Daniel Negreanu The Archie Bunker of Poker

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
Daniel Negreanu

The racist remarks made by professional poker player Daniel "Kid Poker" Negreanu on his blog earlier this month are nothing new, PokerHelper.com has learned.

(Negreanu questioned why there is a Black Entertainment Network on television but no White Entertainment Network, and also belittled the term ‘African-American.')

An investigation by PokerHelper.com reveals that Negreanu, one of the top poker pros in the world, has not only been making insensitive public comments for years about blacks, but about Asians, women and the handicapped too.

Among other things, Negreanu has appeared in blackface in an Internet video, bragged that his dog is racist, used a mock Asian accent on television, said that Asians aren't respected, called someone a "Gook," referred to women in Tweets as "bitches" and "biatches" and used phrases that mock the mentally ill.

The blackface incident occurred in 2007 and was heavily criticized by people throughout the poker world.

Negreanu donned blackface makeup and spoke in a mock Caribbean accent for a video that was posted on website Raw Vegas (www.rawvegas.tv).

Later, in his blog at website Full Contact Poker (www.fullcontactpoker.com), Negreanu tried to deflect the criticism, writing: "So if you haven't seen the latest video blog, I do a little skit where I impersonate a Jamaican character named Dexter. I threw on a dreadlock hair wig, wore my best Bob Marley outfit and had my wife do my makeup so that I'd look Jamaican. She mixed brown face paint with black face paint. Jamaicans often have much darker complexions and she was trying to be authentic. She was doing it in the light and it looked good, but when finished, it was darker than I expected. I wanted it to look more like the pictures from Halloween when I did the same thing in 2003.

"So anyway, I've been reading on the forums that some people were offended, claming that it looked too much like blackface...I'm a little surprised that some people made the connection to blackface. Aside from actually using makeup, there was nothing blackface about the skit...What I find slightly strange is that it seems as though the people who had the biggest problem with it are white...

"In high school, two of my best friends, Tony and Mikey, were Jamaican. We used to hang out at their place all the time. In fact, most of my friends in grade school were black. From grade one up until grade six, I had a total of two white friends. Vaughan, Ron, Mark, Junior, Apache, Carl, and Willie all had either Jamaican or Antiguan backgrounds. My brother's best friends were also of Jamaican decent. Not that any of this matters, but I wanted to paint a picture for anyone who felt like my intentions where malicious...I've always believed that humor is the best way to lighten things up, especially with potentially sensitive issues. I thought the skit was funny and non-offensive. It was all just a joke..."

In another Full Contact Poker blog post, in 2005, Negreanu, who is white and Canadian, wrote: "Ok, it's official, my dog is a full-blown racist. I'm not kidding...My dog doesn't like black people. Ok, I said it, and I know it might not be politically correct or whatnot, but my little buddy is a full-blown, racist dog.

"When I arrived at the Las Vegas airport recently, Mushu and I were waiting for our bags, while a couple of WHITE girls wanted to pet him. That went off without a hitch, his tail was wagging, he was licking their hands, all smiles. Then a young black girl tried to pet Mushu. He looked like Cujo, the rabies-diseased dog from the movies!

"His eyes bulged out of his head and it was clear that he didn't take kindly to the young black girl. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time my son has shown a propensity for racism. As a worried father, dealing with a son that speaks no English, I'm at a loss. My dog is an ignorant, General Lee-lovin' redneck!...Mushu, my little buddy, has a tendency to bark at black people."

In 2003, Negreanu participated in a poker match that was nationally televised in the USA.

During the match, Negreanu made fun of Asian poker players by speaking in broken English in a sing songy, mock Asian accent.

The incident provoked outrage.

Negreanu later defended his actions on the posting forum at website Two Plus Two (www.twoplustwo.com), writing: "Ming is my friend. Scotty is my friend. Chau is my friend. I always needle them, they needle me back in other ways. I'm making fun of their accent, because it's kinda funny...Whose business is it to say that it's offensive..."

In an article he penned for Card Player magazine (www.cardplayer.com) in 2005 about Asian poker players, Negreanu wrote: "Overall, the Asian man isn't as respected in our society as he should be...He is often ridiculed, but rarely taken seriously...It's hard for us to relate to the Asian poker player. Many of the successful Asian players on the tournament circuit speak broken English and that doesn't necessarily make for good TV."

In the year 2009, sending out short messages called Tweets via the website Twitter is the latest way to communicate-or in Negreanu's case, send out hate.

Tweeting at www.twitter.com/realkidpoker, Negreanu so far this year has managed to offend the Japanese, Asians as a group, women and the mentally ill.

In a Twitter message sent out on June 15, Negreanu called someone a "wild Asian."

In a Twitter message sent out on July 29, Negreanu called someone a "Jap."

In another Tweet on that date, Negreanu used the phrase "stupid Gook."

In a Twitter message sent out on June 5, Negreanu wrote, "I'm now mildly obsessed with bringing back the c-word for use when it's appropriate."

In Tweets sent out on July 14 and July 24, Negreanu refered to women as "bitches."

In an August 3 Tweet, he called a woman a "bitch."

In a June 29 Tweet, he called women "biatches," a slang form of the word.

Negreanu also delights in using pejorative terms for the mentally ill as insults.

In a June 13 Twitter message he called someone an "absolute nut case," while in a June 30 Tweet he called a woman a "whack job."

These are just a few examples of Negreanu's insensitivity-there are a lot more.

Which begs the question-what does it matter?

After all, high school dropout Negreanu (what a shock) is just a poker player.

But he's a highly visible poker player, appearing frequently on television and in other media.

And whether he likes it or not, or whether the poker world likes it or not, he represents poker, he's one of the faces of poker, one of its ambassadors.

So he shouldn't be making racist or misogynistic remarks, or any remarks for that matter that could be construed as insensitive.

He's a poker player, and it reflects poorly on the game.

It's as simple as that.

Lots of poker players blog and Tweet and write magazine articles and appear on TV.

But you don't see classy guys like Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson, Howard "The Professor" Lederer or Chris "Jesus" Ferguson making racist remarks or calling women "bitches."

Even Phil "Poker Brat" Hellmuth Jr., who's made a career out of being obnoxious, doesn't slur people.

Negreanu needs to realize that Archie Bunker-type racial and sexual stereotypes (he was a 1970s sitcom bigot), even in the name of so-called humor, went out in the '70s.

"Kid Poker"?

Negreanu's nickname should be "Kid Bunker."

Thomas Somach, www.pokerhelper.com