, as well as outlining plans for the return of his hugely popular daily video blogs.

“If you’re staying on the Strip, it may be worth walking or leaving early from that perspective. The vlogs will be back, I’m excited. They’ll have a different look because it’s in a different venue. It’s a grind and that’s what people see. I don’t edit the footage or take out stuff that makes me look bad. I leave it in there. When I’m pissed off and acting like a child, I leave that stuff in there because it’s how I’m feeling at that actual moment.”

Negreanu is used to the process by now. If he takes a bad beat, he’ll head to his RV, take a nap, and then he’s right back into the action. His wife, Amanda Negreanu, has mentioned this toughness that defines his poker persona.

“This is the sort of resilience that my wife talks about — it’s important to me to show all aspects of it. I’ll watch it and think ‘I look like such an idiot here!’”

Negreanu (above) in one of his hugely successful WSOP video blogs. 

  1. Food & Drink

When it comes to the World Series, many players struggle with what to eat. Negreanu is renowned for a clean-living lifestyle that has seen the poker legend get shredded and stay healthy at the table. Despite this, he has a different attitude than his usual good eating habits at the WSOP.

“Before the WSOP for six weeks or so, I train really hard, get myself into shape and eat really clean,” he says. “I know that during the WSOP, the way that the hours are and my sleep schedule is that for my own sanity I don’t want to follow a structured schedule.”

Kid Poker freely admits that at the end of a long day at the felt, the last thing he’s thinking about is healthy eating.

“At 2 am, I don’t crave a broccoli carrot seaweed salad,” he laughs. “I want chocolate-covered popcorn nacho peanut butter and jelly deep-fried sandwiches! What I like to try and do is have at least one or two healthy meals, but because I need the energy because I’m playing such long hours, I’ll fill my RV with all kinds of snacks. I don’t pressure myself with restriction.”

Before the big kick-off, Negreanu will eat clean and train in an extremely regimented fashion. It’s all about accepting that when the World Series is over, he won’t be in the shape of his life. “I’ve learned through trial and error that that works better for me than trying to keep to a regimen. You’re dealing with a lot of stress. If you look at Phil Hellmuth, he’s a candy and chocolate guy at 1 am, he’s eating all the ****ing time. If I spend six weeks letting myself go, I have the willpower and drive to get back in shape when it’s all over.”

Bally's Vegas

Bally’s is the new location for the World Series of Poker in May after 17 years at the Rio came to an end in 2021.

  1. Stamina & Fitness

While Negreanu is known for working hard on his body in the WSOP ‘off season’, it may come as a surprise how he structures his workouts.

“I essentially do no cardio at all,” explains Negreanu. “If you’re actually trying to lose weight, cardio’s not the way. It’s good for heart health. My cardio’s good because of my diet. If I’m targeting losing weight, and I usually go for 1-1.5lbs per week, then I’ll weight train. Then I walk on the treadmill for between an hour and an hour and a half while watching TV.”

Negreanu tells us that, for him at least, ‘eating is key’. He’ll go to the trouble of putting a six-meal spreadsheet together pre-WSOP, making sure that he consumes around 1,800 calories and burns 2,500 per day.

“You’re going to lose weight doing that, period. I prepare for it and during the World Series, I’ve learned that sleep has to take priority over working out. When I’ve worked out every day, I don’t sleep so much. Rest is number one.”

Above all, Negreanu warns against overworking yourself during such intense playing periods. He cites a recent Will Smith documentary called 20 in 20 where Smith sets out to ‘lose 20 lbs in 20 days’ as an example of getting it wrong.

“His trainer is the biggest idiot in the world!” laughs Negreanu. “Will was killing himself waking up at 4 am for a run, working out for a full hour with weights, running again, working out again. He was burning I don’t know how many calories and at the end of the week he gained a pound in water weight because he was working out so much!  If you don’t like doing cardio and think it’s necessary to lose weight, that’s your first mistake. Just walk!”

  1. Making the Money

When it comes to playing in WSOP events, few players in history can have more experience than Kid Poker. So named because he was always at the poker table and has been for a quarter of a century, Negreanu thinks it’s important for any player who heads out to the World Series to be clear on what their intention is when it comes to measuring success.

Often this relates to making the money, the 10-15% of places at the business end of any tournament that returns a profit. There are different ways to play these stages.

“Are they there to win, are they there to just last as long as possible, min-cash or maximize their EV?” he asks. “If you know what you want to do going in, it’ll affect how you play leading up to the money bubble. If you’re happy being there and think it’ll be a kick to make the money, then you must play very tight and really be careful regardless of your chip stack.”

This situation is, of course, flipped on its head if you’re playing for the famous gold bracelets that are handed out to WSOP event winners. Negreanu has half a dozen of them.

“If you’re looking to win the tournament, then you give no ****s and you take advantage of everybody else playing tight — start pushing them around. If you’re looking to maximize EV, then you approach each bubble based off your chip stack. If you have a big stack, then it allows you the freedom to take advantage of those who are playing more conservatively. If you don’t then you say ‘OK, I’ll have to be smart and find spots here or there and reign it in a bit. Get clear on what your goal is.”

Negreanu himself will be shooting for WSOP bracelet #7 and possibly the Player of the Year title, which he came so close to in 2021. As a consequence, Kid Poker has a specific way of playing on the money bubble.

“I push the envelope more in those spots,” he says. “I don’t care too much about min-cashes; they don’t serve me that well. I’m not the type of guy who folds two kings on the bubble.”

Negreanu at the table

Daniel Negreanu is one of the most-feared but popular players at any poker table.

  1. Dealing with Final Tables

Negreanu has reached more final tables than virtually anyone and knows all about the pressure of playing under the lights. He’s never felt the nerves that so many do, relishing the atmosphere at the final table. For many first-timers, however, this isn’t the case, including ClubGG qualifiers back in 2021 who qualified for the WSOP Main Event for as little as $49. Negreanu, who enjoyed a ‘Meet n Greet’ with the players last November, has some key advice when it comes to playing under the lights.

“The best thing I can say if you’re nervous in the beginning is that you can’t win it in that first hour, but you can lose it,” he says. “If you feel jitters or even discomfort, take the safe approach, get comfortable. After a couple of hours, you’ll realize it’s just a poker game like any other.”

Most importantly, Negreanu says that players who are nervous or over-excited about playing in their first World Series shouldn’t play outside their comfort zone.

“It’s OK if you’re playing nine-handed to play tight, pay attention and relax. Don’t feel the pressure to ‘get in there and battle’ early on if that’s not you.”

That most certainly is Daniel Negreanu. At this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Kid Poker is once again in it to win it. Follow his advice, and maybe you’ll see him at the felt.

Dave Consolazio

Dave Consolazio has been passionate about writing and sports journalism since his high school years. He has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from USC where he worked with the school's radio and television stations. His work has been featured in SportsbookReview, Sports Illustrated and SB Nation. Dave's experience ranges across multiple fields in the gambling industry. You can find his sports, casino, and poker articles in GambleOnline.co.

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