For as much as Daniel Negreanu has won in his poker career, it’s been a long time since he landed himself in first place in a live poker tournament. On Tuesday, Negreanu picked up the victory in Event #7: $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em at the 2021 PokerGO Cup, scoring his first victory in an open event since 2013 and earning $700,000 in prize money.

“If I look at my results since 2013, I’ve cashed for $20 to $30 million, so I’ve still been able to post wins in terms of finances, but the elusive top prize has been missing,” Negreanu said when talking about the drought of first-place results. “I’ve been a bridesmaid so many times. Just the demons and the ghosts in your brain, like when I’m heads up with and that three hit the turn, it was just every reminder, like Buckner back in Shea Stadium. Every possible bad thing I’m thinking in my head. I can’t help it. I’m human. So just to get that win out of the way it feels like I don’t have to think about that anymore.”

Negreanu topped a field of 35 entries and jumped into second place on the PokerGO Cup’s overall series leaderboard. Negreanu defeated David Coleman in the end, with Coleman improving his series standing to second place on the leaderboard. It remains Ali Imsirovic atop the standings, but it’s a tight race heading into the $100,000 finale.

When asked how he feels about the current state of his game and how he feels his game has evolved over the years, Negreanu said he felt good where his game is at and was quick to answer that he’s grown to have a positive relationship with bluffing.

“I think my game is better than it’s ever been,” Negreanu said. “It’s simply a factor of really understanding bluffing more and understanding that I need to do it more. For most of my career in the 2000s, I didn’t need to bluff much because people called too often. I got to play a small-ball approach that didn’t require me taking any risks. Now, if you do that against really great players, you’re not going to get value because they’re just going to keep folding. The value has to come from a little bit more aggression. So I upped my aggression in a lot of spots, I do a lot more bluffing, and earn some pots.

“In the old days, I used to think, ‘Well, these guys are all bad, they’re going to pay me off,’ so what’s the point in bluffing? But to beat these guys, you have to earn it. You have to have some cojones to be like, ‘Alright, I’m all in. If you call, I lose,’ and feel OK with that. My relationship with bluffing has changed. It used to feel like a punch in the gut when I lost those chips. Like I screwed up, but now it’s just like, ‘No, it was a good bluff. He called, but so what?’ I’ve gotten to that place now with bluffing.”

When it comes to competing inside the PokerGO Studio, the privilege is one not lost on Negreanu, who says that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.

“I feel like I’ve competed well all week,” Negreanu said. “I had a bubble, I had two min-cashes, and then I had this one. I feel like I’ve been in there. I have the utmost respect for my opponents and how good they are. I do believe it’s the best learning ground, too – watching what the top players do, the Ali Imsirovic’s, the Jake Schindler’s, and Alex Foxen – there are so many great players here. I have the luxury of being able to afford to play with them and feel like I’m doing pretty well against them, but it’s the best test of where you’re at. If you really, really, want to say that you’re the best tournament player in the world or you’re among them, then you need to compete against them and they’re here in droves. This is the spot. Here at the PokerGO Studio.”

To relive all of the action from Negreanu’s PokerGO Cup victory, check out the replay of the event on PokerGO.com.

Although he entered the final day of play with the chip lead, Ali Imsirovic was the first player to bust. He went out in fifth place and took home $122,500 in prize money. With the blinds at 20,000-40,000 with a 40,000 big blind ante, Imsirovic raised to 220,000 with pocket tens from under the gun. Negreanu was next in the cutoff seat and looked down to see pocket aces. He reraised all in for 665,000. Play folded back to Imsirovic and he called all in for 520,000 total. The board ran out to keep Negreanu’s aces in front and Imsirovic was sent to the rail.

Next to go was Sergi Reixach. He picked up two kings on the button and raised almost all in, putting in 235,000 in chips from his stack of 275,000. In the big blind, Daniel Negreanu called with pocket eights. A seven-high flop prompted Negreanu to bet enough to put Reixach all in. Reixach called. The turn was an eight to shoot Negreanu into the lead. The river was a five and Reixach was off to collect his $192,500 payday.

Alex Foxen busted shortly thereafter in third place. He also went out at the hands of Negreanu. Negreanu and Foxen got all the money in preflop in blind-versus-blind action. Negreanu had queen-seven of clubs and Foxen had ace-jack. Negreanu flopped a flush draw but it would be a seven on the river that gave him the knockout and sent him into heads-up play with Coleman. Foxen earned $280,000 in prize money.

Coleman entered heads-up play with the lead, having 2.95 million in chips to Negreanu’s 2.3 million. The two battled for quite some time, and it was Negreanu who held the lead for most of the match despite starting off behind. It looked as though Negreanu was going to finish off Coleman when his ace-jack flopped a pair of jacks against Coleman’s pocket threes, but a three on the turn allowed Coleman to double up.

Negreanu fought to extend another lead from there and the two eventually got the money in the middle for another flip. Coleman had pocket fives against Negreanu’s king-ten. The flop and turn missed Negreanu, but he did have two overs and a flush draw going to the river. The river was a ten to and that’s exactly what Negreanu needed to secure the win. Coleman walked away with $455,000 in prize money for what was his fourth final table of the series.

The final table payouts are as follows.

2021 PokerGO Cup Event #7: $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em
Place Name Country Payout PokerGO Tour Points
1 Daniel Negreanu Canada $700,000 420
2 David Coleman USA $455,000 273
3 Alex Foxen USA $280,000 168
4 Sergi Reixach Spain $192,500 116
5 Ali Imsirovic Bosnia and Herzegovina $122,500 74

With his fifth-place finish in this event, Imsirovic improved to 497 points on the PokerGO Cup leaderboard. That allowed him to stay in first place, but the race is tight heading into the final event of the series. Coleman is just 27 points behind with 470 points, and then Negreanu is third with 468 points. Also above 400 points is Alex Foxen, who sits on 421 points after his third-place finish behind Negreanu and Coleman in Event #7.

2021 PokerGO Cup Top 10
Rank Name Country Earnings Points
1 Ali Imsirovic Bosnia and Herzegovina $545,500 497
2 David Coleman USA $710,000 470
3 Daniel Negreanu Canada $766,200 468
4 Alex Foxen USA $533,200 421
5 Jason Koon USA $446,000 316
6 Dylan Linde USA $255,000 255
7 Sergi Reixach Spain $320,700 244
8 Jake Schindler USA $324,000 194
9 Daniel Weinand Canada $181,900 182
10 Sam Soverel USA $168,200 168

Imsirovic’s finish also allowed him to boost his lead atop the 2021 PokerGO Tour leaderboard. He now has 2,394 points in that race, with Sean Perry a bit of a ways off in second at 1,553 points. Foxen leaped ahead of Sam Soverel and into seventh place thanks to his third-place finish in Event #7 of the PokerGO Cup.

Updated PokerGO Tour Top 10
Rank Name Country Total Earnings PokerGO Tour Points
1 Ali Imsirovic Bosnia and Herzegovina $3,004,960 2,394
2 Sean Perry USA $2,206,378 1,553
3 Andrew Moreno USA $1,460,105 1,200
4 Clayton Maquire USA $1,443,757 1,200
5 Toby Lewis UK $1,235,204 1,200
6 Sean Winter USA $1,795,790 1,193
7 Alex Foxen USA $1,207,786 1,023
8 Sam Soverel USA $1,336,896 1,020
9 Chris Brewer USA $1,194,850 843
10 David Peters USA $1,068,750 796

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Daniel Negreanu, Alex Foxen, Sergi Reixach, Ali Imsirovic, PokerGO Cup, David Coleman