After three months, 36 sessions, and 25,000 hands, the heads-up grudge match between Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu finally came to an end on February 3. Doug Polk, the founder of Upswing Poker walked away with $1.2 million which comes as no surprise as he dominated most of the sessions.
Highlights of the Match
The pair began their heads-up battle back on November 4, 2020, playing at $200/$400 stakes. Negreanu booked Day #1 of the match, which took place live at the PokerGO Studio at ARIA. Polk backed the truck up during the next session which happened online on WSOP.com, and took the lead.
Polk held on to his position for the next few sessions and was ahead by over $180,000 by the end of Day #4, until Negreanu overtook him on Day #5 with a $206,000 win.
The succeeding few matches were pretty much the same – the lead being passed back and forth between both players, but Polk began to dominate in late November, and as December kicked off, Negreanu’s losses crossed the $500K mark. Since then, the three-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner never relinquished his position, though Negreanu also managed to put a dent on his lead at some point.
In the middle of December, Doug was able to widen the gap even further, with his opponent now in the red by $900K. On Day #26, Negreanu managed to reduce his losses to less than $500K following consecutive wins. Polk bounced back and left Negreanu with a massive $1 million deficit after four sessions.
The Canadian poker pro fought back with a huge victory on Day #31, the biggest win in the match, cutting Polk’s lead to $600K. Polk changed his strategy and the next couple of sessions were marked by drama. Polk was limping more pots, forcing Negreanu to tank on Day #33. Polk won that session but lashed out at his opponent for his frequent tanking.
Polk never looked back since then and continued to run hot. It was clear who was winning the match, but Negreanu proceeded until his fate was finally sealed on Day #35, with Polk taking home $1.2 million.
An Expected Result
Early on, Doug Polk was the favorite to win the match. He was favored 4-1 in the betting market. This was expected, as the American poker pro specializes in heads-up NLHE and is considered one of the best heads-up poker players in the world.
Additionally, Polk has vast experience playing online, compared to Negreanu who is well-known for his accomplishments in the live tournament circuit. This was the same reason why Negreanu was initially hesitant to take part in the challenge, given Polk’s significant edge.
But Negreanu took the “difficult” challenge despite the huge risks, and that earned praises from Polk. Just before the end of the grudge match, Polk called the Poker Hall of Famer a “worthy opponent”, and from there everything has gone cordial between both players, indicating that they’ve finally decided to “bury the hatchet”.
Six-Year Feud Comes To An End
Based on their tweets, Polk and Negreanu interacted via a study session as they prepared for the final match. Both players shared that they talked about hand histories, key spots and situations in the challenge, as well as “war stories”.
Polk and Negreanu’s long dispute started in 2014 when the latter implied that learning the $25/$50 NLHE 6-max online games was easy. Polk was offended, saying Negreanu was insulting the grinders. Over the next six years, the Upswing Poker founder kept on attacking and taunting Negreanu on social media, criticizing some of his controversial opinion on certain subjects, especially those relating to poker. Negreanu on the other hand would just shrug off the insults.
The feud eventually escalated to Polk challenging his long-time rival to a heads-up match in July 2020.
With newfound respect now apparent between both players, the grudge match, one of the biggest and most high-profile heads-up matches in poker history, has become an instrument for them to settle their long-standing dispute once and for all. This was the main purpose of the match in the first place.

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