Breaking Down the Action:
  • Who is Brandon Cantu?
  • How the Beef Began
  • Could They Go To War?
  • Where Do Apex Predators Go from Here?

6 Minute Read

Brandon Cantu has taken aim at Daniel Negreanu, but is it genuine or bluster?

Daniel Negreanu clearly doesn’t like the quiet life. If anyone thought that once the Canadian poker legend left PokerStars, he’d be heading for married life and semi-retirement, they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, since getting hitched, ‘DNegs’ has switched to GGPoker, become embroiled in a bitter heads-up feud with Doug Polk (losing $1.2m), then clashed with Phil Hellmuth in not one but two heads-up High Stakes Duels.

The last thing Kid Poker probably expected was Brandon Cantu calling him out for his net worth, but that’s where we are, poker fans.

Who is Brandon Cantu?

A double WSOP bracelet winner, it’s no secret that Brandon Cantu is a polarising character in poker too. Cantu has had his previous brushes with controversy at the World Series, where back in 2012 he complained of being “robbed” of his third WSOP bracelet.

Back then, his gripe was that the Rio had to close at 51m and he couldn’t play out the heads-up battle with Jon Aguiar that he then went on to lose after they’d each had a day’s rest so that the WSOP Main Event Day 1b could be played by both players. Cantu famously called his own performance one of the best “in the history of the World Series”.

Cantu has never won a bracelet in the nine years since, and has been accused of scamming people in the poker world in the past, but who has also fronted up to a tasering, as you can see here:

How the Beef Began

Cantu’s back-story with Negreanu was something that really has stayed in the background for many years until this week. Cantu is a close personal friend of Phil Hellmuth, so with the fact that Hellmuth beat Negreanu not just in the opening High Stakes Duel they competed in but the second match too, you could easily pitch Cantu as Kid Poker’s natural enemy.

The truth is, however, that Negreanu and Hellmuth are too good not to show each other a lot of professional respect. To that end, Hellmuth has demonstrated that more than anyone, crediting Negreanu’s skill level in two exclusive interviews with us in recent weeks as well as before, after and during each High Stakes Duel match. Does Cantu respect Negreanu to the same degree?

We’d have to err or the side of no, no he doesn’t.

Cantu’s attack on Negreanu may look like it comes out of the blue, but we’d be very surprised if some money-lending went down early in this relationship, after all, Negreanu is well-known in the industry for having been a benefactor to many up and coming talents, and he has had his fingers burned before.

It’s fair to assume that he could back up the following reply with more details than he wanted to share on Twitter: “I’d play you too but feel it’s only right you pay back all the money you scammed people out of and robbed. Dead beat thief is what you are.”

Setting aside the poetic turn of phrase that Kid Poker achieves with the slur ‘Dead beat thief’, [Ed – note to self, pen award-winning movie entitled Dead Beat Thief], does Negreanu have a point or is Cantu legitimately calling out Negreanu?

Could They Go To War?

Negreanu states both privately and publicly that Cantu should either “put up or shut up”, but what if Cantu did exactly that? What could he put up and would he be worthwhile watching? While PokerGO subscribers and Sour Patch Candy fans alike have gorged on every second of action in the Hellmuth vs. Negreanu duel, surely the same audience wouldn’t all tune in for Cantu vs. Negreanu unless they’d seen Cantu before. In recent years, Cantu has been paying back some players that he owed money too.

Negreanu sees this as thievery, Cantu as overreaching, stating that he “borrowed above my means as high stakes poker player eight years ago. Guilty as charged.”

The lines are blurred in poker, too much and by too many people for them ever to be anything other than gray, but Cantu promising to pull up every buried penny-pot in a bid to rob Negreanu of his “net worth” is at the very least, utterly hilarious.ne For a start, no player worthy of their brain matter would ever put 25 years of hard-earned poker profit on the line in the suggested format from Cantu, a seven-game winner-take-all series where variance could determine either man the winner with a favorable run of the cards when the stacks get shallow.

Where Do Apex Predators Go from Here?

While the heads-up match seems unlikely, there’s a chance the action goes down in private when the World Series rolls into town, albeit not exactly ‘for rolls’, as Cantu suggests it should. In the midst of all the posturing, Cantu’s suggestion that if Hellmuth was +150 (as he was with some online bookmakers), then Cantu should be +230 — this is why the American believes his $12m of apparent funds should stack up against Negreanu’s net worth.

Firstly, we highly doubt that Negreanu’s net worth is as low as say, $25m-$30m. Owning a percentage of the PokerStars profits for their most profitable period in history would likely have seen Negreanu invest a lot of his money early and securely, meaning he’s unlikely to be doing anything other than playing with profit and compound interest from here on out.

Add to that fact the $1.2m loss to Doug Polk in their heads-up challenge and that Negreanu both a) could easily afford to lose and b) may well have been prepared to lose more if it went worse against a much more experienced online heads-up player, and his worth is likely to be far higher than Cantu could ever stuff into his wallet.

Cantu’s closing argument to his greatness appears to be that he’s met Elon Musk, and we’re loving the craziness of it to be fair.

Will Negreanu take on Cantu? We would err on the side of caution if you’re thinking of bulk-buying popcorn just to recreate that Michael Jackson meme.

via GIPHY

In poker, however, you can never rule anything out.

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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