Daniel Negreanu was more than competitive in the opening session of his heads-up poker grudge match against Doug Polk. The GGPoker booked an impressive win through the first 200 hands played. But the remaining format is about to change, possibly an advantage to his opponent.
The poker pros have feuded over petty little issues (PokerStars rake increases, etc.) on social media the past few years. Anger and resentment has boiled over for years between these two talented poker players. And now they’re ready to turn that hatred towards each other into a high-stakes poker competition, although there certainly wasn’t much hostility on display during the first session.
Polk and Negreanu met at the PokerGO Studio on the Las Vegas Strip Wednesday evening to play the first 200 hands of the $200/$400 heads-up no-limit hold’em challenge live. Seated across from each other at the poker table for nearly four hours, they both remained cordial throughout. That’s a stark contrast to the hateful rhetoric spewed towards each other online the past few years.
PokerGO commentators Ali Nejad and Kane Kalas were both in shock at how respectful the players were. Neither player flung an insult at his opponent, and they even traded laughs and constant banter throughout the evening. Some poker Twitter users found it refreshing while others were hoping for a verbal bloodbath. Both players explained the politeness afterwards.
I was happy that despite our history, and with all the divisiveness in the country right now, that @DougPolkVids and I could be civil and put on a show that the poker community could both be proud of and enjoy the fireworks.
Online Friday 2:30pm PST
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) November 5, 2020
“I was happy that despite our history, and with all the divisiveness in the country right now, that @DougPolkVids and I could be civil and put on a show that the poker community could both be proud of and enjoy the fireworks.,” Negreanu wrote.
“Same. I know a lot of people wanted some IRL drama but the reality is we are both there to play. Looking forward to Friday,” Polk responded.
Late surge propels Negreanu to victory
The long-time feuding poker pros are set to play a minimum of 12,500 hands of $200/$400 cash game no-limit hold’em poker, mostly on the WSOP.com poker site in Nevada. But for just this one evening, they agreed to play the first 200 hands — less than 1% of the entire challenge — live on the PokerGO app (and PokerGO YouTube channel). And, although it’s way early, Negreanu is off to an excellent start.
Throughout much of the opening session, the match was a bit dull. There weren’t many big pots or key bluffs. It wasn’t until late before either player moved all-in in a hand. With only about 30 hands left to play, neither player had a significant lead at any point in time. They mostly traded small pots and small leads. And then everything completely changed out of nowhere.
Fireworks ensued on the 193rd hand of the night, shortly after Negreanu pulled off a sick river bluff, when Polk attempted his own river bluff. However, the Upswing Poker founder picked a horrible time to bluff. He bet all-in for $43,000 into a pot of $27,000 with nothing but queen-high and ran into Negreanu’s trips (three sixes). Of course, “DNegs” made the call and Polk shrugged his shoulders in disappointment.
He later failed in an attempt at another river bluff in a smaller pot. The three hands proved costly as he ended the session down $116,500. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are still at least 12,300 hands remaining and he could turn it around in just a few hands.
Polk remains the favorite in the heads-up challenge given that he’s an online HUNL specialist. Negreanu’s specialty is more in live tournaments. But he’s off to a strong start and although it’s early, he proved he isn’t going to be an easy opponent.
Featured image source: Twitter