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Doug Polk, Daniel Negreanu bury hatchet after poker match

Years of bad blood led to a heads-up poker challenge match between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk.

They played for three months, Polk won $1.2 million, and now they say they’re ready to turn the page.

“I feel like we went to war, we went to battle, and in the end, it’s just one of those things where it needed to happen, if you will,” Negreanu said Friday. “And now that we’re past it, I think that chapter’s closed.”

The poker stars played 25,000 hands of heads-up No-limit Hold’em online at stakes of $200-$400 (a $40,000 initial buy-in on each table). The match started Nov. 4 and ended Feb. 3. Though Negreanu had some big winning sessions, Polk held the lead for almost the entire match and ended up with a convincing victory.

The match was a culmination of a yearslong feud. Polk frequently used his popular poker YouTube channel to attack Negreanu for his actions while an ambassador for the online poker site PokerStars, as well as some of his personal behavior.

Polk said Saturday that while he stands by his criticism of Negreanu, he will avoid personal attacks in the future.

“I’m sure down the road there will be things that happen where we don’t see eye to eye,” Polk said, “but I think that we can come to it from a perspective more of mutual respect and keep it a little more within the context of the argument and maybe not let it get so personal.”

Polk, a 31-year-old Henderson resident, is a three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner with more than $9 million in tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database. He was a -556 favorite to win the match on pokershares.com because he made his name in poker by beating the best players in the world in heads-up No-limit Hold’em online.

Negreanu, a 46-year-old Las Vegas resident, is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and a six-time WSOP bracelet winner with $42 million in live tournament earnings, but he did not have much experience in the format.

Polk said Negreanu played well and got much better as the match went along. Negreanu said he’s certainly not happy with losing more than $1 million but that those things happen in high-stakes poker.

“There’s plenty of times I’ve won or lost a million dollars in one day,” he said.

Polk views the match as a sort of swan song for his poker career. He had barely played in the year and a half before the match and doesn’t intend to play much going forward.

“I think a day comes when you play poker where you just stop enjoying it,” he said. “… I try to do things that I feel passionate about and pursue things that I feel passionate about, and poker just doesn’t really do that for me.”

“I’m sure I’ll find my next journey before too long,” he added.

Negreanu is already focused on his next challenge, he hopes. Phil Hellmuth, the all-time leader in WSOP bracelets with 15, criticized Negreanu’s play against Polk, and now Negreanu has challenged Hellmuth to a match.

Hellmuth has indicated he will play; Negreanu isn’t so sure.

“I would love to play Phil Hellmuth,” Negreanu said. “I think he’s chicken, to be honest with you. I think he’s scared. I think he knows he’s going to look bad.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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