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Why Some Poker Grudge Matches Fail to Impress

Poker Grudge Match

There have been a lot of poker grudge matches over the last couple of years and by and large they have proved disappointing. The Doug Polk – Daniel Negreanu feud ended with Polk absolutely crushing Negreanu. Phil Hellmuth has also whipped Negreanu in two rounds of High Stakes Duel.

Other matches outside of Negreanu’s match have also failed to impress. Why is this? We will take a look at the grudge match concept to see why they fail to impress.

Poker Players Are Big Talkers on Twitter / Social Media

The first thing that you will notice in these grudge matches is that one or both parties are incredibly bold on social media. They talk a lot of shit leading up to a match but once they are face to face, they rarely are able to muster the courage to produce the same level of trash talking.

Phil Hellmuth is perhaps the exception, and he was basically ridiculed for his “Apex Predator Shit” line regarding his match with Antonio Esfandiari. To be fair, Hellmuth has a habit of saying things that get ridiculed.

A lot of the hype or buildup to these matches are done via social media with little face-to-face confrontation. Just once, we’d like to see a couple of players go to blows or at least get into a massive argument pre-match. We are here to be entertained after all.

The Poker Tends to Be Very Dull

Once players get to playing the actual game, things generally tend to go south. There’s generally little or no trash talking as players are trying to focus on the poker. With as much trash as some of these matches have in the buildup, you’d think that players would talk some shit while playing.

That was one big gripe about the Polk-Negreanu feud. The actual poker was relatively boring. So much so that many people ended up skipping a lot of the actual play and either went to read reports on the results or watched the interviews after each session.

The post-match interviews often proved to be more entertaining than the poker. If the players were half this animated during play, people might have tuned in.

One Player is Generally Grossly Outmatched

Two of the most hyped poker grudge matches in the last couple of years proved to be the most lopsided. The battle between Cate Hall and Mike Dentale resulted in a pitiful result for Dentale. He appeared grossly overmatched in the battle.

Then we look against Negreanu – Polk and we expected Daniel to lose, but not to the tune of $1 million. There was a brief stint where things were interesting but otherwise, Negreanu’s best shot was taken during the live kick-off.

The Hellmuth and Negreanu battle has proven a bit of a better battle, but in the end, Negreanu is getting swept there.

If People Aren’t Entertained – They Will Quit Coming

The fact remains that most people follow these grudge matches because they want to be entertained. For many, it is less about playing quality poker than the trash talking and ass-kicking they want to see from their opponents.

Few people want to see players go to physical blows. That’s not what we mean. However, we do want to see at least some of what led to this match. Barking at each other until the cards hit the felt is too predictable and makes everything seem like a completely scripted setup. After a while, people will quit taking the bait. Give the fans something to keep them coming back, even if it results in a lower quality of poker play.

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