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Gossip Column: Negreanu-Polk Grudge Match Scheduled to Start November 4, Dwan Teases Return of High Stakes Poker & More

Daniel Negreanu, Doug Polk, Tom Dwan & Jonathan Duhamel - Gossip Column
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  • Attreyee K. Ganguly October 30, 2020
  • 5 Minutes Read

The start date of the much-talked-about ‘Grudge Match’ between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk has been shifted from November 1 to 4, with many of the previously undecided details finally getting ironed out. As expected, the upcoming battle has attracted a lot of betting interest with high-profile players like Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth backing Negreanu.

The elusive high stakes poker pro Tom Dwan is back, and this time he tweeted images of the return of the fan-favorite poker show, “High Stakes Poker.”

Former WSOP Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel is fighting the Canadian tax authorities who expect him to cough up more than CA$1.21 Million in taxes. Duhamel is claiming that he plays poker recreationally, and therefore, his winnings fall under gambling winnings, which in Canada are tax-free.

Meanwhile, the controversy-mired Midway Poker Tour (MPT) organizers have now disappeared after failing to pay many players.


Negreanu vs. Polk: Grudge Match Scheduled to Start on November 4

Arch-rivals Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk’s much-awaited ‘Grudge Match’ was slated to kick-off on November 1. However, it has not been easy for the multiple WSOP bracelet winners to agree on several points. After navigating through numerous taunts and counter-taunts, the duel has a new start date, November 4.

Daniel Negreanu & Doug Polk
Daniel Negreanu & Doug Polk


At present, the basic rules of the match-up are as follows:

> The match will be played at $200/$400 on two tables at a time.

> The match will be almost entirely be played on WSOP.com (first 200 hands to be played live)

> Officially, the match will be 12,500 hands, with a 12,500-hand extension option for the losing player, which basically means that it will be a 25,000-hand match, with an opportunity for the losing player to buy out at the halfway point.

> The players will show hole cards for a portion of the match at the PokerGo studio, which will broadcast some parts of the game via its paid-subscription service.

Polk also confirmed that “The first 200 hands are going to be live, for free, on PokerGo.”

The duo seemed to have agreed to allow notes and preflop charts for the match.

On a separate note, Kane Kalas will commentate the PokerGo-aired parts of the match, while Polk has announced that he plans to find a way to stream some of the games for the poker community.

The ‘Grudge Match’ has steadily gained momentum among the poker community, and many players have been placing bets on who they think will emerge victorious. While it’s still early days to determine who will win. However, as of October 26, PokerShares had Polk as a firm favorite.

Given Polk’s expertise in the high stakes NLH heads-up format, he is no doubt the favorite. Still, the odds that peg Negreanu as an over 4:1 underdog to Polk seemed lopsided to many top pros. Among the players who have already placed their bets is bracelet winner Mike’ The Mouth’ Matusow. In fact, Matusow is backing Negreanu for what he claims to be half of his entire bankroll.

Both Polk and Negreanu reacted to Matusow’s bet.

But Matusow isn’t the only one betting on Negreanu; the GGPoker Ambassador also found a supporter in Phil Hellmuth.

Hellmuth is among the legion of poker superstars who believe that Polk’s odds being a 4-to-1 favorite was relatively high but still offered a $20,000 wager at the odds.

Negreanu wants in on the betting action as well. However, he is looking for someone to lay him at 5:1 for $100K.

There is no doubt that the deck is stacked against Negreanu. He’s one of the most accomplished live MTT players in history, with more than $43 million in earnings over his career. On the other hand, Polk is one of the best to have ever grind the HU NLH cash games online. For Negreanu to win this challenge, he’ll be banking on Polk being rusty and off his game.

We can’t wait to see how this one eventually plays out.


Tom Dwan Gives a Sneak Peek of High Stakes Poker Reboot on PokerGo

A brand-new season of “High Stakes Poker” is all set to air on PokerGo in December, and none other than Tom Dwan announced the shows return. Not only that, he’s provided a sneak peek of the action.

Tom Dwan
Tom Dwan


Dwan, known to many poker fans by his now-legendary online poker screen name “dur6rr,” tweeted a pair of videos Tuesday afternoon that featured a star-studded cash game lineup with six-figure stacks in play.

Attached was a video that showed Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Jason Koon, Brandon Adams, Ben Lamb, and John Andress. It’s tough to make out the exact amount of money on the table, but the visible stacks looked to have between $50,000 and $100,000 in play.

Naturally, the lineup won’t be precisely the same. Some of the old-guard, like Doyle Brunson, are less active than they once were. Although some past fan favorites may make an appearance, nothing has been confirmed. However, even if some of the originals are missing, the show looks set to bring back memories of poker’s golden age.

