A little more than a month ago, six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu was down nearly $1 million to high-stakes poker pro Doug Polk in their $200-$400 no-limit hold’em heads-up grudge match.
In the nearly five weeks since then, Negreanu trimmed that margin by a sizable amount. At one point, he almost cut it in half thanks to a five-session winning streak between Dec. 28 and Jan. 11.
During that timeframe, the Canadian pro and GGPoker ambassador sliced the lead to just $484,073. In the final session before the halfway mark of the match, where he declined the option to quit, Negreanu won about $40,000. Following the match, the two agreed to take a short break to celebrate the new year.
Negreanu won about $27,000 in their first match of the second half on Jan. 4. He continued the heater by winning $98,579 on Jan. 6, $27,945 on Jan. 8, and $132,648 last Monday.
“Just about a 12 [buy-in] downswing now peak to trough,” tweeted Polk after his most recent loss. “Tough stretch but feel good about how we are playing. On the positive side, we did manage to stack him once today.”
Polk, who has three WSOP bracelets of his own, snapped Negreanu’s winning streak with a six-figure win of his own in their most recent session last Wednesday. He won $119,609 over 600 hands, bringing Polk’s total profit to $603,683 through 15,850 of their 25,000-hand match.
Polk held the lead for most of Wednesday’s action, but Negreanu climbed out of a hole of nearly $200,000 and was nearly even for the session before Polk went on another run late in the match.
“Not over by a long shot but we stopped the bleeding and if we can get a couple more solid wins, [the match] should be hard to lose,” tweeted Polk after his win on Wednesday.
Polk may think that victory is within his reach, but some data suggests that he is running better than Negreanu. Corey Steel, a former PokerStars sponsored pro has been tracking the expected value from all the all-in pots. According to his data, Negreanu is running $243,635.95 below expectation.
3 more all-in hands for our infamous all-in EV spreadsheet that has
RealKidPoker</a> down almost exactly 9 buy-ins now against <a href="https://twitter.com/DougPolkVids?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">DougPolkVids
Now with graphs as well, so check it out! https://t.co/bYVo7DcHtw
Joeingram1</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/jeffplatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">jeffplatt @DanSmithHolla pic.twitter.com/giNtSL41uG
— Corey Steel (@CoreySteel_) January 14, 2021
Before the match started back in November, Polk and Negreanu had a history of public dislike for one another. There was plenty of social media drama between the two. But as the match has progressed, the pair of poker pros seemed to have mended any problems they once had.
Tuesday morning, Polk complimented Negreanu on how much his heads-up strategy has improved in just the few months they have been playing each other.
I gotta say @RealKidPoker is playing just night and day better than at the start of the challenge. I still think I have the edge but I wouldn’t be surprised if its pretty low at this point. Gotta give credit where credit is due.
— Doug “Truck Driver” Polk (@DougPolkVids) January 12, 2021
— Matt Glantz (@MattGlantz) January 12, 2021
In post-game interviews on the GGPoker YouTube channel, Negreanu has been open about the work he has put into his game. At the start of the match, Negreanu was only using two different bet sizes. After a few months of almost exclusively playing heads-up no-limit hold’em, and extensive work with his coaches, he currently uses several different sizes, making it a much tougher strategy for Polk to counter.
Polk and Negreanu will continue their match Friday afternoon. They will continue to play sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until the 25,000 hands are completed.