Daniel Negreanu Entrance
Could Kid Poker, a.k.a. Daniel Negreanu , be the next big poker player to make a superstar entrance at the start of a final table?

If the bi-annual reaction to Phil Hellmuth’s WSOP Main Event and WSOP Paradise Main Event entrances are anything to go by, the poker world is divided on players making a spectacle of themselves as they take their seats.

In this age of social media sharing, TikTok trends and bitesize clips designed to appeal to palates with shorter and shorter attention spans, are introductions to the world’s best poker players a pre-requisite?

After Jason Koon’s recent ‘backflip’ entrance on the Triton Poker Tour, the rules might be re-written.

Koon the King of the Backflip

The recent entrance into Triton Poker action by Jason Koon had it all. The West Virginian, who has won 10 Triton titles, more than double that of anyone else, is known for being super-fit. A previous announcement video had him running track, for goodness sake. Koon is a bone fide superstar and he needed no prompting to backflip his way into the action at the poker felt recently.

Let’s break down that action in a super slo-motion commentary replay. Koon warms up with some hand signals that merge trendsetting cool with ‘dad-hands’ at a wedding. Then he’s in focus mode, setting his legs with a slight bend, shoulder-width apart. A quick beat and he’s head-over-heels for the backflip, landing just ahead of the camera-frame. Koon quickly adapts to the slight off-landing, effortlessly styling it into a backwards jog and cheeky grin to camera.

Straightening his hat à la Daniel Craig as James Bond adjusting his tie, Koon then front-jogs to his seat while his leg muscles ping back into shape and the social credits roll. As an entrance, it makes Phil Hellmuth’s samba dancing look leisurely at best. So with the World Series of Poker, could more of the world’s top players ape Koon and Big Phil? And if so, what are their best options for a grand entrance?

Trick or Treat

We’ve scoured the talent pools at the top of the world’s poker rankings. By that, we mean, we checked The Hendon Mob for which poker professionals have been searched more in their history than Jason Koon. We’ve ignored Phil Hellmuth in our suggestions for entrances out of respect for The Poker Brat, purely because we know that ‘big Phil’ is bound to have something up his sleeve even more impressive than last year’s Vegas appearance as the ‘Greatest Showman’.

Our first group of top-tier players are three players we’d like to collectively group as ‘Freak or Unique’ and we mean this is its most positive sense. Their success is freakishly great and their appearances are uniquely apt to three great – but very weird – entrances.

Dan Smith is known as ‘Cowboy’ in the poker world, and it would seem fitting therefore if the American entranced on horseback. The Rio would possibly have had a problem with Smith entering atop an equine friend but on the Las Vegas Strip, the horse could probably get a fake ID and a casino loyalty card if he smiled with enough teeth on show. A couple of replica pistols, a standard cowboy hat and spurs on the back of some western boots and the look would be complete.

The brand-new Americas Cardroom ambassador Tom Dwan is surely going to be attending the World Series of Poker. With a large dollop of controversy never far away from the headline-maker, ‘Durrrr’

It’s been some time since the WSOP Main Event commentator Antonio Esfandiari was an active member of the Magic Circle. That doesn’t mean that The Magician has lost any of his tricks, however. Esfandiari could

The Quiet Men of Poker

While some players are born to perform in the spotlight, others often keep themselves to themselves, preferring to let their poker game alone do the talking. Three players who between them have won well over $100 million in live poker tournaments over the years are Erik Seidel, Fedor Holz and Stephen Chidwick.

Backflips are not going to be the order of the day for the 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel. Such is the respect that the poker industry hold him, in, however, that his trademark loping gait and polite nod to his opponents puts us in mind of a certain cartoon animal – The Pink Panther. Famously brought to life in the Inspector Clouseau films of the 1960s and 1970s, Seidel would be an ideal detective. Put a trenchcoat on the New Yorker, add a magnifying glass to find his chair and then simply derobe the master, as he sits at the felt in his usual clothes. Elementary.

Over the many Phil Hellmuth entrances that have entertained us over the years, none really feature him dressed in full royal regalia. Sure, he’s attended the WSOP Paradise Main Event as the king of the sea, Poseidon, but that’s not the same thing. Fedor Holz might be the perfect candidate to arrive quietly on a throne carried like a sedan chair. Hey, Crown Up Guy can make it work if Phil can’t.

Stephen Chidwick has long been complimented for his remarkable table image, as he sits bolt upright and seems to process information like a super-robot from his seat before dominating his opponents at the felt. At the 5th annual Global Poker Awards, Chidwick was voted as Players’ Choice for Toughest Opponent and its not hard to see why. Taking it right back to T2: Judgement Day, we’d kit out Chidwick in some space-age make-up at T-2000, the exo-skeletal version, not the pumped-up Arnie skin. Go ahead, scoff. That’s what Chidwick-2000 wants… along with your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.

Big Hitters Go Big

Daniel Negreanu is known for his many entertaining ways of keeping poker fans on the edge of their seats. So how could ‘DNegs’ approach a big entrance? Well, the GGPoker Ambassador is used to surprising fans on the big stage. Who can forget when Kid Poker collapsed to the ground as he saw his Main Event dream die at the hands of Joe McKeehen? That hand was nine years ago this summer, so we’d put Negreanu’s perfect entrance right back in that moment by training him to recreate Willy Wonka’s fake ‘fall’ at the Chocolate Factory gates in the classic movie that was released 53 years ago:


Phil Ivey is unlikely to be performing any sort of choreographed dance moves, right? Wrong.  Back in September of last year, Ivey’s hype video for the WPT Big One for One Drop was set to music, namely Can I Kick It? by A Tribe Called Quest. Turns out Ivey can definitely kick it.


If Ivey was to make a grand entrance, it would have to be solo. No dancing girls for Ivey, just him and a vibe. Perhaps that suitcase he carries to the cash desk during the WPT could come with him to the table, and he’d open it and look into the golden light of its contents a la Pulp Fiction. Then the camera can reveal his 10 WSOP Bracelets and play can begin.

Jason Koon has thrown down the gauntlet for big poker entrances. The only question is which legend off our list will pick it up and run with it.