Doug Polk starting to prove why he was so heavily favored against Daniel Negreanu

Jon Sofen
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Posted on 11/27/2020

Doug Polk entered his grudge match against Daniel Negreanu as a heavy favorite, and he’s now finally showing why most bet on him to win. Following Day 11, the Upswing Poker founder is now an even bigger favorite (-1250) than he’s been at any point.

Why have the odds shifted in Polk’s favor so drastically? Because he’s absolutely destroyed his opponent the past three sessions. That includes a $120,000 profit on Wednesday, in which he won numerous pots thanks to some fortunate river cards. He also earned that victory by successfully forcing Negreanu to fold to massive over-bets.

PokerShares currently has Polk as a 2/25 favorite, meaning the oddsmakers think the likelihood that he’ll lose this challenge is slim, very slim. But that really shouldn’t be too surprising given that most anticipated Polk would win by a wide margin before the match began a few weeks ago. After all, he’s considered one of the top heads-up no-limit hold’em players of all-time and is facing a pro who doesn’t specialize in that format.

With that said, despite now trailing by $264,019 through 5,067 hands following Wednesday’s session, Negreanu has been more than competitive throughout most of the challenge. In fact, he actually held a six-figure lead through eight sessions. And he’s shown that he’s better at heads-up NLH than most anticipated.

But the luck simply hasn’t been on his side thus far, as Polk has won numerous huge pots due to some fortunate river cards. Even worse for Negreanu, his opponent is now starting to exploit some of his weaknesses, most notably his light river calling range and penchant to give up on pots on the turn if his flop continuation bet is unsuccessful.

Doug Polk winning with luck and skill

Negreanu said on Twitter that he picked up pocket aces four times during the two-hour Day 11 session. That often pays off handsomely, but not when you’re running bad. He claims he raised on the button three times with aces and Polk folded in the big blind, and the other time his opponent folded to a three-bet. So, although he didn’t lose a bad beat with pocket aces out of four times, he was unable to turn much of a profit with the best starting hand in poker.

That’s sort of been the main story line for Negreanu, who can’t seem to find a way to win a big pot. Polk, on the other hand, has won some massive pots with over-bets on the river with monster hands. That’s been his ticket to success thus far — getting Negreanu to call off big bets light when he’s nutted.

Another area of concern for Negreanu going forward is he’s often picked the wrong time to check-raise bluff. In many cases, he’s check-raised right into Polk’s big hand. That certainly isn’t a recipe for success. To win this match, Negreanu will need his check-raise bluffs to get through more often than they have so far.

On a positive note for Negreanu and those who bet on him to win, he still has plenty of time to fix his flaws and pull this thing out. The feuding poker pros have played just 5,067 of 25,000 hands, although there’s a good chance the player who is trailing at 12,500 hands will decide to call it quits.

The heads-up grudge match, played at the $200/$400 stakes on WSOP.com, will return to action on Saturday with Day 12 beginning at 2:30 pm PT. You can catch every hand live on one of the many YouTube channels streaming the game (Joey Ingram, Upswing Poker, Doug Polk Poker, GGPoker, etc.).

Featured image source: Twitter