Just a few minutes after the first post, Dwan tweeted a video that showed him playing pocket sevens, proving that cards were in the air and action was underway.

The main attraction of the show has always been the money in play. However, the original “High Stakes Poker” also shone a light on each player’s personality. The in-game dynamics were brought to the fore by commentators AJ Benza and Gabe Kaplan.

Details on the latest series are scant, so we don’t know who’ll be behind the mic. Hopefully, more information will be revealed in due time.


Jonathan Duhamel Fighting Canadian Tax Authorities Over CA$1.21 Million Tax Claim

The 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel has landed in quite a soup. The Canadian tax authorities want him to cough up almost CA$1.21 Million in back taxes.

Jonathan Duhamel
Jonathan Duhamel


Let’s brush through the facts of the case here. Gambling winnings are actually tax-free in Canada, but whoever plays it like a business has to pay. In December 2019, The Canada Revenue Agency wrote to various poker professionals who had failed to pay taxes on their winnings.

The Canada Revenue Agency alleges that Duhamel’s poker activities constitute the running of a business, and he’s therefore responsible for CA$1,219,114 in federal back taxes stemming from 2010-2012. That number could double with state taxes to Quebec, which would bring the total to roughly CA$2.4 million (~$1.8 million).

Duhamel has countered the charge stating that his poker winnings are “the result of chance.”

The tax authorities seem in no mood to budge from their stance. They claim that since Duhamel is a serious poker player and puts in heavy volume playing the game while not earning through any other means, it proved that Duhamel’s playing poker constituted a business and not recreational gambling. They also cited his piece swaps as evidence he was operating a business.

Duhamel countered this by stating that he had never “received specific training” in poker, and that luck, therefore, drove him to the millions he won. He says being labeled a professional poker player by sponsoring site PokerStars was purely for marketing purposes.

Duhamel’s lawyer will notably plead a 2006 decision in which the Tax Court of Canada found that two compulsive gamblers who won millions of dollars by betting sports were not operating a betting business and had, therefore, no tax obligation from these gains. In this decision, however, Chief Justice Donald Bowman clarified that a professional player could, in theory, have to pay taxes on his winnings.

As the dispute is before the courts, the CRA and Duhamel’s lawyer declined to comment on the case.


Midway Poker Tour Yet to Pay Players, Legal Action Threatened

The organizers of the Midway Poker Tour (MPT) could face legal action over a payout controversy, which has remained unresolved for almost a month after the tour’s epic-fail launch.

In early October, the inaugural MPT, which had a charity connection with 4 KIDS Sake, Inc., found itself at the center of a payout controversy in its $1,100 buy-in Main Event, that had attracted 266 participants.

The top 31 players were guaranteed $2,300 in prize money. However, due to the Illinois Charitable Gaming Acts and Regulations (230 ILCS30), organizers were only able to pay out $500 in cash atop the buy-in cost. As such, players only received $1,600 in cash no matter their finish, while the remainder of their “prize” was to be awarded in precious metals.

Chad Holloway tweeted a ‘behind the scenes’ image of what it’s like to get paid in precious metals.

The planned loophole was that those metals could then be repurchased on-site for cash, thus making the player’s payments whole. Unfortunately, organizers wound up overpaying for the metals, and that lost value was passed along to players to the tune of approximately 30% of their advertised prize. To top it off, no one was on-site to buy back the metals as initially planned.

On October 5, a day after the tournament debacle, founder and operator of MPT, Dan Bekavac made a post on the Midway Poker Tour Facebook page that stated:

“I will do my best to make things right with all that were affected by the horrible events that transpired on Sunday, due mostly to my actions and my inactions. I put a lot of time and money into this venture to bring Live Poker back, but I may have rushed things along while not having everything in place at the start. I take 100% responsibility, and again I will do my best to rectify the unfortunate and embarrassing situation that unfolded on Sunday.”

Dan Bekavac
Dan Bekavac


Chad Holloway spoke with Bekavac and reported that the latter planned to make it right for all players. And as Holloway followed along via social media and poker forums, he confirmed that $12,546 was repaid to 19 of the 31 players in a somewhat erratic fashion.

And then Bekavac and his MPT partner, Jason Trezak, disappeared, along with the tour’s website.

The 4KIDS Sake charity received only $640 from the entire debacle, and that came from a tip jar at the tournament. The agreement was that MPT would donate 50% of the proceeds from the event after operational costs, but Bekavac told them there was nothing left over after those costs.

According to Holloway, 4KIDS Sake is considering the option of letting the courts handle the matter. Reports suggest some players are contemplating legal action as well.

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