Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu has always been an outspoken member of the poker community and tends to be open and honest about how things are going at any given time in his career. Case in point: as 2017 came to a close, he posted his annual live tournament results on his blog, revealing that he had a losing year.
Not beating around the bush Negreanu displayed the numbers right off the bat. $2,874,164 in buy-ins and $2,792,104 in payouts for a net profit of -$86,140.
Now, for the vast majority of the world’s population, losing over $80,000 in a year would be devastating, and while Negreanu certainly wasn’t happy with the number, he saw it as basically breaking even. He calculated his average buy-in at $40,481, so ending up down about two buy-ins – to him – was almost nothing.
I would LOVE to be able to look at an $86,140 loss as breakeven, to shrug it off like it was pocket change, so part of me read that in Negreanu’s blog and was appalled. But really, I get it. I haven’t played online poker in a few years, but when I did, my average tournament buy-in was probably $5. So if I played on a regular basis through the calendar year and finished down $10, that would certainly be quite close to breakeven. So I get it.
One reason Daniel Negreanu elected to share this information with the public was set out in the first paragraph of his post:
I mention this because I think my 2017 was a good illustration of the illusion that players cashing for $2 million in a single year is a great accomplishment. In the old days, before super high rollers, you could all but guarantee that cashing for $2 million would mean the player had a winning year. Well, the truth is, if a player plays the full high roller schedule and cashes for $2 million, they are all but certain to have had a losing year, and that’s before expenses.
He estimates that with the $1 million Big One for One Drop returning to the World Series of Poker this year, combined with the Super High Roller Bowl and other high roller events, some poker players could easily spend $5 million on buy-ins. He added that though most who spend millions on buy-ins have backers for some of it, he funds himself completely. The one exception will be for the Big One for One Drop, where he’ll probably sell about half of his action, “as it just seems like a bit of a crazy amount of money to risk in one tournament.”
Negreanu also posted his live tournament results for the past five years, showing that he also lost money – $1,246,693 – in 2016. Overall, though, from 2013-2018, he is up $8,733,074 in live tourneys. The big year was 2014, where he profited $7.1 million. All or most of that (depending on how much he had of himself) came from the Big One, where he placed second for about $8.3 million.