Daniel Negreanu has been an absolute beast on the virtual felt against Doug Polk in recent weeks. Things got even better for the Poker Hall of Famer on Monday as he shipped a six-figure win, his fifth consecutive winning session.
The bad news for the GGPoker ambassador is he still faces a massive deficit. But the good news for him is he’s on the right track after once trailing by more than $950,000. And it wasn’t long ago that he was down by such a huge amount.
Polk and Negreanu are now 15,250 hands through a 25,000-hand heads-up no-limit hold’em poker challenge at the $200/$400 stakes on WSOP.com in Nevada.
In a sense, the outcome is close to what most expected. Polk has a big lead and he was the 5-1 favorite heading into the challenge. On the other hand, if you take away the luck factor from the first 19 sessions, there hasn’t been much difference in terms of skill between these players.
And that’s surprising to most because Polk is considered one of the best heads-up NLH players ever, while Negreanu is known for his live multi-table tournament prowess. But sometimes the prognosticators in sports and poker aren’t right.
Daniel Negreanu is back in the game
It may seem like Daniel Negreanu is getting crushed if you look at the overall scoreboard. But the truth of the matter is he’s only down 12 buy-ins with nearly 10,000 hands remaining.
Monday’s session was similar in one way to the previous four days and different in another. Negreanu won the previous four sessions but only by a combined $175,000. That’s less than five total buy-ins (each buy-in costs $40,000).
The reason he was unable to scoop big wins is down to late session collapses in most of those days. He would dominate for a couple of hours and then give back a big chunk of his profits in the final half hour.
That didn’t happen on Monday. On Day 26, the six-time WSOP bracelet winner started and finished strong. He jumped out of the gate to a quick $40,000 lead and then progressively built that over the four hours of play.
It wasn’t easy for Negreanu, however. Polk is a difficult opponent who rarely tilts when he’s losing. So, Negreanu had to continue battling to uphold his lead.
During the middle of the session, after trailing by over $100,000, Polk found some success with big bets, forcing Negreanu off pots. He erased much of the deficit at one point, but never caught up.
And then Negreanu took over late. For the first time in a while, he dominated the final hour of play and finished with a $132,648 profit over 750 hands. The deficit, once nearly at $1 million, is now down to $484,073 with 9,250 hands remaining.
Polk remains the heavy favorite and it won’t be easy for Negreanu to pull off a win. But after Monday’s impressive performance, he’s now within striking distance. A few more sessions like that and the match will become a coinflip.
With that said, Polk’s hit a rough patch but is more than capable of turning this thing back in his direction. Negreanu’s heads-up game has improved drastically throughout this challenge. But he’s still facing arguably the best heads-up player ever, which means he can’t get complacent.
Polk’s lead is still large enough that if he bounces back with a couple straight big winning sessions in a row, Negreanu will have virtually no shot at winning. Negreanu has no margin for error with nearly a $500,000 deficit and only 9,250 hands remaining.
Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk will be back in action Wednesday on WSOP.com at 2:30 pm PT. You can catch every hand live on the GGPoker YouTube channel.
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