With Doug Polk’s heads-up match with Daniel Negreanu in full swing and taking the poker world by storm, it’s frankly hard to imagine a time when the two won’t be playing.
Doug Polk was the type of poker player seemingly born for these heads up matches. He represents the new-school GTO type of poker player, he is polarizing, he’s funny and he can get people hyped up. He’s also had a less-than-rosy history with some of poker’s well-known players.
He may be “retired” and was apparently sick of poker before doing so, but he undoubtedly loves the attention and will not shy away from a good bet when he sees one. Plus, he may be enjoying the poker itself more than he thought he would.
It’s got us thinking about other heads-up matches that Doug Polk could take part in that the poker world would love to see. We break down some of the top names that come up in this conversation with some back of the napkin odds (please, don’t make me bet on these lines).
Polk even alluded to some of the names in a post-match interview on the GG Poker YouTube channel last week, which you can watch below. Interesting, he said he “couldn’t think of a match that would be as high profile as this one,” but left open the possibility of playing more.
Dan “The Instagram King” Bilzerian apparently doesn’t play as much poker these days, but he expressed interest in a heads-up match with Polk during a chat with a player on GG Poker as recently as earlier this month. Like Daniel Negreanu, Polk has a history of back and forth with Bilzerian and has previously brought up the possibility of playing heads-up.
Both seem willing but the 10:1 odds that Bilzerian has apparently proposed have so far apparently only got a laugh from Polk. “The initial demands he made were outrageous…maybe down the road, possibly, but if we do it’s going to have to be on some more neutral footing.”
There is no question this match would be extremely good for poker — perhaps more than any other player on this list — given Bilzerians huge social media following that either hangs by his every move or hate-follows him.
Bilzerian would likely admit that Polk is a better player than him, but would he want to deal with the scrutiny that would likely come with his play over thousands of hands? Probably not. But if Polk were to eventually agree to the 10:1 odds that Bilzerian has proposed or meet somewhere in the middle, it would be quite the spectacle, especially in a live setting.
Chances of happening: 10:1
Polk vs Phil Hellmuth
15-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth is another heads-up challenge match that would absolutely grip the poker world, probably in line with the current heads-up match with Negreanu. In Hellmuth, you have a very popular poker player with the general population and somebody that can really drum up some extra interest for the match.
He recently participated in a High takes Duel match with Antonio Esfandiari that got a lot of attention, which even made some detractors appreciate Hellmuth’s prowess as a poker player during a time when some feel the game has passed him buy.
Phil Hellmuth represents a bit of the old school versus the new GTO strategy in today’s game, so there is that natural conflict that could make things very interesting. Still, they don’t have the bitter history of Negreanu and Polk, so the match perhaps wouldn’t be as drama-filled. With that said, this is a match that the poker world absolutely wants to happen. Add cameras or webcams and you have the makings of a match for the ages.
They previously played heads-up during the King of the Hill a few years back so this match is certainly possible.
Chances of happening: 8:1
Polk vs Mike Postle
This match-up match would never happen, right? Yes, almost certainly, but then again it is 2020 after all.
Doug Polk was a key figure, along with Joey Ingram, in highlighting Mike Postle’s involvement in the Stones Live cheating scandal. Mike Postle hates Doug Polk and Doug Polk hates Mike Postle, even more than Negreanu and Polk (who have actually become fairly civil during their challenge).
Over a year ago, Polk comments suggested this match had no chance of success, but that was before Polk made his epic comeback.
— Doug “Truck Driver” Polk (@DougPolkVids) October 6, 2019
Doug Polk would absolutely accept this match in a heartbeat. We can dream about it happening, but it’s more likely Postle is perfectly content staying out of the limelight and avoiding the subsequent controversy that would ensue from playing in the biggest heads-up challenge of the decade.
Chances of happening: 1000:1
Polk vs Phil Ivey
Phil Ivey is back. He is playing in the new High Stakes Poker set to return next month. He says the “Fire is back. I’m a reborn poker player.” So the chances of Ivey playing Polk would be far greater than a year ago with Polk retired and Ivey with his focus elsewhere.
The match would be very compelling to follow but probably would not have the edge to it that Hellmuth, Negreanu or Bilzerian given that Ivey has seemed immune to Polk’s trolling and is somebody that Polk apparently genuinely respects. Plus, Ivey isn’t the type to show up to Rio donning a Roman Emperor costume to add to the spectacle.
Would Ivey even be interested, despite making a comeback and appearing on High Stakes Poker? Perhaps, but the prospect of Ivey playing heads-up against somebody that has been labeled by some old-school pros as an “internet troll” doesn’t seem to be a very Phil Ivey thing to do.
Chances of happening: 25:1
Polk vs Bill Perkins
Bill Perkins wants to die with zero, so would this match accelerate that? Bill Perkins has the bankroll to participate in a heads-up match with Polk and played with Polk while he trained for his match with Negreanu.
“I think he still wants to battle sometime,” said Polk during an interview with GG Poker. Plus Perkins is technically still involved in a heads-up challenge with Phil Galfond (where the pair played part of their match while using webcams).
As one of the nicest guys in poker, there isn’t a lot of bad blood between Perkins and Polk, although the pair haven’t been shy about mixing it up on Twitter of late and “shit-talking” to Polk. This match would probably have a bit of the high-roller businessman versus new school savant feel to it.
Maybe it wouldn’t generate the buzz of a Negreanu, Polk or Bilzerian, but it still a match that many poker fans would like to see and realistically, has the best chance of actually occurring.
Chances of happening: 2:1
Honorable mentions: Antonio Esfandiari, Doyle Brunson, Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond, Luke Schwartz
Are more on the way?
Between heads-up matches in Negreanu vs Polk, the Galfond Challenge and High Stakes Duel, this hardly feels like it will be the end of high-profile heads-up matches. For his part, when Doug Polk was asked about playing some of the big names in poker, Doug Polk did not exactly rule it out.
“Frankly, I think I am willing to play anyone on that list heads-up in a future challenge. I’ve already spent the time to relearn it. Fuck it, if anybody wants some heads-up action, I’m here.”