Should Daniel Negreanu call it quits against Doug Polk?

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 12/15/2020

“High Stakes Feud” approaching 12,500-hand opt-out point

The “High Stakes Feud” heads-up match between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk isn’t going well for Negreanu. 

The match is scheduled as a 25,000-hand cash game battle at $200/$400 stakes. The losing player has an option to opt-out after 12,500 hands, and the match is fast approaching that mark with Negreanu down big.

The latest session saw Negreanu gain back some much-needed ground. Session 18 saw 834 hands play out between the longtime rivals, with Negreanu winning $143,642.

Even with that upswing, however, Negreanu has lost $814,290 to Polk since the challenge started Nov. 4. The match is now on a short break as Negreanu spent this week playing in the 2020 WSOP Main Event.

Session 18 ended with Polk and Negreanu at the 10,784-hand mark of the scheduled 25,000-hand set. Play is set to resume again soon, and “High Stakes Feud” will likely hit the 12,500-hand midway point sometime before the end of the year.

Should Negreanu throw up the white flag when the opt-out option comes up? He’s been down almost $1 million at times during the challenge and even had to make an emergency deposit at the Rio Las Vegas casino cage to replenish his WSOP.com balance.

Negreanu shows no signs of surrender

Despite the nearly seven-figure deficit, Negreanu hasn’t given any indication that he’ll drop the challenge at the 12,500-hand mark. His latest tweet on the matter explicitly mentioned Negreanu looking ahead to the second half of the match.

“Crunching some numbers from the challenge: Currently losing 10bb/100 (you don’t get to count all in EV spots) and would bet real money that I’ve lost with two natural pair or better at a ratio of at least 3-1. Looking forward to second half!” tweeted Negreanu on Dec. 14.

The next two chapters of the match are scheduled for Dec. 21 and Dec 23. By that time the match should be very close to the 12,500-hand opt-out point.

Negreanu likely has plenty of bankroll left to continue in the challenge. He’s won more than $42 million in live tournaments over his career, and has spent the past decade-plus in paid roles as an ambassador for PokerStars and later GGPoker.

Polk returned to poker after more than a year away from the game just to play Negreanu in the heads-up match. The long-awaited culmination of the Negreanu-Polk feud has Polk returning to his pre-retirement competitive form.

“All jokes aside, I do not care how many dollars I’m up or down, I’ll continue to mercilessly grind and improve until I play my final hand,” Polk tweeted Dec. 11. “At any point this can turn, I have a lot on the line and will spend however much time it takes to ensure a complete and total victory.”

That tweet reminds us about exactly who Negreanu is up against. Polk, one of the best heads-up players in the world at the time of his “retirement,” stands as probably the toughest challenge Negreanu has faced in his career.

Does that mean Negreanu should throw in the towel? If he’s thinking from a purely financial perspective, maybe.

His reputation as a fiery, stand-up competitor takes a big hit if he bows out early, however. The Negreanu vs. Polk match plays on as one of the most anticipated battles in poker history, and if Negreanu quits early he’ll likely hear about it for the rest of his career.

For that reason, Negreanu should stick it out, and hope to not end up with a million-plus deficit at the end of 25,000 hands.

Featured image source: Twitch