Approaching the midway point: Polk still holds huge lead

Daniel Negreanu Doug Polk
Jon Sofen
Posted on: December 28, 2020 05:20 PST

As the Polk/Negreanu match is about to hit the midway point (12,500 hands), Doug Polk remains in full control against his rival Daniel Negreanu. After Friday's session, it appears this competition is destined to be one-sided.

Negreanu continues to claim that luck has been one of the biggest determining factors in the match. But with more than 12,000 hands already played, variance likely hasn't been as significant as he suggests.

Polk entered the match two months ago as the heavy favorite (5-1). He is considered one of the best heads-up no-limit hold'em online players ever. And that is the game of choice at $200/$400 stakes for this 25,000-hand competition. Negreanu, on the other hand, is more experienced and accomplished in live multi-table poker tournaments.

But the GGPoker ambassador, despite now trailing by over $800,000, insists luck has been the biggest difference in the score. Polk doesn't seem too concerned with the comments Negreanu's made during his post-game interviews on the GGPoker YouTube channel. He's more concerned with this match making him even richer than he was before.

Polk shuts down Negreanu's run

Negreanu trailed by $950,000 heading into Day 19. Over the next two sessions, he racked up a $260,000 profit, lowering the deficit to under $700,000. But the run of good fortune was short-lived.

The Poker Hall of Famer made numerous mistakes on Friday (Day 21). He got a bit too aggressive with pocket threes in one hand, five-bet shoving for over $40,000 and ran into Polk's pocket jacks, which held up. In another pot, he fired out a pre-flop four-bet to over $11,000 and then folded to an all-in shove.

He also made some loose calls, paying off Polk far too many times. To Negreanu's credit, Polk is an aggressive player who is capable of firing off large bluffs. And Negreanu did win some pots with marginal hands in which he called off a big bet on the river. But he also lost more of those pots to large sized river bets.

As has been the case in many sessions, Polk got off to a strong start. Two hours in, he had nearly a $200,000 profit. But Negreanu was able to fight back and nearly gained the lead at one point. If not for a river ace that forced a chop in one hand (Negreanu and Polk both hit trip sevens but Negreanu's kicker was stronger), he would have led by around $40,000 about four hours into the match.

Unfortunately, for the GGPoker ambassador, it was nothing but fool's gold. Polk quickly regained control and began to dominate. In the end, he booked a $114,140 profit over 903 hands. The poker stars have now completed 12,221 hands at $200/$400 stakes on, and Polk leads by $810,468, the equivalent of 20.3 buy-ins.

The 12,500-hand mark should be reached during Monday's session (2:30 pm PT). That's an important mark in the match because the losing player is allowed to call it quits without penalty at that point.

Negreanu, however, isn't likely to give up at 12,500 hands. He's not only wealthy and can afford the loss, but also continues to express confidence in his game. The former PokerStars pro even recently said that he'd consider a 25,000-hand rematch once this one is finished.

If he does continue to battle one of the best heads-up players ever in this format, he may no longer be as wealthy as he was before. If the current pace continues, he'll be down around $1.7 million after the first 25,000 hands are played. He may wish to reconsider challenging Doug Polk to a rematch.

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