The excitement of heads up poker: Daniel Negreanu vs Doug Polk Challenge

Whether it’s the final two players in a tournament or a deep-stacked cash game, heads up poker can provide entertainment like no other. Playing against the same opponent every hand really puts the emphasis on playing the player as well as the cards in your hands.

Daniel Negreanu vs Doug Polk

A good online poker website will usually host a range of different variants and game types, including Texas hold’em and sit & go tournaments. And one of the most popular game styles is heads up poker, which forces you to play more hands, as both players are constantly in the blinds.  Heads up poker has also been used as a method to settle grudges between two players. One high profile event at the moment is the ongoing heads up competition between pro poker players Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk. The two players have had an ongoing feud for some time, and they decided to put their money where their mouths are by playing a long-running series of heads up poker sessions.

The details

The challenge is taking place over numerous sessions and both players have agreed to a set of rules regarding the structure of the competition. Both players have agreed to play a total of 25,000 hands. However, the player who is losing at the halfway point (after 12,500 hands) has the option to back out. The first 200 hands were played live at the table, but the remainder of the hands will be played online. The stakes are set at $200/$400 with two tables being played at the same time. If either player is to drop below the 100 big blind starting stack, they will be auto reloaded back to $40,000.


Daniel Negreanu has been a household name on the live poker scene for over two decades, with his first WSOP bracelet win coming back in 1998. He has since gone on to win multiple competitions and is ranked 3rd on the all-time money list. Daniel is one of the most recognisable and respected players in the live game but his opponent Doug is thought to have the upper hand.

Doug Polk is the less experienced of the two players. That said, he is a highly-established online pro who specialises in heads up poker. He’s also well known for winning the One Drop High Roller event back in 2017. Doug was also one of the first players to really establish themselves on streaming platforms, building a hugely successful YouTube channel.

The two players have had numerous confrontations over the years, with altercations on Twitter being common. Back in July of 2020, Doug offered Daniel out with the challenge of playing a high stakes heads up match. Daniel accepted the challenge and the two negotiated terms before setting a start date of November 4th 2020.

The Competition so far

The initial 200 hands were played live in person, with Daniel getting the better of Doug and finishing the first session $116k in profit. Doug then came back strong during the first set of online sessions, profiting in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th sessions. Daniel, however, retook the lead on day five, with the current standings placing Negreanu in the lead with +$25k profit as of 15th November 2020.

There is still a long way to go, with only 1737 hands played so far and the halfway point set at 12,500 hands – there is still a lot of heads up action to come. The attention brought by this event has shown how exciting heads up poker can be. However, it always helps when tension between the two players is involved.

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