Daniel Negreanu back in the ballgame following $390k win

Doug Polk Daniel Negreanu
Jon Sofen
Posted on: January 25, 2021 06:56 PST

Don't ever give up on the poker legend. Daniel Negreanu booked a $390,000 winning session on Day 30, a desperately needed heater he's been waiting weeks for. Entering the day, he trailed by just over $1 million.

Doug Polk was on top of the world Wednesday after adding $300,000 to his lead. He even showed off his (really bad) dance moves celebrating reaching that $1 million milestone in a cringe video.

Polk may have learned a valuable lesson on Friday, however: don't get too cocky, and stay humble. That's because Negreanu humbled him on Day 31 with a $390,000 win over 1,046 hands, the largest winning session for either player. The lead went from $1,002,000 all the way down to $612,563. Perhaps it was karma for the premature celebrator.

On a positive note for the Upswing Poker founder, he still holds a sizable lead. And, even better for him, the match is down to its final 6,076 hands (18,924 played to date). Polk even said following Friday's match that he's ready to get this thing over with and move on from poker.

Granted, he originally retired from poker a couple years ago but that didn't last long. He hasn't officially ruled out facing another heads-up challenger after this one concludes, or accepting a rematch.

Despite the huge victory on Day 31, the battle remains uphill for Negreanu. Even after that impressive performance, he's still down more than 15 buy-ins. The good news for him is that because of that session, he's now at least sort of within striking distance. That sure beats trailing by over seven figures.

How'd that happen?

Here's the crazy part about Negreanu's $390,000 win: he actually lost one $80,000 pot to a cooler and chopped on a suckout in another $117,000 pot. In the suckout hand, Negreanu got it all-in pre-flop with kings and was ahead by miles against Polk's pocket queens. The board, however, ran out 2-3-4-A-5 for a straight on board and they chopped the pot.

After that early hand, it was pretty much all Daniel Negreanu. Everything went his way it seemed until the very end when Polk chopped off a chunk of what was a $450,000 lead for the session.

Negreanu ran hot, but he also benefited from Polk calling off big river bets a bit light. That's Polk's strategy, however, and it works for him over the long haul. He plays a game theory optimal (GTO)-based strategy, which means he's going to occasionally lose big pots with marginal hands. But he'll also pick off some big bluffs with that philosophy.

On Day 31, he ran into numerous monster hands from Negreanu, and that led to a rough outing. He also lost a few coolers, including one hand in which he held A-J on an A-8-J flop. Negreanu, in position, raised the flop, and Polk shoved and got instant called.

Negreanu showed pocket eights for a set, and then a fourth 8 landed on the river, giving the GGPoker ambassador quads and a $109,000 pot. In another $95,000 pot, Negreanu got maximum value on his K-6 full house (board read Q-9-6-K-K). Polk called off a huge all-in river bet with Q-7.

Polk also bluffed off a stack a couple of times. He lost with J-9 on a K-5-4-7-8 board, bluffing all-in, hoping to sell that he had a straight. But Negreanu made the call with top pair (K-J), unafraid of the straight possibility, and took down a $67,000 pot.

The session was nearly perfect for Negreanu. But he needs a couple more of those to rally and pull off what might be the biggest upset in poker history.

Featured image source: Twitter