Day 33 was, to put it mildly, quite an eventful session between long-time rivals and foes, Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk. The dormant rivalry heated up once again for the first time in months.
Heading into the High Stakes Feud, the fierce rivals were far from cordial with each other. Polk has taunted and tormented Negreanu for years. He even went so far as to purchase a billboard in 2018 outside the Rio in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker to mock the then PokerStars ambassador.
The bitter feud continued right up until the heads-up challenge began in October. And then all of a sudden, the poker pros became cordial with each other, almost as if they had suddenly become best friends.
But it appears the honeymoon is over. After Day 30, in which Polk booked a $298,000 win, Negreanu complained about how unlucky he’s been getting. Polk took offense to those comments and claimed he’s the one who has been unlucky overall, and posted a video on Twitter of him doing a celebratory dance.
Negreanu then answered by winning $390,000 the following session, and then picked up a small win on Day 32. In the latter session, Polk began limping buttons to lower variance as he’s trying to ensure he holds on to win the challenge so that he also wins his massive side bets.
On Day 33 (Wednesday), however, the rivalry intensified when Negreanu began repeatedly tanking in response to the button limping. After the match, he said his reasoning was he needed to take extra time to think about his decisions now that Polk is using a different strategy.
Polk took issue with the tanking. He stopped the match after 30 minutes to communicate with Phil Galfond, who was designated as an intermediary for the challenge.
Galfond, who recently won his own heads-up poker battle against Chance Kornuth, was put in the position to determine if Negreanu could continue tanking or if he would be required to speed up the pace of play or face a penalty. Polk immediately took to Twitter to publicly trash his rival for the first time in quite some time.
“Completely pathetic showing from @RealKidPoker today Tanking 20 seconds to open, tanking 20 seconds to check flop, tanking every single decision in an effort to slow the game down to nothing. Total piece of s**t move,” the Upswing Poker founder wrote.
Back to the felt
Fifteen minutes after the players sought mediation, Galfond inevitably ruled no penalty would be enforced and that tanking is within the rules. But he also advised Negreanu to discontinue tanking in the spirit of competition.
Negreanu obliged as the players returned to the felt. The tanking came to a stop, and so did Negreanu’s winning. Polk, who trailed early in the match by over $50,000, completely destroyed his opponent from that point on.
Negreanu may have lit a fire under his rival’s backside. The button limping from Polk also stopped, as he picked up the aggressiveness and dominated like he has throughout most of this challenge.
After the dust settled, and three hours of play complete, Polk ran up another $136,239 profit in 560 hands. The poker stars have now played 19,922 hands with Polk’s lead back up to $701,948 and 5,078 hands remaining.
The bitter, intense rivalry between two long-time foes is most definitely back. Will it remain that way, or will the players put it behind them and go back to being cordial? You’ll find out that answer on Day 34, which takes place Friday at 2:30 pm PT.
Featured image: Twitter