The celebrated heads-up “grudge match” between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk has reached its halfway point and Polk is light years ahead. With 12,500 in the rearview, Polk has a jaw-dropping $770,254.08 lead on the Poker Hall of Famer.
It is now up to Negreanu to ponder what happens next. According to the rules of their $200/$400 No-Limit Hold’em, two-table match, whichever player is behind at the halfway mark can choose to call it quits. As 12,500 is half of the 25,000 hand limit, the two men are now at that decision juncture.
And it certainly sounds like Negreanu is considering waving the white flag. Before their session on Monday, the 22nd of the challenge, Negreanu tweeted a promo for it, encouraging people to watch the livestream on YouTube. In the tweet, he added, “If the match continues it would resume Jan 4th.”
So we know that Monday’s competition was it for 2020, giving both players a well-deserved break. But “if” is the word doing the heavy lifting there. That was Negreanu writing the sentence, so the fact that he said “if” means that there is a chance that he decides to end the challenge and take his loss.
There is no sidebet on the line, so Negreanu opting to get out will only be a hit to his pride and the forfeiture of an opportunity to try to win back his losses. Obviously the big question now is: will he or won’t he?
Cut losses or forge ahead
My friend Earl Burton said it well earlier this month when he wrote, “For Negreanu, he has to carefully separate his ego from the financial realities that are going on. No poker player likes to admit that they aren’t the best, even the greenest rookie on the felt. Negreanu has enough experience and background that he knows he is in tough shape at this point in the match.”
And look, Negreanu knows what’s up. He knew, despite being in the Poker Hall of Fame and clearly being one of the best poker players in the world, that he was the underdog in this situation because it was online. Before Doug Polk retired from poker, he was considered one of the greatest online poker players ever. Poker is poker, but online is a different type of game than live, and WSOP.com is Polk’s arena. Negreanu is a live poker master, and while he is likely better than 99-point-something percent of the online poker-playing population, he knows that online is not his forte.
Three-quarters of a million dollars is a ton of money to lose, probably even for Daniel Negreanu. Thus, he might want to try to make some of that back, perhaps even go on the run to end all runs and finish as the winner. But perhaps he realizes he is outclassed here and that it might be time to just get out, if for no other reason than to not have to stress about it.
We shall see. For our entertainment’s sake, we all hope Negreanu and Polk keep going. Despite the results so far, it is fun to see two top players go at it and who knows, maybe we will get to witness an epic comeback.