It seems like Daniel Negreanu has been the face of PokerStars forever. So it’s hard to remember him representing a different online poker site at any point in time. However, going back to 2004, Kid Poker was actually involved in his own poker room called FullContactPoker.
Some players today may recognize this site because it’s where Negreanu writes all of his blog posts from. But back then, it was a full-fledged internet poker room that mainly attracted Americans.
Negreanu helped FullContactPoker quickly experience success by undertaking a massive promotional effort. This included doing up to 50 radio interviews a day across the United States and Canada, plus getting the word out through other channels. His poker site showed such promise that one company even wanted to buy him out for $170 million.
However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) came about at the end of 2006, thus throwing the US-friendly poker market into disarray. This forced Negreanu to quickly find something else to do with FullContactPoker. So he ended up signing a deal with PokerStars and moving his player base there.
While this and the $170 million deal are interesting enough, the selection process used by Negreanu to pick PokerStars is a story in itself. Here’s a look at what he told iGaming.org about why he ended up choosing Stars:
Signing with PokerStars was as simple as this, there were several sites interested in having my services including UltimateBet, Full Tilt Poker and PartyPoker. For me it came down to integrity and which site I trusted the most, had the best software and the best vision for the future. It wasn’t about the highest bidder for me; it was about who’s the biggest, who’s the best, and who’s going to be the biggest in the future.”
I believed in PokerStars from the start, as the company was built by a group of IBM professionals. They weren’t some random poker-playing dudes who wanted to be businessmen. Full Tilt was off the mark; I wasn’t going to sign with them, because I didn’t trust the infrastructure even back then. If I was going to attach my name to something, game security, integrity, and longevity were most important.
Given that Party Poker’s player base has dropped considerably, Full Tilt had to close before being bought by Stars, and UB Poker went completely under never to resurface again, PokerStars definitely proved to be the right choice. Furthermore, it appears as if Negreanu is about as good at reading business deals as he is with poker opponents.