Poker celebrities line up heads-up grudge match in November



Caption: Does Daniel Negreanu have what it takes to defeat No-Limit Hold’em heads-up expert Doug Polk?

Two of the leading personalities in the world of poker have agreed to play heads-up No-Limit Texas Hold’em to resolve a long-running online feud. Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu will face-off on November 1, as Negreanu attempts to put Polk in his place after several years of petty goading from Polk.

Polk has gone increasingly personal with his comments about Negreanu in recent times, even labelling him an “embarrassment to poker” in one of his YouTube podcasts. Some believe that his comments on Negreanu have been merely attention-seeking – a ploy to help him remain relevant in the online poker community. Meanwhile, fans of Daniel Negreanu feel that Polk has just been plain nasty.

Doug Polk has long been considered an online poker guru. He has been blogging about the game for many years now, but announced his retirement from the blogging scene earlier in 2020 following his alienation from the Global Poker Awards. Through the years, he has held affinities with some of the leading poker rooms on the planet, including 888 poker, with whom he streamed the XL Inferno Main Events back in 2017.

Polk’s constant goading of Negreanu on Twitter eventually pays off

It was Polk who recently initiated the discussions about setting up a heads-up contest. He tweeted Negreanu, claiming that he was “sick” of the “run around” allegedly being given to him by the poker champion. He was asking how to get in contact with the Canadian, who goes by the name of “Kid Poker” at the tables. He claimed that Negreanu “goes silent” after tweeting Polk “once in a while”.

The goading was enough to ensure Negreanu would sit up and take notice, responding promptly to him on Twitter. He suggested that Polk had been in discussions with other poker celebrities such as Mori Eskandani and Brent Hanks about this heads-up match, intimating that Negreanu hadn’t been hiding away as much as Polk said publicly. Negreanu’s tweet indicated that the arrangements were only hinging on the “final legal opinion”.

The format of their No-Limit Hold’em heads-up match revealed


Caption: What are the rules of the upcoming heads-up game between Negreanu and Polk?

Negreanu’s response kick-started a seven-strong thread of messages back and forth. It was decided that the duo would go heads-up across two tables. The blinds will be set at $200 and $400 in a heads-up No-Limit Hold’em format. Both players will begin with chip stacks of 100 big blinds, which will automatically top-up whenever either player falls beneath a predetermined threshold.

The contest will be played out across 25,000 hands, although both players will be given the option to “quit” after playing half that number of hands. At the same stage, both players can also agree to increase the small and big blinds if they wish to ramp up the drama. Negreanu has also insisted on a minimum game time of two hours per session. The Canadian is also happy to agree to Polk’s so-called “inspection request” to ensure that Negreanu does not have real-time software at his disposal, such as equity calculators.

Polk has also suggested that the contest be streamed and commentated on by fellow poker professional Kane Kalas, to which Negreanu agreed. However, the Canadian drew the line at revealing his hole cards to viewers. Polk is keen to play at least two, two-hour sessions per day to try to wrap up this heads-up challenge within 100 days. Meanwhile, Negreanu would prefer to play no more than five days a week, at a maximum of 20 hours of play. It’s not yet known which player has got their wish in this regard.

Why has Negreanu finally accepted Doug Polk’s challenge?

The short answer is – to give the fans what they want. Negreanu took to the internet to post a blog about his reasons for taking on Polk heads-up. Negreanu claims that he is the one making the sacrifices given that No-Limit Hold’em heads-up is Polk’s “specialized game”.

In fairness, Negreanu is right. Polk played this format for most of his professional poker career, and he considered himself to be one of the best in the world at it. As for Negreanu, he states in his blog that he has only “six weeks total” time of playing heads-up No-Limit Hold’em poker in his “46 years on the planet”.

Negreanu’s line of attack is that this contest is by no means a “level playing field”, even though the Canadian is one of the most successful poker players of all time, racking up over $42 million in total live earnings and probably much more than that online.

Negreanu said that he is happy to “accept the reality” that the cards are “stacked against” him, but it all depends on which side you’re on. Negreanu’s preference was to play five deep-stacked freeze outs, with both players starting with 250 big blinds and playing 1,000 hands per game, but he has demonstrated a willingness to compromise.

The Las Vegas-based ace acknowledged that his long-running beef with Polk has “created a lot of buzz” in the poker scene, both online and offline. Negreanu, who is also a keen Hearthstone gamer as opposed to other eSports titles like Fortnite, discussed the prospect of a “charity component” being introduced to the heads-up battle, but he claims that Polk is “anti-giving to those in need”, helping to stir the pot nicely as the tension builds.

Wherever it’s played and streamed, you can guarantee that the eyes of the poker community will be fixed firmly on this contest, featuring two of the most outspoken and confident personalities the game has ever seen.