Daniel Negreanu has won five out of the last six sessions of the High Stakes Feud with Doug Polk, including an impressive win on Wednesday. During this upswing — no pun intended — Negreanu has chisseled away at Doug Polk’s lead by over $300,000 to $644,668 as of Thursday morning.
But despite that winning streak, the betting public apparently still doesn’t seem to be impressed.
At the start of the match, PokerShares gave Polk around an 80% chance of winning against Negreanu. Some in the poker community jumped on those numbers including Bill Perkins, Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth, who believed that Negreanu’s prowess as a poker player and being a quick learner made Negreanu a good bet.
Negreanu’s significant struggles in the first half of the match seemed to justify the pre-match line, but when looking at factors such as known luck and Negreanu’s rapid improvement, it leads to consider that the odds were too harsh and that current lines could still underestimate Negreanu right now.
Odds continue to move in Polk’s favor
PokerShares, which offers a selection of ongoing markets on the High Stakes Feud match, still has Negreanu has a major underdog through 24 sessions.
As of Thursday morning, bettors who wish to bet on Negreanu to win the entire match can currently get odds of +1000. This means that if you think Negreanu has it in him to come back, you can make a bet of $100 for the chance to win a total of $1100.
For those that have been following political markets over the last few weeks since the election, and even in recent days, this was/is roughly the odds given to President Donald Trump to still win the 2020 election.
On the flip side, if you want to bet on Doug Polk after the Day 24 session, you will be getting -2000. The two lines effectively give Doug Polk a 93% chance of winning.
This has moved down from a high of around 96%, which was around the time that Negreanu was down by nearly $1 million and when some believed it was likely that Negreanu would give up after 12,500 hands.
The bottom line: The betting market has not really moved significantly from Negreanu’s lowest point. And does Negreanu realistically have the same odds of winning as Trump?
The case for Negreanu to rally
Even those that believe that Negreanu still could come back from the challenge acknowledge that Negreanu has to get luck on his side. He also needs to play extremely well.
Negreanu has not been shy to say that he lacks the skill of a heads-up No Limit Hold’em player compared to Doug Polk, especially when the match began.
But by many accounts, Negreanu has improved significantly since he threw himself into the fire that is the High Stakes Feud. Negreanu apparently has some great mentors and coaches working with him and his drive to improve his game is unquestioned.
The same could obviously be said of Polk, who was effectively retired from the game for a couple of years before resuming play. In addition, Polk is extremely gifted at self-reflection and plugging leaks, proving that by making a significant living off improving his skill level and the skill level of his students.
On the “luck” discussion, Negreanu fans — and Negreanu himself — is quick to note that he is $372k below expectations on all-ins, which is really the only concrete measure of luck that we have. If all-in EV was exactly equal to their equity share at the time of the all-in, that would mean that Polk would “only” be up by less than $300k. If Polk has the same “bad luck” as Negreanu, Kid Poker is actually ahead.
Of course, future results over the next 12,000 hands don’t care about what has happened thus far, but it at least indicates that Negreanu hasn’t been playing as bad as the numbers might suggest.
With that said, I’m not suggesting that Negreanu is an excellent value bet, but when considering consistently improved skills from Negreanu and some possible help from the variance gods, I think there is a much better case to bet Negreanu at +1000 than Polk at -2000.