Are Bryn Kenney’s heads-up challenges to Polk and Hellmuth for real?

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 07/09/2021

Bryn Kenney has been trying half-heartedly to cash in on the Heads Up Challenge craze more or less since it began. But he keeps vacillating. He issues challenges, and then fails to follow through, over and over. 

This week alone, he issued separate challenges to Phil Hellmuth and Doug Polk

This comes just a few weeks after he tried to goad Polk into playing him under rather different circumstances. It’s also only a couple of months since he issued a more general challenge to the poker world.

“I want to give credit and respect to Phil for sure, he’s got the most bracelets in the world,” Kenney told Sarah Herring in a recent interview. “He’s been crushing these guys in heads-up matches. I mean, he must have a special type of instinct for things in general. He’s a character, for sure. […] He can talk all he wants, but when he wants to talk about being an Apex predator and being best in the world, I’m like OK, sure, Phil. So how do you want to prove that? […] You choose the game and choose a high price and let’s just play. We can show people who is the best anytime.”

However, there is little sign that Kenney is serious about this challenge.

Phil Hellmuth already has a standing challenge on Heads-Up Duel. If Kenney really wants to take Hellmuth on, he just has to drop PokerGO an email.

Terms of disengagement

As for the Polk challenge, it is hard to view that as being made in good faith either. 

Polk issued a challenge to Bryn back in April. The terms were similar to the challenge Polk gave Daniel Negreanu. Kenney said he accepted this challenge, then immediately changed the terms to a single heads-up sit ‘n’ go with 20% of the pot going to charity.

“@DougPolkVids I accept your heads-up challenge,” Kenney wrote, before switching the bait to a “1 million dollar high stakes duel just like they do it. Winner gives at least 20% to charity.”

Once again, it seems carefully designed to dodge the challenges that already exist out there for him to accept.

Kenney’s challenge to Doug Polk was less wide-ranging than his offer to Hellmuth. Polk’s stance on both the sit’n’go format and charity are both part of the public record at this point. He is a fan of neither. In other words, it seems as though Kenney issued a challenge he knew would be turned down.

This feeling becomes stronger when you compare the breadth of options he gave Hellmuth (who never accepts these challenges except on High Stakes Duel) to the single High Stakes Duel-style option he gave Polk (who never accepts High Stakes Duel-style challenges but has made his terms clear elsewhere).

Challenge “accepted”

“Are you talking about playing a hu sng?” Doug Polk responded to Kenney’s challenge. “Not what I challenged you to, but I could see why you’d want up the variance. Can we cut the bullshit on trying to include charity to make yourself look better? Can we cut the bullshit on trying to include charity to make yourself look better? If I’m playing you it’s to take your money, not for the betterment of society.”

Bryn responded by pleading a busy schedule. Polk wasn’t buying it.

“Let’s get this straight. I’m only playing you because you are hopeless,” Polk wrote. “And I will destroy you in any reasonable format. Otherwise, you can carry on living a better existence without me.”

Kenney may or may not have a hope against Phil Hellmuth or Doug Polk in a heads-up challenge, but he’s absolute toast in a Twitter flame-war.

Featured image source: Flickr by WPT