The Las Vegas, Nevada summer festivities began as they usually do with the Super High Roller Bowl at the end of May. The four-day tournament is arguably the most prestigious tournament outside of the World Series of Poker Main Event.
The $300,000 buy-in tournament attracts one of the toughest fields in poker. It’s a lot of game theory optimal decision making. There isn’t a lot of table chatter. Few antics are on display.
Well, for the most part.
Doug Polk hunting for attention
It didn’t take long for the first feud of the summer to hit the Twitter stream, and it all began on Day 1 at the Super High Roller Bowl.
Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu were both in the 48-person field that was formed by a combination of a lottery and Aria-awarded seats.
There is no love lost between the two players, and when the Day 1 seat draw placed the two players next to each other, the viewing audience was looking forward to fireworks.
Leave it to Polk to deliver. It took about 27 minutes into the broadcast before his shirt came off. Literally. Polk removed his dress shirt to reveal a t-shirt with the slogan “More Rake is Better” on a billboard.
Polk took the opportunity to needle Negreanu on a big stage for the now infamous “more rake is better” debate.
Well, it wasn’t quite fireworks. It was more like the hand-held sparklers from your neighborhood Fourth of July party. Enough to shed some light without the threat of blowing you up.
Negreanu’s usual table-side manner was more reserved compared to his typical chatty demeanor. While he looked slightly annoyed, he wasn’t about to forgo months of hard work to get into a war with Polk.
You might think Polk losing a substantial pot to Negreanu and busting on Day 1 would be the end of this saga.
Oh, but no. Cue the actual billboard.
— PokerNews (@PokerNews) June 1, 2018
You have got to give credit where credit is due. If you are out for attention, backing up a personal petty war with a billboard will do it. It is highly doubtful this is a +EV move, though.
How did the “more rake is better” drama begin?
Back in 2016, Negreanu discussing rake changes at PokerStars, shared situations where a higher rake might be good for the game. “For the game” is the key part of that statement.
When you look at the entirety of his comments, Negreanu clearly discusses that more rake will keep the pros away and give recreational players a better shot of winning. Polk would not let the controversial “more rake is better” mantra die.
Negreanu clarified his comments earlier this year on a podcast, saying, “I’m not pro-rake. That’s absurd.”
And again on his blog:
I do not believe that raising the rake is good for poker. Rake increases take more money out of the game and benefit whoever is collecting the rake. That is my position on rake. Period.
Negreanu may have been taking issue with Polk and his desire to “create drama, attack people and fight people” earlier this year, but he has put it behind him.
Honestly, Polk should do the same. The hand has been played. There is no reason to beat a dead horse.
Negreanu has been studying the game, and his focus is on his goals, which are always lofty. Polk might be needling Negreanu, but Negreanu is not having it.
Doug Polk apologizes for being mean but petty is still on the menu
Not long after Negreanu called Polk out on his podcast, Polk took to his YouTube channel to apologize for being … well, mean.
On the video, Polk said:
Now we have to try and do positive things for the community or move on. I’m sorry for the tone of my videos. I completely stand by things that I’ve said. But I also think there should be more of a direction of trying to create solutions and move forward rather than just hammer the negative aspects that I feel I got a little too focused on.
Apparently, changing the tone around the “more rake is better” debate is not part of the new direction Polk speaks about.
Polk seems to be more focused on his cryptocurrency channel lately. He just seems less committed to poker than in the past. Maybe dredging up an old debate is what he needs to drive more viewers to his poker channel.
According to his Instagram stories, Polk was in Chicago this past weekend. Why is that a big deal? Well, it was the opening weekend of the WSOP, and it included a high roller event. If poker were a priority, surely he would be in Las Vegas, especially for the first $100,000 buy-in tournament (Polk won the $111,111 One Drop event last year).
One thing is for sure: Polk may not be fully committed to poker, but Negreanu is. His second-place finish in the Super High Roller Bowl put an exclamation point on that fact.
Needless to say, Negreanu found both supporters and opponents on Twitter. While he remained focused on the Super High Roller Bowl, he did take to Twitter to share his opinion – again.
Ideally you want pros to play a little higher and leave the lowest levels to beginners and weak players to not feel demoralized. Casinos have used rake historically to maintain that balance.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) May 28, 2018
At the end of the day, the only one partaking in this petty war is Polk.
Polk might be out for attention, but Negreanu is out for the win.
Lead image courtesy of WPT/Flickr