Just before the holiday season started, Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk reached the halfway point of their 25,000-hand $200-$400 no-limit hold ’em heads-up grudge match.
Negreanu was down about $770,000 over the first 12,500 hands. Per the pre-match agreement, the player who was losing at that point had the option to quit. On New Year’s Day, the six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner announced that the match would be played to its completion.
It’s Jan 1st 2021 and we have reached the halfway point of the challenge having played 12,500 hands.
As agreed upon in the rules I have the option to quit.
That is not going to happen.
The second half resumes Monday, Jan 4th 2:30pm
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) January 1, 2021
The duo played their first session since Dec. 23 Monday and Negreanu put a small dent in Polk’s lead, winning slightly more than $27,000 over 500 hands and about three hours of play.
With his win, Negreanu is down a total of $743,248 over the 13,000 hands. In a post-game interview on the GGPoker YouTube channel, Negreanu said that he is looking to just chip away at the amount a little at a time.
“With a long-term goal, there are little checkpoints to see whether you’re on track or not,” said Negreanu. “Whether that is weight loss or whatever. I always believed in setting a big goal with smaller ones withing it. So I looked at the situation, down about 19 buy-ins at the haflway point… Let’s say we are playing 500-hand sessions. If I win one buy-in per session, we win. Obviously it’s not going to go like that though.”
Heading into the match, which started at the start of November with 200 hands of live poker, there was speculation over how Negreanu would fare against Polk’s extensive experience with solvers and high-stakes heads-up poker in general.
In many ways, it was being considered as a battle between exploitative play versus game theory optimal. Obviously, as Negreanu was open about working with solvers himself and hiring a team of coaches to help him improve, that narrative faded away. But the Canadian said that he had begun to notice a shift in Polk’s play, which may hint at Polk using some exploitative strategies of his own.
“A lot of the stuff he was doing in the early sessions, like in the first month, he doesn’t really do as much as he did,” said Negreanu. “There was a constant barrage where he was betting one and half [times the pot] on turn and then three times [the size of the pot] on the river. Either A.) he ran into a whole bunch of those spots early or b.) he’s made a conscious decision to use that strategy less often… There’s a couple other subtle things that I can’t share, obviously.”
The two are scheduled to play two more times this week on Wednesday and Friday. It appears as though they will play three times a week until the challenge is completed. Assuming 500-hand sessions, the match will be completed by mid-March.