Most observers would agree that Daniel Negreanu has played better, or least performed better, than expected thus far in his heads-up High Stakes Feud match. Prior to Friday’s session in which Negreanu lost over $205k, he had won 4 out of 5 sessions and was up by as much as $179,363.71 at the end of the session.
Some poker players that have been watching have commented that Negreanu does not appear to be playing as well as Polk. The betting markets are backing that view up, with Negreanu currently at -455 to win the match, roughly an 18% chance, which is around where the odds were to start the match.
Unfortunately, with no hole cards for observers, we don’t know definitively who is playing better — who is getting lucky or who may be playing above or below expectation. That is with the exception of one stat: all-in EV. Since hole cards are displayed during an all-in showdown (where at least one player is all-in) we can determine who has got the best value in these hands so far. So who is getting the short end of the stick?
Daniel Negreanu. According to PokerPro, which has created a Google spreadsheet that is being maintained daily, we know that Negreanu is currently running at a rate of $115,332.14 below his expected value. What does this mean?
In the 15 all-ins so far — which is admittedly a small sample size — that have occurred during the match, Negreanu is down by $115,332.14 more than “he should be,” which means that Negreanu is running bad, at least on all-ins. If the numbers were entirely fair, counting the $26,371.78 actual deficit, Negreanu would be up by $88,960.36 accounting for all-in EV.
— Corey Steel (@CoreySteel_) November 21, 2020
The two biggest all-in hands thus far
To understand all-in EV, it is perhaps best to look at some actual pots which have occurred during the High Stakes Feud match so far.
The largest all-in pot so far was been $105,974.34, which occurred during Session 2. On that hand, as expected, Polk’s QQ held up against Negreanu’s TT. The EV didn’t change much since the hand that was heavily favored won.
Here are the two largest all-in hands that swung the greatest amount from an EV perspective. Both of them are involving hands in which Negreanu *should have* won but didn’t.
Hand #1 – November 11th, Session 4
Both players were dealt the following cards preflop:
The flop: 6h 5s 2h
Negreanu bets on the flop and Doug Polk goes all-in.
The turn: 3h
The river: 7h
Polk rivers the flush to win a $81,812.50 pot. At the time of the all-in, Negreanu had 86.41% equity in the hand, which included 85.66% to win and 1.52% to tie (where he gets half of that equity). You run that same hand a billion times, and Negreanu is on average going to win around $70,694.18 of the pot.
Hand #2 – November 16th, Session 4
The second-largest EV swing occurred a few days later, with the hand also hurting Negreanu.
The flop: 5s Ks Qd
Negreanu flops two pair. Polk bets with the overpaid, Negreanu raises all-in.
The turn: 4d
The river: Kd
Polk rivers the two high two pair with the paired board. Although Negreanu was an underdog preflop, once the flop hit he had 72.93% equity in the hand of the $80,797.50 pot. The river card gave Polk the pot and Negreanu a loss of $58,925.62 in EV.
Is All-In EV relevant?
Although all-in EV is a relevant stat in heads-up poker, it certainly doesn’t explain how a player is playing overall or performing against expected value if we had all hole cards at our disposal.
With that said, those thinking that Negreanu getting lucky is the only reason the match is so close right now, is wrong, at least when we look at all-in EV.
Obviously, that can quickly change as Negreanu has actually won the last five all-ins of the match. After the first six sessions, Negreanu had been suffering even more bad luck, losing $218,928.90 in EV at the time.
Regardless of how you feel about the stat or the play so in general, I think we can all agree that a close match is good for poker. And so far, Negreanu vs Polk has more than delivered.