As the $200/$400 heads-up no-limit hold’em match between Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu got rolling, the latter looked every bit the feisty underdog of his big-screen hero Rocky.
Negreanu had dominated Polk in the opening 200 hands played live in Las Vegas, and he’d followed up with competitive results across the first nine sessions. Less than a buy-in separated the two at that point.
What’s followed has been three sessions of Polk building stack after stack, accumulating more than $500,000 in winnings. The online heads-up specialist once known as arguably the world’s finest in the format looks much the part. With the first landmark — the 12,500-hand halfway mark that gives the trailing player the option to concede — still about 6,000 hands off, Polk has built a lead of $578,417.
About an hour into the day’s play, a six-figure pot went down. Negreanu three-bet then fired a small bet of $2,000, his usual sizing in such cases, on . Polk called and faced a bigger barrel of $9,273 on the . Negreanu shoved for $40K effective on the river and was met with a snap-call as Polk made a flush with . Negreanu could only show and watch the $111K pot go to his opponent.
In a single-raised pot, Negreanu used a large sizing of $1,500 on a flop and Polk made it $3,998. Negreanu called the check-raise and Polk bet nearly pot with $9,140 on the turn. Negreanu peeled again to the river. Polk slammed in the last $25,860 and Negreanu quickly called with , and it had been Polk’s turn to blast off a he showed .
Negreanu then got excellent value with on as Polk paid off three streets after calling a three-bet, including $22K into $30K on the river. He seemed to be heading toward a solid session up about $50K halfway through the day.
Unfortunately for him, things turned from there. First, Polk stacked him on a cooler in a single-raised pot when Negreanu turned the nuts for free on and got a check-raise called before the completed the board. He bet big with $7,978 into $10.6K and Polk jammed for $43K. Negreanu tanked a long time and seemed to consider a massive fold but ultimately paid off the .
Negreanu coolered him right back making the nut flush on a river that gave Polk a straight, but he remained stuck about a buy-in.
They battled for a long time with Polk only increasing his lead just a bit until an unusual hand went down. Polk defended his big blind and check-called $1,500 on and then the checked through. On the river, Polk checked and Negreanu bet pretty big with $3,750. Polk woke up with a massive check-raise to $22,496. Negreanu tank-called again but Polk had him smacked on the flop, showing a slowplayed .
Polk grabbed one more solid pot with a bluffcatch on second pair, and he racked up after a long session with a six-figure win, his second straight.
Hands Played: 852
Results: Doug Polk +$117,624
Full session video
In what passed for a big pot on the day, Polk grabbed an early lead when Negreanu three-bet and continued big for $6,155 on . Polk continued to the and shoved over Negreanu’s small bet of $4,400. Negreanu folded pretty quickly.
Polk then dragged another big pot bet-bet-jamming and seeing Negreanu concede on the river facing the $44K bet into $25K.
The pot of the day went down a bit after that. Polk raised pre and continued for $778 on . Negreanu called and check-called an overbet of $5,115 on the turn. The completed the board and Negreanu checked again. Polk overbet again with $20,462 into $13K and Negreanu called but couldn’t beat .
Negreanu missed an opportunity to try and buy a pot when he called a c-bet from three-bettor Polk on and the arrived. Polk checked and, with $12,819 in the middle, Negreanu went for a big bet of $9,616. Polk called and both players checked the , with Polk showing down .
They quit shortly after, and Polk had won enough small and medium pots to add up the a win of about three buy-ins despite the lack of huge pots, keeping his winning streak alive.
Hands Played: 386
Results: Doug Polk +$120,023
Full session video
On a day that would see the biggest swing thus far, Polk set the tone about half an hour in with a nasty bluffcatch as Negreanu three-bet and continued for $3,200 on a flop. Polk called and both players checked the . On the , Negreanu fired $10,955 into $14,604 and Polk picked him off with , forcing Negreanu to show his .
Polk continued to get the better of things, winning several five-figure pots, and then he dealt a big blow on a cooler. Negreanu three-bet and then checked a flop, calling a small bet of $2,300. The prompted another check and Polk bet just under pot with $12,285. Negreanu called and didn’t hesitate on the river when Polk shoved for $35K. Unfortunately for him, his had run into .
Polk stayed a step ahead when he got the four-bet in pre and continued tiny for $4,280 on the . Negreanu called and both players checked the . On the river, Negreanu crammed for $25,617 into just under $30K. Polk looked him up with and the thin call was a winner against .
They took a break with Negreanu buried almost $200K in less than two hours.
Another stack went to Polk right after when he called a four-bet and opted to lead small for $6,251 on the flop. Negreanu peeled to the turn. Polk shoved for $24K effective and Negreanu called fairly quickly with but was shown and didn’t improve.
Polk continued to run smoking hot, backdooring a nut straight after flopping air and then making top pair on the flop turn into a nut flush on a four-club board to win another $53K pot when Negreanu called a pot-sized river bet.
Then, Polk three-bet and continued small for $2,862 on . Negreanu called then called another $8,883 on the . Polk barreled again for $20,787 on the and Negreanu looked him up but mucked to the as yet another huge pot was shipped to Polk.
