Negreanu, Polk both showing off high-level of play during heads-up match

Daniel Negreanu Doug Polk
Jon Sofen
Posted on: November 18, 2020 11:26 PST

Much to the surprise of many in the poker community, it isn't just Doug Polk who is playing at a high-level in his heads-up match against Daniel Negreanu.

Before this match began two weeks ago, few gave Negreanu any shot at winning. He was a 4-1 underdog according to the PokerShares betting site. And for all we know, Polk may eventually go on to win big, perhaps by $1 million or more.

But at this point in the challenge, through six sessions, few watching would consider this to be a dominating performance from Polk, who is seen as one of the best heads-up no-limit hold'em players ever. Negreanu is more than holding his own against the man who has verbally attacked him on social media the past four years.

Polk and Negreanu have been feuding for years, although most of the attacks have come from Polk's side, at least publicly. There's no secret that they don't particularly like each other, but they've been cordial throughout the first six sessions of the match. During the only live session, they were friendly and even joked around often. It was a stark contrast from their heated arguments on social media.

The poker pros are currently in the midst of a 25,000-hand heads-up hold'em online challenge, although the player who is trailing in the match at 12,500 hands has the option to quit. But if the match is close, don't expect either player to walk away.

They're playing at $200/$400 stakes with $40,000 buy-ins, two tables at a time, so the swings can be massive as we've already seen. Through 2,374 hands, Polk leads the grudge match by $67,625. That might seem like a ton of money, especially to most poker players, but it really isn't, relatively speaking. We're talking less than two full buy-ins. Negreanu could make up that deficit in a matter of minutes. Or, he could find himself in a six figure hole in the same amount of time.

Negreanu holding his own

Although we don't technically have a huge sample size to assess the caliber of play, 2,374 hands isn't exactly a tiny sample size either. So, we have a pretty good idea how skilled both of these players are at this point. And it's quite clear that Negreanu isn't going to be as much of a pushover as many expected.

The GGPoker ambassador has held his own thus far. In fact, some would argue he's actually outplayed the heads-up legend. Luck just hasn't been on Negreanu's side. He's twice lost pots with $80,000 or more in the middle to a river suck-out, but has yet to win a pot in that manner.

If you take away the luck factor, removing the bad beats in massive pots that favored Polk, Negreanu would be out in front. With that said, Polk may also just be working off some rust, so perhaps he'll improve his game as the challenge moves on.

The Upswing Poker founder retired from poker a couple years ago and hasn't grinded the heads-up streets online for a few years. So, maybe he'll perform at a higher level going forward and end up winning big, just like most poker players predicted.

Featured image source: Twitter