Of all the many competitors on Day 1a of the $10,400-entry Wynn WPT World Championship, one name stuck out. Not because he’s a six-time World Series of Poker winner, or a GGPoker Global Ambassador. It wasn’t even because he sits in third place of the all-time money list for tournament earnings and is possibly the most well-known face in the game.

It was because he was called…, wait, who on Earth is Daniel Neidgrano?

The Biggest Name in the Game?

There are many players who are followed to major tournament stops by a partner or friends. Fewer travel with an entourage. A couple travel with a circus in tow that isn’t even their own choosing. One such player is the Canadian poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. Or rather, as his official WPT accreditation badge, declared, Daniel Neidgrano.

For many years, players, fans, media and even presenters have sometimes struggled with the name Negreanu (thankfully, they managed Daniel OK). According to recent research that goes up to almost today, the surname Negreanu, of Romanian origin, is common to 1,578 people in Negreanu’s country of co-heritage. In the United States its less common, with a supposed 54 incidences of the surname being used, with 42 such occurrences in Canada.

Broadly speaking, the surname is a rare one, but it is still the 222,674th most popular surname in the world. Maybe not that popular in Las Vegas where a new season of High Stakes Poker was confirmed this week, or common enough to be used as a name in the popular family board game Guess Who, but still.

Even The Hendon Mob got in on the gag, declaring the newly-christened Daniel Neidgrano the third most success tournament poker player in human history.

Who is a Sporting Comparison?

Without leaning too heavily on this reporter’s nationality, the perfect example of a comparative legendary figure in his field who doesn’t get his name misspelt or mixed up with another on a regular basis is the retired English soccer star, Gary Lineker.

According to collected data, only 566 people in the entire world share the former England and Tottenham Hotspur striker’s moniker. It is the 560,645th most popular surname in the world. We can’t remember ever seeing the BBC Sport presenter’s name badge at the FIFA World Cup title ‘Gary Leenacre’.

Neidgrano – ahem, Negreanu – was all ready to go when he arrived at the Wynn in Las Vegas for this incredible $15 million guaranteed suitably resplendent in a Rocky t-shirt. Ready to rock, indeed. To much humor, Negreanu showed the badge around.

We presume that a charity auction will be ‘on the cards’, but as we’ll go into in more detail now, Negreanu didn’t have much time away from the felt to start the ball rolling himself. He was too busy stacking chips.

Negreanu ‘Punches Ticket’ for Day 2 after Strong Day 1a Showing

On what turned out to be a very busy day indeed, Negreanu showed that no matter what you call him, he has the goods to negotiate his way through to Day 2’s in huge MTTs with very little trouble at all. Reaching Day 2 with an above-average stack, the Poker Hall of Fame legend said on Twitter: “Punched my ticket to Day 2 with 252k at [Wynn Las Vegas WPT World Championship]. Felt like I was playing “above the rim” and super confident. Two days off is nice! Back Thursday to resume the battle.”

You can follow live updates from the World Poker Tour on their official tournament page right here.

Others to thrive included a very well-known name at the top of the chipcounts. Only two men have won more money in tournaments than ‘Kid Poker’, and one of them – Justin Bonomo – topped the leaderboard on 1,011,000 chips, an outrageous total given the quality of players across the board. Followed by Joey Couden (935,000) and Steven McKuin (895,000). A little further back is the Welsh Triple Crown (WSOP, WPT and EPT) winner Roberto Romanello with 725,000 chips, with Dominic Brazier (714,000) rounding out the top five.

With others such as Adam Hendrix (658,000), Michael ‘Gags’ Gagliano (550,000), Paulina ‘Poker Bunny’ Leoliger (488,000), Alex Foxen (371,000), Xuan Liu (300,000), Kitty Kuo (293,000), Lynn Gilmartin (277,000), Chance Kornuth (237,000) and Andrew Neeme (160,000) all making the cut.

With Day 1b on Tuesday and Day 1c on Wednesday, Negreanu/Neidgrano won’t have to return to the felt until Thursday… by which point he might have a valid name pass.

Headline picture of Daniel Negreanu from PokerNews, the source of video interviews throughout the WPT World Championship this December. 

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for GambleOnline.co about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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