The battle of the tank tops is on. After years of animosity, poker stars Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu are set to begin their high-stakes, heads-up matchup on Nov. 4.
After some expected jockeying on social media the last few weeks, it appears details of the match are now finalized. That includes playing live on PokerGO, which is dubbing the event High Stakes Feud. The action then moves online to WSOP.com.
Adding two of the game’s biggest names to the mix only adds to that momentum
What to expect from this poker throwdown
After reaching agreement, the first day of play is set for the PokerGO Studio at Aria in Las Vegas. The live play element is a new development in the negotiations.
However, Polk and Negreanu are amenable to the addition and participated in a Zoom call recently to finalize details. Both players’ regular choice of clothing (tank tops) was even mentioned.
Just got off a conference call to discuss my upcoming heads up match.
There were 5 people total on the zoom call, and two were wearing tank tops.
Take a wild guess who those two people were?
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) October 22, 2020
— Doug "Truck Driver" Polk (@DougPolkVids) October 22, 2020
When the two men take their seats at the live and virtual poker tables, here’s what to expect:
- Date – Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. (ET) continuing with as many as 3-5 days per week afterward online
- Online site – WSOP.com
- Game – Heads-up No Limit Hold’em
- Stakes – Blinds set at $200/$400
- Number of hands – 200 live and 25,000 total
- Number of tables – 2 (online play)
- Side bet – Unknown so far
- Where to watch – PokerGO app and Youtube, Facebook channels; Polk and Negreanu may be streaming on their own channels as well during online play
Bringing PokerGO and live play to the mix
PokerGO and the live element of the duel only add to the opportunities for fans to follow the action. Beginning the event on the network makes a lot of sense.
With live poker series like the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour not currently running live events, this offers some much-needed live poker programming. PokerGO looks like it plans to expand on the feud aspect in the future as well.
“With Negreanu and Polk’s perennial rivalry and constant conflicts on social media, High Stakes Feud will be a match fans will not want to miss,” PokerGO executive producer Mori Eskandani said in a news release. “The one-on-one match format between these notable poker professionals, along with the possibility of this game lasting multiple months makes the outcome of each day in this series a must-see.”
The network has also found some success in its High Stakes Duel series. That series has featured three matchups between Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari.
The network is also bringing back the popular High Stakes Poker cash game show. The Negreanu-Polk matchup only adds to these efforts.
Polk, Negreanu hit the books to fine-tune skills
With millions of dollars potentially on the line, training has taken center stage for both players. Both have taken to social media to outline some of their heads-up No Limit Hold’em work.
While Polk has mostly been out of poker for a couple years, he remains one of the best in this poker specialty. He’s played at some of the highest stakes and has been back in training over the last few months.
In 2013, Polk won a $20,000 buy-in, 15,000-hand challenge against online poker phenomenon Ben Sulsky. Two years later, Polk was part of a group battling an artificial intelligence bot at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. The challenge involved 20,000 heads-up hands and the humans, including Polk, came out on top.
Polk has been playing plenty of poker lately and making use of online analysis. On Oct 18, he noted on Twitter:
“Was nice spending a day working on my game just studying. Learned some good stuff to implement moving forward. While I think overall the solvers have really hurt online poker, it is nice to be able to use them to learn so effectively.”
For his part, Negreanu has frequently said that he’s an underdog in the competition. That has apparently spurred “Kid Poker” to tackle the heads-up game in depth.
Word is that Negreanu has several coaches working with him. He’s been posting some of his progress on Twitter as well as some polls regarding heads-up play.
“The more I learn about poker, the more I realize how much I don’t know,” he wrote on Oct. 23. “It’s challenging, which makes it fun. Excited to get started and hope to put on a great show.”
Trash talk and social media activity
Certainly there is no love lost between Negreanu and Polk. A live element to the matchup should be some great viewing, albeit possibly pretty tense. As tense as this?
Remember when this animal came with the shirt power dusted it off and then retired 😭☠? Love them both obviously pic.twitter.com/OKIrGYQgOj
— Nick Schulman (@NickSchulman) June 30, 2020
Who knows, but the thought of this matchup actually happening has been a dream come true for many poker fans. That hasn’t always been the case.
Some disagreements over hand histories and real time assistance (RTA) charts seems to have been ironed out. Both players have agreed that these will now be allowed.
True story. You brought up some valid points and we are in agreement
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) October 30, 2020
Other than poker, Negreanu has stuck to Tweeting about politics, sports, and other topics in recent days. Polk has also mixed in plenty of poker and politics, but hasn’t been afraid to mix in some occasional trash talk.
“Lets get this straight, I only retired from poker one time,” he noted on Oct. 12. “I didn’t play a single hand after that. The only reason I am back in the streets is because a complete dolt wants to ship me a million dollars.”
However, Polk did add in some serious analysis for bettors considering putting some money on either side.
“The bottom line is, you aren’t really betting on me/my ability,” Polk Tweeted. “I will be a very good heads-up no limit player, not world class anymore, but very solid. You are betting on how good you think Dnegs can be at an extremely challenging and complicated game.”