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Poker Pro Daniel Negreanu Puts Dent In Doug Polk's Lead As Grudge Match Hits Halfway Mark

Negreanu Still Down $770K And Has The Option To Quit, Which Doesn't Seem Likely

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After being down nearly seven-figures to Doug Polk, poker legend Daniel Negreanu won several buy-ins over the last few sessions of their high-stakes grudge match to finish the year down slightly more than $770,000 as their battle reaches its halfway point.

Just a few weeks ago, Polk was up more than $957,000 through 9,950 hands heading into their session on Friday, Dec. 11. Up to that point, the general consensus was that Negreanu was running poorly, having been on the wrong end of several coolers, even by Polk’s admission.

But Negreanu won $143,642 over 834 hands in a marathon session to cut Polk’s lead to just over 20 buy-ins. After Negreanu’s victory, the duo took some time off to play the online portion of the $10,000 World Series of Poker main event but came back on Dec. 21 to play three more sessions before the year’s end.

The six-time WSOP bracelet winner won another $117,962 on Dec. 21 to bring the deficit below $700,000, but Polk won nearly all of that back in their penultimate session on Dec. 23. After a break for the holidays, Polk and Negreanu played one final session on Dec. 28, while the WSOP main event domestic final table began.

Negreanu won roughly a buy-in worth about $40,000 in the final session of 2020 before stopping exactly at hand #12,500. Through the halfway point of their 25,000-hand match of $200-$400 heads-up no-limit hold ’em, Polk is leading by $770,254.

“We kind of thought it made sense to stop at the halfway point and readjust,” said Negreanu after the match on the official GGPoker YouTube stream. “See if we want to continue playing or not. It’s kind of a good time because our next match isn’t until Jan. 4 and we can decide will the match continue?”

When the two agreed to terms on the match, they agreed to allow for the losing player to quit if they wanted to. With Negreanu down slightly more than 19 buy-ins, he has the option to stop playing and cut his losses, if he wants.

When asked if he was going to keep going, Negreanu seemed optimistic and made it look like the show would go on.

“If it’s a football game at the half, if you were down 49-0 against a really good team, you might go ‘You know what, guys? Let’s pack it in for the second half. Let’s not get out there. Let’s go have some beers.’ But I don’t think it’s quite that bad,” said Negreanu. “It’s 19-0. He’s up 19 points. Three touchdowns is what I need and that’s essentially what three big winning sessions could look like. If you play longer sessions, you can win 10, 12, 15 buy-ins, especially as the stacks get deeper. I’m going to have to run really hot to win the match, but he did that in the first half. As the match went longer, I started playing better and better. The version of me today is not the same version of me in the first week.”

In a tweet promoting the Upswing Poker stream of the match, Polk also made it seem like the pair would be playing more heads-up poker in 2021.

Despite Negreanu winning a buy-in back in their most recent session, Polk was in the driver’s seat for nearly all of it, winning more than three buy-ins before running a couple of massive bluffs.

With $20,000 in the middle and the board reading ASpade SuitJDiamond Suit9Club Suit7Club Suit4Diamond Suit, Negreanu checked and Polk moved all in for about $60,000 with 8Diamond Suit2Diamond Suit. Negreanu quickly called and showed the nut straight to take one of the biggest pots of the match. He won a few more pots and ended the day in the green.

The bluff was so massive, it caused a little uproar on social media with four-time bracelet winner Shaun Deeb needling Polk that it was all a setup to keep Negreanu playing the second half of the match.

Polk later defended the bluff on social media, claiming that he ran the situations through solvers and found out that the only mistake he made is not bluffing those hands enough.

It’s highly unlikely that Deeb’s accusation is true and also seems highly unlikely that Polk and Negreanu won’t continue their high-stakes battle on Jan. 4.