Daniel Negreanu impressively dominated Doug Polk in the first session of their high-stakes grudge match. But the remainder of the match now shifts to the internet, and that heavily favors the Upswing Poker founder.
Negreanu busted out to a fast start in the match, pulling ahead by $115,000 through the first 200 hands, all of which were live-streamed from the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas. Getting off to a hot start is beneficial in any poker competition. The GGPoker ambassador now has some margin for error going forward. However, that seemingly massive lead really isn’t all that big.
The feuding poker pros are playing up to 25,000 hands of no-limit Texas hold’em at $200/$400 stakes. Each player buys in $50,000 to each table. So, Negreanu’s lead is only a bit more than two buy-ins, which really isn’t much given there are still as many as 24,800 hands remaining. They’ve agreed to play at least 12,500 hands and if the losing player at the time wants another 12,500 hands, they can request it.
Negreanu impressed the 30,000+ viewers during the only live poker session they’ll play. He pulled off a huge timely bluff and won another massive pot when Polk got caught bluffing on the river. The six-time WSOP bracelet winner is in good shape to start, but less than 1% of all hands have been dealt.
Here comes the pain?
The good news for Negreanu is he’s ahead in the match by six figures right off the bat. But the bad news is, he’ll in an uphill battle the rest of the way. That’s because Doug Polk has made millions of dollars in this exact format — online heads-up no-limit hold’em.
Polk is playing the specific game in the exact format that made him rich. That’s not to say Negreanu isn’t a great poker player. He’s one of the best poker players in history. But his specialty has always been in live tournaments and, when he was younger, live full-table cash games. He has limited experience playing heads-up online.
In theory, the better player will win over a large enough sample size, which 25,000 hands definitely is. The inferior player can win in the short-term (i.e. the opening session of 200 hands). So, this is where Negreanu is going to have trouble winning this match. He’s facing one of the best online heads-up players ever over a huge sample size.
For most, that wouldn’t be a winning proposition. But Negreanu isn’t an ordinary poker pro. He’s won over $40 million lifetime in live tournaments and is set for life financially because of poker. The GGPoker ambassador can afford to lose this challenge, even if he loses more than $1 million, but it’s hard to believe someone as skilled as he is at poker would take on this competition if he didn’t believe he could be competitive. So, maybe he’ll surprise everyone.
With that said, Polk has dominated some of the best heads-up players in the world. Negreanu is in for a tough test even though he already has a six-figure lead.
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