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Phil Ivey

There can be no greater testament of a player’s skills at his or her chosen game than being compared to a legend of another sport. When Phil Ivey is called the Tiger Woods’ of poker, you better believe that he is the one of the best, and perhaps THE best.

Beating Boredom with Poker

What do you do to beat the boredom and mundane everyday work? Well, if you are Phil Ivey, you play poker. That’s what the future World Series of Poker (WSOP) champion did with his co-workers while working a telemarketing job in New Jersey. Little did Phil know that what started as a pleasant hobby would soon become his calling card, quite literally.

The more time he spent playing poker and honing his skills with his work mates, the better he became. The regular play in the stress-free environment of casual poker enabled Phil to gain confidence and simply improve his natural ability.

A Grade Above

It was only when one co-worker after another fell to the wily skills of Phil, did they realise that this guy belonged in the professional leagues. One thing that they didn’t know was that he had already begun doing the rounds of the professional gaming centres from the time he was a teenager. In fact, he got one of his nicknames, ‘No Home Jerome’, from an ID tag he had used to play in Atlantic City.

The old millennium was coming to an end, and a new one, the 2000s, would script the unstoppable rise of a poker player that would wow the critics, fellow players, and the general public as well. This was no mean feat.

A Magnificent Run

The streak of wins began in 2002 and firmly cemented Phil Ivey as a true poker great without question. It was in that year that he became only one of four players in the history of the game to win three bracelets at the WSOP. This led to another nickname for the great gambler that has since stuck, ‘The Phenom’. With the magical year that he had, Phil Ivey burst onto the world scene, making everyone sit up and take notice.

He has now added seven more bracelets to his tally, making a grand collection of ten. To add another feather in his cap, Phil is the youngest ever poker player to have reached the benchmark of ten bracelets at the age of 38. What has only served to increase the legend of the man is the fact that he has appeared in nine World Poker Tour finals, and won one of them.

Simply the Best

Many people have talent, but few have the perseverance to transform that talent into genius; something that Phil Ivey has done. The signs were always there. His watershed moment in 2002 did not happen by accident. People did get a teaser of the limitless talent of the player in 2000 when he won one of his first bracelets at the Port Limit Omaha. It was, however, his defeat of the iconic poker player, Amarillo Slim that had everyone uttering Phil’s name in hushed tones. He was the first player to have beaten the icon.

Over the years, Phil has done complete justice to his enormous talent by consistently being in the top rankings at the major tournaments.

Now, when you have nicknames like ‘The Phenom’, and the ‘Tiger Woods of Poker’, it only follows that you are considered as one of the world’s best. This is exactly what the poker world considers about the genius talent of Phil Ivey – that he is the best all-round player.

Daniel Negreanu

As far as immigrant stories go, it does not get more “fairy-tale” than this. And as far as success stories go, it does not get better than this. Daniel Negreanu, one of the world’s most famous poker players, had a truly humble beginning, but the will to achieve something in life drove him on to multiple World Series of Poker (WSOP) titles.

A Journey Across Continents

The story begins seven years before Daniel was born when his parents decided to leave the struggling economy of Romania for the promised new land of America. They eventually ended up in Toronto, Canada. Constantin Negreanu began work as an electrician. He also worked a second job selling confectionaries. The young couple only dreamt of one thing: providing a better, secure future for their children.

In 1974, they were blessed with their first child, a bouncing baby boy, whom they named Daniel. Little did they know that they were holding a child in their hands who would make his mark on the world. This child was not destined to be someone who would fall in line or follow the rules. He was someone meant to be a rebel.

Early Streaks of Rebellion

As a young boy, Daniel was always up to some mischief or another. His parents wanted their eldest son to have the freedom to be naughty and be himself. However, his Principal at Pineway Public Middle School didn’t agree with that style of parenting. Annie Negreanu was summoned to the school one day. The Principal did not mince words while complaining about her boy about his poor behaviour and even threatened to expel Daniel from school. What the Principal obviously did not know was that this boy was a poker champion and a legend in the making.

