Doug Polk, Daniel Negreanu feud over use of RTAs in upcoming heads-up match

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on: October 9, 2020 8:20 pm EDT

Stop the presses — Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu are feuding. This time, they’re arguing over the use of Real-Time Assistance (RTA) in their upcoming heads-up match.

The poker stars have been feuding for the past few years over numerous issues, namely Negreanu’s previous affiliation with PokerStars. Polk often criticized “Kid Poker” for defending the poker site following changes that were less than beneficial towards pros, at least as he saw it.

As a result of the longstanding feud, the poker pros are set to face off in a high-stakes, heads-up poker match on The competition is scheduled to begin November 1, but they haven’t agreed on every single little detail. What we know is they’ll play 25,000 hands of no-limit Texas hold’em at the $200/$400 stakes. Each day, they’ll play two tables at a time.

But there are a few minor issues to work out before the highly-anticipated match kicks off. One of those issues is the use of RTAs. What are RTAs? A type of assistance that helps players make the mathematically correct decision in any spot. They can be automatic (computerized) or input manually, sort of a guide for the player to determine the proper play in a tough spot.

So, let’s say you’re facing a huge jam to a tight player on the river with bottom two-pair, a strong but potentially vulnerable hand against this type of player. You’re in a tough spot, but could refer to your RTA to make the smartest play. RTAs are prevalent by the top online poker pros as they help give them an edge and make their lives easier since they don’t have to calculate the odds on the spot.

On many poker sites, including Negreanu’s GGPoker, RTAs are banned. That even includes having a push/fold chart which is a simple chart that tells players when to fold or shove all-in pre-flop.

Arguments for and against RTAs

Daniel Negreanu is an old-school player who specializes in live tournament play. So, naturally, he opposes the use of RTAs, solvers, and anything that helps a player make a decision other than their own brain.

Polk, previously one of the top heads-up online poker players, has a slightly different argument. The Upswing Poker founder opposes using RTAs that provide  real-time assistance, such as a sim, which is a computer program that assists players during a game.

But he is arguing that he should be able to keep notes such as a push/fold chart or strategy. Negreanu opposes even having pre-flop charts available. He wants both players to simply play each other straight-up, without assistance from any RTAs, pre-flop charts, sims, or solvers.

Doyle Brunson, one of poker’s greatest living legends, sided with Negreanu. Back in the 1970s and 1980s when he dominated the game, there were no RTAs or solvers available. Players in that era had to trust their gut instincts.

“Want to know why I never played high stakes internet poker? I have no idea what all those things are. In my day, we played what our gut told us to do. Using that stuff ruins poker,” Brunson said of RTAs on Twitter.

Polk explained what RTAs are to Negreanu, in case he didn’t already know.

Featured image source: Flickr