Doug Polk takes on Landon Tice in heads-up battle

Geoff Fisk
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Posted on: August 20, 2020 6:51 pm EDT

Heads-up match streamed live on the Solve For Why YouTube channel

Doug Polk is out of retirement and playing selected opponents in heads-up matches on the Winning Poker Network. One of Polk’s latest matches saw the heads-up poker legend take on one of poker’s rising stars, in perhaps the most interesting match yet during Polk’s comeback.

Polk and Landon Tice battled for nearly three hours, playing two concurrent cash games at $2/$4 stakes on WPN’s True Poker skin. Tice came away with a $500 win.

The heads-up match pitted Polk, one of the most successful players from the 2010s, against Tice, a 21-year old who has rapidly climbed the cash game stakes ladder in the last 18 months.

Polk retired from poker in 2019 as one of the game’s most well-known and successful players. He returned to the game earlier this month, in preparation for an upcoming heads-up challenge against Daniel Negreanu.

WPN has played host to a series of heads-up matches between Polk and various opponents, as Polk warms up for the showdown against Negreanu.

Two eras of poker collide

Polk earned a reputation as one of the game’s toughest players in the 2010s, and reached status as arguably the best heads-up player in the world. Polk’s work ethic and study habits away from the table led to his rise to prominence as a world-class player.

The bulk of Polk’s poker success came before the era of solvers, which function as advanced poker software aimed at “solving” specific hand situations from a game-theory optimal perspective. Polk’s success in the poker industry includes the launch of Upswing Poker, a poker training site the pro founded.

Polk began to play poker much less often in the later years of the 2010s, and retired from the game completely after playing in a couple of events at the 2019 World Series of Poker.

Tice’s rise up the cash game ladder comes in an era of poker where solver-based strategies have taken over. Tice’s Twitch channel streams often include study sessions based on solver outputs, as well as Tice in action at the 200NL and 500NL cash game tables.

With Polk, still only 31 years old and coming out of retirement, the Polk vs. Tice warm-up match featured a fascinating matchup between different styles and eras. Polk admits he’s “never used a solver in my life” on Twitter.

Session highlights

One of the bigger pots played on the Solve For Why stream began with Tice opening to $10 with KJ♠, and Polk making the call. The flop came 3♠28, and Polk check-called a $6.23 continuation bet from Tice.

The K♣ came in on the turn. Polk checked, Tice double barreled for $26.23, and Polk check-raised to $78. Tice made the call.

Polk made an overbet on the river, betting $300 into the $187.46 pot. Tice called, and Polk turned over K♠2♠ for two pair, good enough to take down the $787.46 pot.

Tice came out ahead at the end of the session however, netting a $500 win. That margin was equivalent to 1.25 buy-ins for the 400NL match.

Polk preparing for showdown against Negreanu

The warm-up matches between Polk and chosen opponents on WPN mark the first time Polk has played poker since the 2019 WSOP. In a March 2020 video on his Doug Polk Poker YouTube channel, Polk announced that he would also be stepping away from making poker-related video content.

While it seemed Polk was ready to leave the game for good, a Twitter exchange between him and Negreanu at the end of July reignited a long-running feud between two of poker’s biggest names. That argument led to Polk and Negreanu agreeing to play each other in a heads-up challenge, with the dates and conditions of that challenge still to be determined.

When the Polk vs. Negreanu match does happen, the poker world will be watching, as these two rivals finally settle the score on the felt.