Daniel Negreanu Takes $117k Lead in First Heads-Up Match Against Doug Polk

  • The first 200 hands were played live at the PokerGO studio in Las Vegas
  • The remainder of the 25,000 hands will be contested on WSOP.com
  • Negreanu and Polk will play two simultaneous tables of $200/$400 NLH
  • Bad blood has been brewing between the two players since 2014
Two fists hitting each other under dramatic sky
After the first 200 hands of their heads-up challenge, Daniel Negreanu leads Doug Polk by $117,000. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Live poker, Negreanu’s wheelhouse

The day many in the poker world were finally waiting for arrived on Wednesday, as Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk finally began their heads-up grudge match. The bulk of the competition is slated to be held online on WSOP.com, but the two men squared off for 200 hands in person at the PokerGO studio in Las Vegas. Negreanu showed off his live poker prowess, finishing the session $117,000 ahead.

worked out as good as it could”

Afterward, Negreanu acknowledged that online poker is Polk’s forte, implying that it was good that he was able to run up the score in person. He felt like he applied his strategy well and it “worked out as good as it could.”

Polk, who has no love lost for Negreanu, was complementary of his opponent. Evaluating his own play, he said: “What can I say? I had some spots to bluff that I thought were good, and they weren’t.”

His father also had something to say:

The next session in the heads-up series will begin on Friday, November 6 at 2:30pm PST.

Heading to WSOP.com

Negreanu and Polk set the parameters of their battle a month ago, agreeing to play two tables of $200/$400 No-Limit Hold’em. Negreanu preferred to play up to about 10,000 hands, but Polk’s preference won out and the two will play to 25,000 hands.

When they reach the halfway point of the competition, the player who is behind can end it. Unlike other heads-up challenges we have seen, there is no side bet at stake, so quitting comes with no punishment except for the pride hit. If the losing player opts to continue, Negreanu and Polk can also decide to increase the stakes.

Chip stacks start at 100 big blinds and are automatically topped off if they drop below that mark.

Negreanu wanted to play on GGPoker, as that is the online poker room for which he is a spokesperson. The decision to go with WSOP.com makes the most sense, however, since both players have residences in Nevada and can therefore both play on the site. GGPoker is not open to players located in the United States.

Challenge a long time coming

The feud between the two men that led up to this challenge began back in 2014 when Negreanu, who is clearly one of the best live poker players of all time, said that if he practiced, he could beat the high stakes online games. Polk, now retired, but at the time one of the world’s best online poker players, said the Poker Hall of Famer was naïve.

Back then, Daniel Negreanu was a PokerStars ambassador and in 2015, publicly defended a rake increase by reasoning that higher rake was good for casual players. He was widely ridiculed for this, especially by Polk. Three years later, Polk rented billboard space outside the Rio during the World Series of Poker, advertising a website called MoreRakeIsBetter.com.

Fast forward to this summer, when Negreanu went on a profanity-laced tirade during a live stream while he was playing in the 2020 WSOP Online because of something a viewer said about his wife. Polk criticized Negreanu and posted a video parody of Negreanu on YouTube. After back-and-forth sniping at each other, poker vlogger Joey Ingram suggested that they square off on the virtual felt.