Enter Poker

From the age of four, the only thing Daniel wanted was to be rich. This is something he admitted to in an interview he gave in 2009. His rebellious nature and inquisitive personality led to him dropping out of high school because of poor grades and to pursue his dream of becoming a professional poker player. The thing was that he didn’t want to be just another card player; he wanted to be the best.

At age 16, the self-taught Daniel began doing the rounds of the local charity casinos and any other avenues that offered him a chance to try his skills and to learn new skills as well. For close to six years, he practised and practised, fine-tuning those skills, readying himself for the big stage. Then he decided it was time to hit Las Vegas.

Trial by Fire

The early years in Las Vegas perhaps taught raw, impressionable Daniel not only important poker skills, but life skills as well. He lost all his money playing the casinos and returned home. This only served to strengthen his will and belief that he could make it big.

His second poker run, which began in 1997, would stamp his name among the best players the world has had the pleasure of witnessing.

Champion of the World

His watershed moment happened in 2004. All the years of struggle and hard work bore fruition as Daniel went on to sweep every tournament that the world of poker had to offer. He was awarded the Card Player of the Year, the WSOP Player of the Year, and the World Poker Tour (WPT) Player of the Year.

In 2013, he won the WSOP Player of the Year again, becoming the only poker player in history to win it twice.

For a boy, who came close to being expelled from school, Daniel Negreanu has done pretty well for himself. His name appears in the Poker Hall of Fame at Las Vegas.

J.K. Rowling

Joanne Rowling, better known as J.K. Rowling, is the author of the hugely successful Harry Potter series. Rowling was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1965 and was working as a researcher and secretary for Amnesty International when Harry Potter and his Universe were born in her head. As the story goes, the idea came to her as she was sitting on a delayed train somewhere between Manchester and London in 1990.

However great the idea, it took years for Rowling to properly cultivate it, and be able to start pitching it to publishing houses. The time in between was littered with bad luck and tragic circumstances. First her mother died, leading Rowling to add a lot more details surrounding Harry’s loss in the first book. She then decided to move to Portugal to teach English. This is where she met her future husband and father of her daughter. The couple married in October 1992, and their daughter was born in July 1993. The marriage was rocky, and there are many who speculate whether Rowling was a victim of domestic abuse in this period. In December 1993 she decided to move to Scotland, taking her young daughter and three chapters of Harry Potter with her.

Not long after Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression and was struggling with thoughts of suicide. Her own experience with depression inspired her to create the soul-sucking Dementors. She was forced to sign up for benefits to be able to feed herself and her daughter, and was living at a level of poverty that is almost unthinkable when you consider where she is today.

By 1995, Rowling had finished the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but was rejected by 12 different publishing houses before finally being accepted by Bloomsbury a year later. You can be absolutely sure there are some people at those 12 publishing houses still pulling their hair out over that decision to this day. The book was published in 1997, and went on to win several awards. Rowling had been told to hold on to a day job because writing children’s books would never be very profitable for her, but they were in for a huge surprise, in terms of the actual success of Harry Potter.

The subsequent books went on to win even more awards and the success finally became palpable, especially with the books’ adaptation for the big screen.

Rowling was named by Forbes, in 2004, as the first person ever to become a US dollar billionaire from writing books. She was also named the 2nd richest female entertainer and 1,062 richest person on the planet. Rowling herself, disagreed with the calculations, calling them faulty and denying being an actual billionaire. Even so, that is a long way to come from living on welfare and not knowing how you are going to feed your child. She is now considered one of the wealthiest people in Britain, as well as one of the country’s most powerful women.

Rowling is known for the great passion she shows for the universe she created. She keeps an open dialogue with fans, and is constantly releasing new snippets of background information, explanations of how the universe works and other interesting titbits that the fans go crazy for. She has also taken a very real interest in the films and the actors who starred in them. She is still in contact with many of her characters’ actors and supports them fervently in their new endeavors, both outside and inside the world of cinema.