Upset brewing: Negreanu pulls ahead in grudge match against Polk

Daniel Negreanu Doug Polk
Jon Sofen
Posted on: November 19, 2020 10:33 PST

Forget what you heard about how Daniel Negreanu has no shot against Doug Polk. Things aren't exactly going as planned.

Negreanu isn't just holding his own and proving he can be competitive against the heads-up no-limit hold'em legend. He's in the lead and has outplayed his opponent throughout much of the match. We're now seven sessions into the challenge and it's going in a different direction than most expected.

Polk entered the match as a 4-1 favorite. Some poker players even laid as high as 10-1 odds on the Upswing Poker founder to win. But there's no denying those odds were way off base. That's not to say Polk won't end up winning, but it's clear Negreanu's true skill level is worth better than 4-1 or 10-1 odds. In fact, if you didn't know anything about these two poker players through seven sessions and watched them play every hand, you wouldn't know who the better player is.

Polk was projected to win the 25,000-hand challenge at $200/$400 stakes possibly by more than $1 million because of his past history as an online heads-up crusher. Negreanu, on the other hand, has dominated for 20 years as a live multi-table tournament specialist.

Things don't always go as planned

Polk has trash talked Negreanu for years. And prior to the match beginning two weeks ago, he said he's going to "back the truck up" and take his rival's money before "taking out the trash." His predictions aren't exactly going as planned.

Entering Wednesday's session, the Upswing Poker founder held a $67,626 lead, thanks in large part to some very fortunate river cards in massive all-in pots. During Day 7, however, he took an absolute beating from the Poker Hall of Famer.

Negreanu was the one on Wednesday backing the truck up. The poker masters played 591 hands over just under three hours on At the end of the session, "Kid Poker" took home a $222,832 profit, his most dominating performance of the match. He now leads the overall challenge by $155,206 in 2,965 hands.

The difference in Wednesday's match was mostly Negreanu simply picking off Polk's bluffs. He showed little respect for Polk's large bets and often called him down light, winning some big pots.

Despite the rough stretch for Polk and the huge deficit, he hasn't lost his confidence. The three-time WSOP bracelet winner wrote on Twitter: "Dont get it twisted, I'm gonna win the challenge. Remember this tweet."

Polk's frustrations boiled over to social media as internet legend Dan Bilzerian, who claims he's won $50 million playing poker, talked some trash.

Polk, who rarely shies away from a Twitter battle, fired back. The YouTube personality responded by saying, "You want next bud? I'd say lets go but you aren't man enough to play without begging for odds."

Bilzerian has in the past admitted Polk would beat him at heads-up. So, it's unlikely he'd ever take on such a challenge despite being one of the wealthiest poker players ever. The social media playboy prefers playing against wealthy businesspeople and celebrities in high-stakes Hollywood home games as opposed to battling against skilled pros.

Instead, Polk and Negreanu will return to the virtual felt on Tuesday for another session beginning at 2:30 pm PT.

Featured image source: Twitter