Wild back and forth session as Negreanu chips into Polk's lead

Doug Polk Daniel Negreanu
Jon Sofen
Posted on: November 12, 2020 07:19 PST

Daniel Negreanu stopped the bleeding, at least briefly, in his heads-up match against Doug Polk. He finally turned in a winning session online, although it could have, and should have, been an even bigger win.

Polk entered Wednesday's match with a lead of $262,000, about the size of 6.5 buy-ins at the $200/$400 stakes. He was favored going into the challenge and reaffirmed that status through the first four sessions. The Upswing Poker founder had completely dominated the match in the early stages.

Things continued in that direction through much of Wednesday's Day 4 session. Polk repeatedly bet big on the river and forced his opponent to fold. He also won a few coolers in big pots, which has been a constant theme to this heads-up grudge match. But poker is a funny game sometimes, and the contest completely shifted in the other direction unexpectedly on Wednesday afternoon.

With Polk leading by nearly $100,000 on the day, and $360,000 overall, Negreanu finally found a way to win a big pot. He picked up pocket kings in the big blind and his opponent held pocket jacks. In heads-up no-limit hold'em, in situations like that, the money is often going to get in before the flop. Big pocket pairs are too valuable in the heads-up format, so the profitable play is to shove all-in in most cases.

That was how the $95,000 hand played out as all the money went in pre-flop. Negreanu's hand held up and he, for the first time in over 1,200 hands, won a massive cooler. Even better for the six-time WSOP bracelet winner, that hand was just the start of good things to come. Well, right up until the last hand of the session.

Turning the tide

Day 4 for Negreanu was all about reversing the tide, and getting back into the match. At the very least, he needed to pull off a break-even session as the match was trending towards a seven-figure defeat for the GGPoker pro. He got what he needed on Wednesday, and nearly got even more.

After winning the massive pocket with pocket kings, Negreanu took over the match. He finally began calling off on the river to Polk's over-bets. That helped him win some big pots the rest of the session. The popular poker player also won a key hand with ace-queen as he hit trips and suckered Polk into triple-barrel bluffing, leading to a $100,000 pot win.

Negreanu had gone from trailing by around $360,000 overall on Wednesday to being within one cruel river card away from being down just $100,000. On the last hand of the two-hour session, both players were all-in on the flop with $81,000 in the middle. Polk was in a world of hurt with pocket 10's up against pocket jacks. But he saw two hearts peel off on the turn and river, giving him the winning hand with a 10-high flush.

The pot was costly to Negreanu who ended up booking an $87,000 win for the day instead of a $168,000 profit. Overall, he now trails by $180,865 through 1,372 hands, but if not for the heart on the river, he would only be down around $100,000.

There's still so much left to play — more than 11,000 hands — so he still has plenty of time to erase that deficit. But what a cruel way to end an otherwise positive session for the Poker Hall of Famer.

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