The first 200 hands of the highly anticipated heads-up grudge match between Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu didn’t look like much of a grudge match at all. It looked like a friendly home game between two longtime friends.
The match itself, which played the first 200 of the 25,000-hand challenge live at the Aria Wednesday evening, was uneventful most of the match, with neither player swinging up or down much more than a buy-in.
During the last 30 hands of the match, however, a well-timed triple barrel bluff by Negreanu and a couple of poorly timed river bluffs from Polk led to Negreanu winning $117,000 on the night. The final 24,800 hands will be played on WSOP.com, which will start match today at 2:30 pm PT.
But the main takeaway from many poker pros on social media was that it was shocking how friendly the two were to one another.
Whoever thought dnegs/polk should be face to face didnt take into consideration that these 2 would clam up and be respectable.
— Melissa Burr (@burrrrrberry) November 5, 2020
Doug and Daniel going to get a beyond burger after this match and sweat the election together huh? Sickening
— jmo (@cuntycakes123) November 5, 2020
I think the last 200 hands should be a cage match who’s with me
— Ryan Fee (@RyanFeePoker) November 5, 2020
There were plenty of others that echoed a similar sentiment. Polk and Negreanu showed up, were very cordial with one another, and had pleasant conversation throughout the match. All that happened despite a very adversarial history both on social media and in live tournaments.
During both the 2017 World Series of Poker One Drop and at the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl, Polk donned a t-shirt with the phrase “More Rake is Better” printed on the front. The shirt was a needle at the then PokerStars-sponsored Negreanu, who defended the site’s rake increase at the time.
During both of those tournaments, the two were seated at the same table and there was visible distaste for one another. There had been a similar history on social media where the two would take shots at one another on Twitter and use their YouTube channels to trade blows as well.
This time was different. They sat down and just played poker without any controversy with Negreanu ending up on top by the end of the night.
I was happy that despite our history, and with all the divisiveness in the country right now, that @DougPolkVids and I could be civil and put on a show that the poker community could both be proud of and enjoy the fireworks.
Online Friday 2:30pm PST
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) November 5, 2020
Negreanu got out to an early lead in the $200-$400 no-limit hold’em match, up about $30,000, but Polk topped off his stack twice and evened out the match, even taking a slight lead. On the 170th hand of the match, Negreanu raised the button with K9 and Polk three-bet with AQ.
Negreanu put in a four-bet to $9,600 and fired all three streets culminating in a $34,000 river shove on a J10364 runout. Polk folded and Negreanu moved into the lead for good.
Two bluffs from Polk got snapped off, which cemented his six-figure hole. On the 193rd hand of the match, Polk raised the button with QJ and Negreanu three-bet 106 from the big blind.