doug analyzes hands vs negreanu

Doug Polk Explains Five $105,976+ Pots He Played vs Daniel Negreanu

Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu have captivated the poker world with their $200/$400 Heads Up Grudge Match.

Beginning in early November, the foes have squared off for 6,227 hands out of a planned 25,000, with Doug currently leading with $578,417.57 in profit.

In an effort to keep his strategy to himself, Doug has been pretty quiet about specific hands. But that changed Monday, when he released a 45 minute YouTube video discussing five of the biggest pots of the match.

This article will recap the hands and summarize Doug’s analysis for each one.

Watch the video above if you’d prefer to hear the info straight from the man himself. Otherwise, let’s get started.

The Five Biggest Pots from the Video

5. Preflop Cooler (starts at 2:12 in the video)
4. Bad Beat in a 3-Bet Pot (3:00)
3. Big Bluff (13:28)
2. Young Man Speedin’ (24:34)
1. Welcome to Value Town (37:14)

Hand #5: Preflop Cooler ($105,974.34)

Daniel kicked off the action with a standard raise to $1,000 with T T♣. Doug responded with a 3-bet to $4,768 with Q♠ Q♣. Daniel thought for a moment before placing a 4-bet of $10,336. Doug elected to 5-bet all-in for $52,988.42, which Daniel called.

The board ran out J J♠ 3♣ 3 9 and Doug scooped a $105,974.34 pot.

Doug’s Analysis

This hand is the most standard of the five hands we’ll talk about below.

Nothing too crazy happened. When faced with Doug’s 3-bet, Daniel has a pretty easy 4-bet with Pocket Tens. T T♣ makes a good 4-bet for Daniel because it denies equity, doesn’t gain much by trapping, and is ahead of Doug’s 4-bet calling range. 

When faced with the 4-bet, Doug has a standard jam with his Q♠ Q♣. With around 20% of his stack already in the middle, Daniel has to call off with Pocket Tens, though he will often be flipping or behind Doug’s holdings.

Hand #4: Bad Beat in a 3-Bet Pot ($108,467.66)

Flush vs Straight

Doug opened the Button to $928 with 6♠ 4♠. Daniel came over the top with a 3-bet of $4,182.08 with A♠ K♣, which Doug called.

The flop came J♠ T♣ 6 and Daniel checked with his overcards and a gutshot straight draw. Doug chose to fire a bet of $2,341.26 into $8,361.66 with bottom pair and a backdoor flush draw, which Daniel called.

The turn came the Q♠, giving Daniel the nut straight and Doug a flush draw. Daniel checked once again, and Doug went for a near pot-sized bet of $12,285.30 into $13,044.18. Daniel just called with the nuts, and the players saw the river bring the 7♠, making the final board J♠ T♣ 6 Q♠ 7♠.

With only a pot-sized bet behind, Daniel checked his straight over to Doug. Doug jammed all-in for $35,426.44 with his flush. Daniel snap-called and was shown the bad news as the $108,467.66 pot was shipped to Doug

Doug’s Analysis

Preflop, both players played the hand standard. Daniel has an easy 3-bet with AKo and Doug makes the call with 6♠ 4♠, though he says that he can fold this hand some of the time.

On the flop of J♠ T♣ 6, Daniel’s range as the 3-bettor has more nutted hands like JJ and TT. However, Doug’s range as the caller can also have some strong two pairs and strong draws.

Once Daniel checks, Doug believes there is merit to betting and checking. Ultimately, Doug elects to bet using a small size because it forces Daniel to defend with a lot of weak hands. Daniel makes the call which Doug believes is fine, but he could also see merit to Daniel raising at some frequency.

The turn Q♠ is one of the most interesting cards in the deck because even though Daniel is much more likely to have AK, Doug says he likely has more K9 and 98 in his range. Therefore, even though Daniel is more likely to have the nuts, Doug shouldn’t play this spot too cautiously because there are many other weaker holdings in Daniel’s range that he can put pressure on.

Ultimately, Doug decides to bet big to put pressure on some of Daniel’s weaker one-pair hands, while also setting himself up for a potential river shove. Daniel makes the call and the river comes 7♠, giving Doug a flush.

With his flush, Doug says that he has an easy river jam for value. Daniel’s river call was also easy, and Doug finds himself on the right side of a cooler. He believes that Daniel could have potentially bet the flop or check-raised the flop turn, but as played it was just a massive cooler.

Note: Want to know how to play every hand in every common preflop situation? Get instant access to extensive preflop charts and lessons (for cash games and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Lock your seat now!

The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of five sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab.

Hand #3: Big Bluff ($111,457.84)

Doug opened to $928 with Q 6 and Daniel 3-bet to $4,182.08 with J♣ 4♣. Doug made the call and, with $8,361.66 in the pot, the players saw a flop of K 2 2♠. Daniel continued with a bet of $2,000 with jack-high and Doug made the call with his flush draw.

The turn brought the A♣ and Daniel fired a bet of $9,273.12 into $12,361.66. Doug made the call again with his flush draw.

The river came the 4 making the final board K 2 2♠ A♣ 4 with $30,907.90 in the pot. Daniel chose to put Doug all-in for his remaining $40,274.97. Doug made the snap-call with his flush and took down the $111,457.84 pot.

Doug’s Analysis

With Q 6, Doug believes that his preflop play is standard. He could sometimes elect to 4-bet, but calling the 3-bet is also a winning play.

The flop of K 2 2♠ is better for Daniel’s range, so his small flop bet makes sense because he will want to bet this board at a high frequency. Faced with the bet, Doug believes he could raise some of the time, but because the board is better for the 3-bettor, he thinks he will mostly be calling.

