In late July, Doug Polk challenged Daniel Negreanu to a heads-up match to settle their long-standing feud once and for all. The idea thrilled the entire poker community, with some prominent names pushing for it to happen. While Negreanu was initially hesitant, he eventually accepted the challenge, and said he’s willing to face Polk in what had the potential to become one of the greatest HU matches in poker history.
The grudge match commenced on November 4 and poker players and fans from around the world are closing following the action. Polk is a strong favorite to win the match as he is widely considered one of the best heads-up poker players of all time. Negreanu admitted right from the start that he’s in an unfavorable position, considering that HU NLHE is Polk’s specialty, but some well-known pros, including Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth, are betting on the Canadian poker pro to emerge as the winner.
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Negreanu started strong, taking down the first session involving 200 hands which took place live at the PokerGO Studio at Aria. The pair have played four sessions thus far, equivalent to a total of 1,372 hands, with the last three sessions held at the virtual felts. Polk conquered the 2nd & 3rd bouts to gain $268,031 in profit, but Negreanu fought back during the 4th session on Wednesday, trimming Polk’s lead down to $180,865.
Both players agreed to compete in at least 12,500 hands of $200/$400 NLH, with the losing player having the option to extend the match to 25,000 hands. The battle is still very much in its infancy, meaning we cannot predict just yet who is going to win the match, but these are the things we’ve learned so far from the completed sessions:
Polk Benefitting from Large Bet Sizes
Those who are following the match would know that Polk has been successful so far with his large bet sizes. Majority of the pots that he won involved large bets on the river, and most of the time, Negreanu would fold. While it’s highly likely that Polk held strong hands during the times that he over-bet the pot, it’s also possible that the American poker pro was just bluffing, and clearly the strategy is proving beneficial for him.
Negreanu only won one major pot during the first two sessions, and even in that specific pot, Polk adopted a similar approach – he held third pair on a wet board and then went on to check raise on the river, but the Canadian called with two-pair.
Luck Favoring Polk
Through the 1,372 completed hands, Negreanu never really won any remarkable pot, except for one session where his pocket kings held up against Polk’s pocket jacks in an all-in pre-flop battle, giving him his first massive pot since the match moved online. Polk on the other hand has been conquering huge pots, and that’s partly because of his lucky run-outs.
Negreanu Making Big Bluffs Too
Negreanu may have ended up being manipulated by Polk’s check raises, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of firing big bluffs too. At some point through the 1,372 hands, it’s likely that the former all-time money list leader also pulled off some massive bluffs, making a stab at major pots, though Polk was smart enough to counter his betting habits, if the initial results of the match are any indication. Polk shouldn’t be too complacent though, as he might end up taking a dose of his own medicine.
Rivals Remain Cordial
When Negreanu and Polk finally met in person at Aria during the first session, the poker community was very keen to see how the pair would react upon playing against each other face to face. Thankfully, both players decided to just focus on the match, maintain civility, and not carry their personal feud over to the tables. Since the match began, they’ve remained cordial which has disappointed a few poker fans who expected some fireworks as both players have fiery personalities which usually comes out on social media.

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