Negreanu finally earned a stack when Polk check-raised small on in a four-bet pot and then shoved the turn. Negreanu was ready with and held against .
It was more Polk down the stretch, though. The biggest blow came when Negreanu three-bet and fired $6,273 on and Polk continued to the . Negreanu checked and Polk bet small, $6,899. Negreanu called and then checked the . Polk shoved for just under the $34K pot and Negreanu called instantly with but top pair was no good against for a boat.
Still another stack was shipped to Polk when he cracked queens with eights all in preflop, nailing an eight on the river, and the nightmare session for Negreanu ended in a hole north of $330K.
Hands Played: 684
Results: Doug Polk +$332,178
Full session video
Neither player earned much of an upper hand through the first half hour or so. Negreanu finally shipped a notable pot when he went with his standard tiny bet of $4,400 after four-betting and seeing flop. Polk check-raised to $11,096 but snap-mucked to a shove, enabling Negreanu to open up a little lead.
A similar situation unfolded when Polk three-bet and continued for $4,108, half the pot, on . Negreanu called and the turn was a . Polk bet pretty big with $10,339 but again folded instantly to a shove.
That was the theme through the first hour before break as Negreanu picked up most of the bigger pots to build a lead of around $80K.
The good times continued for “Kid Poker” just shy of two hours in when he three-bet and Polk called, and flopped. Negreanu bet $2,400 and Polk called. On the , Negreanu barreled $9,755. Polk again stuck around, bringing a . Negreanu made a pot-sized shove for $31K and Polk tanked a long time then called with but was no good against .
Polk began righting the ship with a cooler as Negreanu double-barreled a board after he three-bet. Polk raised the turn and they got it in with Negreanu’s dead against .
Negreanu, however, stacked him right back barreling off on after three-betting. Polk looked him up with after a lengthy tank but ran into for a flopped straight.
A huge pot turned the session toward the end. Negreanu continued large for $6,403 after three-betting and seeing flop. Polk called, bringing a . Negreanu fired big again, $16,009. Polk called once more and the completed the board. Negreanu slowed down with a check. Polk jammed it in for $33,356 and Negreanu thought a bit and called with . He’d been run down by though, and Polk claimed a $120K pot.
That turned a medium win for Negreanu into a small one and he called it a session in short order.
Hands Played: 476
Results: Daniel Negreanu +$17,780
Full session video
Polk swept up most of the sizable pots for the first 40 minutes or so and quickly built a lead of about $80,000. When the first big pot was played, it was no surprise given the early play that Polk collected it as well.
Looking to press his advantage, Polk put in a preflop four-bet to $11,333 when they were about $55K deep, and Negreanu called. Negreanu check-called a small sizing of about $4,500 on , bringing the . Polk continued barreling with $10,470 and Negreanu check-shoved for about $39K. Polk was in there instantly with for trips, having sucked out on with a lucky turn. No ace on the river meant a $109K pot and big early lead for Polk.
Simultaneous hero calls by Polk helped Negreanu right the ship.
On one table, Negreanu three-barreled off on a board of in position after calling a three-bet and seeing Polk cede the lead on the flop. Polk looked him up with but his blockers didn’t work out as Negreanu showed . On the other, Negreanu called a four-bet and a tiny c-bet of $4,447 on then faced another small bet of $6,849 on the . Negreanu check-jammed for $31K and Polk called with but was hammered by . The river gave Negreanu improvement to the nut flush that he didn’t need.
A few more five-figure pots without showdown and Negreanu had things squared up again about an hour in.
They were almost 200 big blinds deep when an interesting hand developed after Negreanu three-bet and flopped. Negreanu opted to check and Polk went small with $2,874. Negreanu called and the turn was a . Polk went bigger with $9,687, about two-thirds of the pot. Negreanu again check-called but he sprang to life with $25,378. Polk shoved over the lead for just $54,282 total. Despite the excellent price, Negreanu released.
Then, one of the biggest pots of the match. Negreanu three-bet and sized down with $2,400 on . Polk called, and the turn was the . Negreanu barreled again for $9,873 and Polk called, bringing the . Negreanu bet $24,682, leaving about $18K back. Polk shoved and Negreanu quickly called with but had been rivered by . Polk shipped the $118K pot and took a lead of about $130K once again.
That pot was eclipsed the next time stacks went in. Negreanu three-bet to about $4,400 and Polk called to bring a flop. Negreanu bet $3,200 and Polk called. On the turn, Negreanu bet big with $11,465. Polk called again, and the river was the . Negreanu tripled in another sizable bet of $28,663. That was met with a shove for $73,420. Negreanu needed only a beat before calling with for the backdoor flush, and Polk showed down a pip weaker with to send the $185K pot to “Kid Poker.”
Polk’s advantage was nearly gone when they played another three-bet pot, this time with Polk the aggressor, and flopped. Polk put in a tiny sizing of $1,807 and Negreanu peeled, bringing the . This time, Polk’s bet was nearly the size of the pot, $11,082. Polk followed up when he jammed the river for $31,842 but Negreanu was ready holding for top pair with the nut blocker. Polk was bluffing with .
Negreanu had recovered enough to book a very small win when they quit moments later.
Hands Played: ~600
Results: Daniel Negreanu +~$10,000
Full session video