After 91 days and 25,000 hands of high stakes heads-up No Limit Hold’em, the grudge match between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk finished on Wednesday night with Polk adding $255,722 to his total earnings to end up a $1.2 million winner.
Session: +$255,722 over 1718 hands
Total: +$1,200,000 over 25000 hands
We won guys. We did it.
— Doug Polk (@DougPolkVids) February 4, 2021
As soon as the challenge ended, Polk spoke on his YouTube channel with Jamie Kerstetter and Nick Schulman about the work he put into to get ready to play after having walked away from the game a year ago.
“I’m very happy that I spent so much time preparing and I felt it really ended up helping me tremendously and that I got to execute at such a high level over such a long period of time,” Polk said after his win. “It’s just so crazy that the last six months have been like this, considering where I was at in my life six months prior, which was totally done with poker, hadn’t played a hand in over a year, wasn’t planning on it.”
When Wednesday’s session began, the pair were 1,718 hands from the pre-determined finish line of 25,000 hands and there were no guarantees that they would play enough to finish the challenge. The action went on for 5.5 hours with Negreanu up more than $180,000 at one point. Polk battled back to even before piling up big pot after big pot as the 25,000 hand mark approached.
In his own post-game interview on GGPoker.tv, Negreanu gave Polk full credit for the win while still lamenting being on the wrong side of luck in some spots.
“He deserved it. He played well. I thought he made really good adjustments. I thought he improved as the match went on as well. Thought he got better and better and sharper, in a lot of different lines,” Negreanu said. “I was definitely unfortunate in the match. Here’s the thing, I needed to actually run above expectation to win the match. That’s what needed to happen and I don’t think that happened, obviously.”
The animosity between Polk and Negreanu which ultimately led to the two battling it out on the felt seemed to have evaporated by the time the pair sat down for the final session. Polk, who made the More Rake is Better meme popular at Negreanu’s expense, offered his opponent praise for how his game improved over the 25,000 hands.
“Negreanu did, by far and away, just an honest assessment, he did a really impressive fucking job with a lot of the stuff that he did. I did not think he would play this well, at all,” Polk said. “I was expecting way more of what things were like at the start, when he was doing some stuff that was pretty bad. By the end, he was doing so many sharp things; sizes, strategies, frequencies. In most of the spots it was hard to bluff him.”
The match, dubbed the High Stakes Feud, began on November 4 with 200 hands played out live on PokerGO from the PokerGO studio with Negreanu winning $116,500. Of the 35 sessions that followed, all played online, Polk was a winner in 19 of them. His biggest win came on November 28 when he banked $332,178.00 from 684 hands of play. That session was the fourth consecutive that Polk booked win, a streak which saw him earn $775,347.12. He was a six-figure winner in 15 of the 35 online sessions.
Negreanu actually had the single biggest winning session on January 22 when he won $390,03 in 1,046 hands. That win came after Polk had surpassed $1 million in earnings for the first time. Negreanu was also the only player to win five sessions in row when he earned $321,177 from December 28 to January 11 and it came at the tail end of a streak that saw him as the net winner in seven of eight sessions.
Despite obvious interest from poker fans for a rematch between the two, Polk has stated he has no interest in returning to the felt and his win over Negreanu is most likely his swan song. For his part, Negreanu has indicated he’d consider playing Polk again but is also seeking out other challengers to play.