In Doug’s opinion, the most surprising play in this hand was Daniel’s large turn bet. Even though the A♣ is likely better for Daniel’s range, going for three streets of value with just an Ace may be a little dicey with kickers being irrelevant on the paired board.

He believes that if Daniel uses a big sizing, his value range should be more polarized, consisting of very strong hands like AK, A2s, K2s, etc, while checking the majority of his range.

Doug thinks that Daniel’s hand selection of J♣ 4♣ was too ambitious. There are better bluffing candidates that either have better equity, no showdown value, and/or block Doug’s strong hands. But as played, Doug has a standard turn call with queen-high and a flush draw.

Even though Doug disagrees with Negreanu’s turn play, he thinks that the river bluff is fine as long as he isn’t doing this with all of his turn bluffs. But despite Doug’s approval of the jam, Doug finds himself with an easy call with his rivered flush.

Hand #2: Young Man Speedin’ ($129,108.68)

The hand began with Doug opening to $948 with Q J♠. Daniel 3-bet to around $4,300 with A Q and Doug put in a 4-bet to $12,876. DNegs made the call and, with $25,749.50 in the middle, the rivals saw a flop of A♠ 8♠ 4♣. 

Daniel check and Doug fired a small c-bet of $5,149.90, which Daniel called. The turn came A making the board A♠ 8♠ 4♣ A with $36,049.30 in the pot. Daniel checked and Doug fired again for $11,896, which Daniel called.

The river brought the 4♠, double pairing the board (A♠ 8♠ 4♣ A 4♠). With a pot size of $59,841.84, Daniel checked once again. Doug decided to triple barrel bluff, putting Daniel all-in for his last $34,633.42. Daniel quickly called with his full house and scooped a $129,108.68 pot.

Doug’s Analysis

Facing with Daniel’s 3-bet, Doug believes that he has a choice with Q J♠. He says that his 4-bet is completely fine, as long as he does so only some of the time. He think that Daniel’s 4-bet calling range will overall be pretty strong.

On the flop of A♠ 8♠ 4♣, Doug will want to be frequently betting due to his range advantage, but sometimes checking hands like KK and A 5 that would benefit more from pot control. He elects to bet with a small size, which is the standard in 4-bet pots. Daniel’s call is good as he as at the top of his range.

On the turn A, things start to get interesting as it is much less likely that Daniel has an Ace. Doug starts by asking himself what he would want to do with his strongest hands like AK and AQ. He concludes that he would want to bet flop, bet the turn, and jam the river with these hands. Because of this, he has to take the same with his bluffs in order to remain balanced.

He uses a smaller turn size that will allow him to bet some thin hands for value like TT. When choosing a bluffs, Doug likes Q J♠ because it has a spade and blocks Daniel from having strong hands like AQ and AJ that would often call a 4-bet.

On the 4♠ river, Doug has interesting decision. Doug has to bluff with some hands, and he likes this particular combo because it blocks K♠ J♠ as well as full houses like AQ and AJ. Unfortunately for Doug, though, Daniel did have it. As Doug says in the video:

Sometimes you run into the fucking nuts.

Hand #1: Welcome to Value Town ($130,301.10)

Value Town

Daniel kicked off the action by opening the Button to $1,000 with 9♣ 7♣. Doug responded by putting in a $3,768 3-bet with A A and Daniel made the call.

The flop came 8 8♠ 5 and Doug continued the aggression with a c-bet of $3,766.75 into the pot of $7,533.50. Daniel made the call and the turn brought the 8, making the board 8 8♠ 5 8. Doug fired off a pot-sized bet of $15,069.50 and Daniel called with his inside straight draw.

The river came 9 which made the final board 8 8♠ 5 8 9♦. With $45,206 already in the pot, Doug put Daniel all-in for his remaining $42,547.55. Daniel used most of his time bank before making the call, shipping Doug a pot worth $130,301.10

Doug’s Analysis

The biggest pot of the challenge to date was pretty standard before the flop. Doug had an easy 3-bet with A A, and Daniel had a clear call with 9♣ 7♣.

On a paired flop like 8 8♠ 5, Doug could check or bet, but he elects to bet and Daniel makes a good call with his straight draw.

The turn 8is where things start to get interesting. If Doug ever wanted to trap, then AA is the best to trap with because it is the least vulnerable overpair. But Doug decides to bet using a big size because it allows him bluff more and also win stacks with his value hands.

Although it may seem like Daniel’s call with 9♣ 7♣ is too loose, Doug actually believes it makes a better call than it seems at first glance. Doug says that the reason for this is because in order to play balanced, Daniel needs some bluff-jams on the river when Doug checks to him. 9♣ 7♣ makes sense because it doesn’t block flush draws and it has no showdown value.

That said, Daniel should likely not call with this hand every time. If he is calling it every time, that is likely a mistake. A mixed strategy of calling sometimes and folding others is the best approach with his hand on the turn.

After getting called by Daniel on the turn, Doug has an easy jam. He only loses to an 8 or 99, both of which aren’t particularly likely. 

Wrapping Up

I don’t think I’m only speaking for myself when I say it’s great to see Doug back playing poker and making content. For his sake, hopefully his formula of playing good while running good keeps up.

To always be up-to-date with the challenge, visit our tracking page for the rules, FAQs and results of each session.

Good luck at the tables this week!

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Patrick Harvey

Patrick Harvey

Graduate student trying to make money in poker so that I don't end up having to drive Knish's truck.

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