Grudge Match Day 16: Doug Polk drops the hammer

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: December 8, 2020 6:09 pm EST

Doug Polk is beginning to turn his heads-up poker grudge match against Daniel Negreanu into a bloodbath, following another impressive performance. And after Monday’s session, you have to start wondering just how long this challenge will last.

The player who is down after 12,500 hands — and it’s likely that will be Negreanu — determines what happens next in the match. He can either choose to continue playing, and another 12,500 hands will be dealt, or call it quits without any penalty.

Through 16 sessions — 15 of which were played online — the poker stars have completed 8,291 hands. That means they are 66.3% of the way to the 12,500 mark. Given the current state of affairs — Polk is now up by nearly $700,000 — there may be little incentive for Negreanu to play the entire 25,000 hands. Well, unless he has a masochistic side we don’t know about.

Daniel Negreanu in a world of hurt

Playing Doug Polk heads-up online in no-limit hold’em is a daunting task, even for the top HUNLH players in the world. The Upswing Poker founder is one of the best ever in this format. So, Negreanu was in deep trouble heading into the match even though he’s one of the all-time greats, but in a different format (live tournaments).

But on top of being out-classed by Polk, the GGPoker ambassador is running back. He’s running into many big hands, as Polk has seemingly hit more monster hands than he has. And his all-in expected value has been low.

With that said, anyone watching the match objectively will tell you Polk is simply outplaying him. The previously retired poker pro is getting his opponent to do what he wants often. When he’s looking for a call with a big hand, Negreanu is often calling him off with large sized bets. And although we can’t see the hole cards except at showdown, it’s safe to say Polk is getting through his fair share of big bluffs.

To Negreanu’s credit, he’s made some great calls against big bets in hands Polk was bluffing. That’s happened many times during this challenge. But, more frequently, he’s called off big bets on the river with the worst hand.

Negreanu said after his most recent session (Monday) that he’s been running bad. He claims his flush and straight draws aren’t coming through. That may be the case, but it isn’t the only reason he is now down approximately $674,000 in 8,291 hands of $200/$400 no-limit hold’em. The player who was heavily favored entering this challenge is just straight up playing like you’d expect from a heads-up legend.

On Monday, Polk won for the first time in four sessions, booking a $160,348 win over 824 hands in just over four hours. That not only erased all of his losses from the previous three sessions ($77,000), but also gave him an extra $83,000 on top.

Negreanu and Polk each deposited $1 million into their accounts prior to the start of the challenge. You have to wonder at this point just how long it will be before Negreanu is forced to make another deposit.

The long-time feuding, but no longer feuding (apparently) poker pros will be back at it Wednesday at 2:30 pm. They have scheduled to also play at the same time on Thursday and Friday, and will take next week off.

Featured image source: Flickr