Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu just completed another session of their grudge match on Jan 27, playing 560 hands. After booking two straight wins, which effectively reduced his massive deficit from $1 million to just over $500,000, Negreanu lost his most recent match against Polk, and now he is currently behind by $701,948.
“Pathetic”: Tanking Issue Hits the Spotlight
Day 33 of the battle went in favor of Polk, but not without controversy. About half an hour into the session, the game was forced to a halt after Polk sat out because Negreanu kept on tanking. Phil Galfond had to be called in to fix the matter so the pair could resume playing.
The Run It Once founder who’s currently serving as mediator in the match, encouraged Negreanu to avoid the practice, though he also ruled that tanking does not necessarily violate the rules.
The Canadian heeded Galfond’s advice and the game continued, but Polk didn’t let the day pass without attacking his opponent on social media. Tagging Negreanu’s own account on Twitter, Polk expressed his frustration at his long-time rival’s frequent tanking, describing it as “completely pathetic”. The American poker pro said Negreanu would just tank every single decision, slowing down the game.
After Galfond’s call, both went back into action, and while Negreanu booked an initial lead of around $60,000, Polk’s aggression crushed it by subsequently taking down multiple huge pots. Negreanu’s lead quickly turned to dust, and just like that Polk ended the session with a $136,239 win.
Negreanu Puts The Blame On Polk’s Sudden Change of Strategy
During Day 32 of their grudge match, Negreanu managed to outlast Polk by over $46,000. That’s on the back of a massive $390K victory during the previous session. Negreanu noticed that Polk was beginning to adopt a major change in his play style.
Polk had been very aggressive for most parts of the battle, however on their 32nd session, his play was the complete opposite. He turned into a “prevent defense” player, as how Negreanu described it, adopting a pre-flop limping strategy. This confused the former all-time money leader, and he tweeted that he had to put in some “study time” to “figure out” the new style.
Some poker fans understood why Polk had to change his game, and that’s to lower variance and keep his advantage until the challenge is completed. Also, Polk has ongoing massive side-bets on the match that needs to be protected. Spectators think it’s a safe move, with just over 5,000 hands remaining in the match.
Polk clarified it himself on Twitter right after the session, saying it seemed odd that Negreanu claimed to have no knowledge about the concept around limping. The strategy allows a player to increase their EV, and lower variance, according to Polk.
Polk continued his pre-flop limping on Day 33, and this pushed Negreanu to tank. In his post-session interview on GGPoker’s YouTube Channel, the six-time WSOP bracelet winner said he had no problem with Polk limping because he had the right to do it, however Negreanu needed to think of a way to counter that style, and that led to him requesting for more time to contemplate on his decisions.
But Negreanu Hated Tanking
Negreanu tanked despite being a critic of the practice. The Canadian has been one of the proponents of the use of a shot clock in poker games to minimize tanking among players. Because of this, his character was put into question by some members of the poker community, including Greg Merson, the winner of the 2020 WSOP Main Event.
But Polk’s followers seem to be divided on the issue. The American poker pro launched a poll on Twitter, asking fans about their opinion on Negreanu’s recent move. More than 41% of the 6,700 respondents said it was “totally fair play”, while over 37% thought it was a “scrummy move”.
Polk and Negreanu’s grudge match continues on January 29.

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