Why Hiring Daniel Negreanu was GGPoker's Smartest Move to Date
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In 2019, GGPoker hired Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu as the face of its brand, and the poker site has done nothing but consistently grow ever since. That isn't a coincidence.
The six-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner became a free-agent after he left PokerStars in May 2019. He'd spent 12 years representing the poker site that had dominated the industry for nearly two decades.
The Canadian-American wore no patch to the WSOP that summer and it was an odd sight for those who attributed the poker legend with the PokerStars logo for so many years. Five months later, he was patched up again, this time representing a poker site that had huge aspirations of doing the unthinkable — competing against the Goliath of online poker (PokerStars).
The Power of Name Recognition
Fast forward a couple of years later and the improbable has become a reality, thanks in no small part to a number of brilliant hires, none more so than Negreanu.
Why was the decision to snag "DNegs" so valuable to GGPoker? We'll let Negreanu explain it himself.
"I think that helped (GGPoker) build relationships with existing partners I have good relationships with, like the WSOP for example, and I’ve also got a lot of experience in marketing the game via social media and my YouTube channel," Negreanu told PokerNews. "I have a decent following on various platforms so typically when I endorse or promote something it moves the needle quite a bit."
GGPoker's Head of PR Paul Burke also chimed in on the relationship between "KidPoker" and the fast-growing site.
"Since partnering with Daniel, we've grown faster than ever."
Since partnering with Daniel, we've grown faster than ever. He's the perfect ambassador for GGPoker."
An Active Ambassador
Negreanu's YouTube channel has over 600,000 subscribers, far and away the largest audience on any social media account within the poker community. His daily vlogs during the WSOP each year often crack 100,000 views.
On Twitter, he has over 500,000 followers, and unlike certain popular poker pros with a large social media audience (i.e. Phil Ivey), he engages with those who choose to read his tweets, and he's a frequent tweeter.
Negreanu is arguably the most popular poker player of all time. He's been as much an active ambassador for the game and for PokerStars, and now GGPoker, as he's been a successful poker player. Not only does he slap on the GGPoker patch any time he's around a camera, but he also promotes the poker site in many other ways (his WSOP vlogs, streaming GGPoker's WSOP online bracelet events, via tweets, etc.).
The high stakes action @GGPoker right now is bonkers. Straddles and restraddles up to $32k and all kinds of million… https://t.co/q7qEKFTYKa— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker)
Most sponsored pros are just that — sponsored pros. They'll wear a patch during live events just like they're paid to do, and maybe show up once in a while for a promotional gig, but few others outside of perhaps Chris Moneymaker (previously a PokerStars pro) actively promote the poker site they represent to Negreanu's level while maintaining a massive following.
More than Just Negreanu
Negreanu isn't the only reason GGPoker has become the first true competitor for PokerStars in the online poker industry. Even he'll tell you that.
"I think firstly the reason GG grew was the product itself," Negreanu said. "The software is the best poker software ever created. It’s a genuinely fun experience which I think was lacking to a certain degree before GG."
"I think firstly the reason GG grew was the product itself."
Ever since Negreanu joined the team, GGPoker has brought on some other high-profile names such as Jason Koon, one of the greatest poker players of all time. Other members of Team GGPoker include French poker and gaming legend Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and social media playboy Dan Bilzerian.
Another contributing factor for the poker site's growth is the presence of WSOP online bracelet events over the past two years. During the pandemic, GGPoker and WSOP.com hosted more than 100 bracelet events, which has helped the site bring in new players, especially those who are passionate about winning WSOP bracelets.
Last year, the WSOP hosted a second online bracelet series on GGPoker prior to the start of the live version in Las Vegas. From August 1, 2021 until September 12, 33 gold bracelets were awarded on the international poker site.
During the 2020 WSOP online series, Stoyan Madanzhiev won the WSOP Online Main Event for $3.9 million in what became the largest prize pool in internet poker history ($27,559,500).
That event, and the series was the culmination of years of marketing efforts to build GGPoker into an online poker juggernaut. In December 2021, Negreanu's new poker site had matched the old employer in cash game traffic. One year earlier, PokerStars' seven-day concurrent cash game traffic average was approximately 39% higher than GGPoker.
GGPoker's Tom Brady?
Negreanu is GGPoker's quarterback. He isn't the only important player on the team, but without him, GG would resemble the pre-Tom Brady New England Patriots, a team with championship talent lacking a winner at quarterback to get them to the top of the mountain. No offense to Drew Bledsoe, who was a solid NFL quarterback for many years, but the organization was going nowhere with him under center.
Brady took over in 2001 for an injured Bledsoe and the Patriots immediately built the greatest dynasty in NFL history. Negreanu became the face of GGPoker in 2019 and the site instantly grew. Two years and dozens of WSOP online bracelet events later and GG is now a legit competitor for PokerStars, not coincidentally the poker site that was on top the entire time Negreanu was the face of the brand.
Now, if only Negreanu could get back to shipping WSOP bracelets like Brady wins Super Bowl rings who knows what could happen. Since Negreanu's last WSOP title in 2013, the recently retired NFL superstar has won four NFL championships. Perhaps 2022 will be the year one of poker's all-time greats gets it done.