Negreanu vs Polk - The Road Thus Far

The Feud

It's one of the hottest topics in poker right now – the high-stakes feud between 6-time WSOP bracelet-winner Daniel Negreanu, and 3-time bracelet winner and co-founder of Upswing Poker Doug Polk.

It all started back in 2014, when Polk took exception to Negreanu - who is primarily known as a live player - claiming that it would be trivial to beat $25/50 NL on Pokerstars with just 2 weeks of preparation. From there it snowballed into a bit of a nasty feud, with Polk referring to Negreanu as "delusional", and Negreanu dismissing Polk as a "typical online troll".

Fast forward to 2020, and, thanks in part to some sideline cheerleaders, the constant not-so-friendly banter has finally culminated in one of the most anticipated matches in years.

The Format

After some back-and-forth negotiation, the two players finally agreed to play 25k hands of $200/400 NLHE on the state-licensed online site, WSOP Nevada. At the halfway mark, whichever player is losing may opt-out of the remaining hands - but if they decline to stop playing, they must play out the remainder of the match.

The first match was played live, and they will sprinkle in a few more live sessions as the match goes on. At a minimum they log three 2-hour sessions per week, but occasionally, if both players are willing, they extend the play time or squeeze in an extra day.

The Favorite

At the start of the match, Doug Polk, who at one time was considered the best HU player in the world, was widely considered to be the favorite.  Meanwhile, Negreanu is one of the most successful celebrities of the poker world - currently ranked third on the all-time money list - but isn't really known as a HU player. At the same time, Polk had retired from the game several years prior, and it was uncertain how quickly or how well he could return to form.

At the start of the match, Daniel was more than a 5-1 dog to win the match, according to the odds listed on Pokershares.

The Fight

Currently, the pair have played just under 6300 hands in 13 sessions, so they're just over a quarter of the way through the match.

At first, Daniel seemed to be holding his own. His style is a bit more simplified than Doug's; for instance, Daniel almost exclusively uses two bet-sizes (20% and 75% of the pot) while Doug has been seen utilizing a much wider range of sizings, including a couple of wacky sizes that are no doubt designed to make Daniel's off-the-table study a bit more aggravating. After 10 sessions, Daniel was actually up a couple of buy-ins.

However, in session 12, after a couple of modest wins to take the lead, Doug broke things wide open in what he called a "dream-session", where everything just went right, winning over $300k (7.5 buy-ins) on the day. Now, after 6227 hands, Doug is up almost $600k, and really seems to be having his way with Daniel.

The match is definitely far from over, but the odds of Daniel winning have dropped to 13.5-1 on Pokershares - a reflection on how things seem to be progressing.

In any case, the match is a great thing for the community, and we're all excited to see how it turns out.