– General Introduction –
Doug Polk is an American professional poker player born on December 16th, 1988 in Pasadena, California.
He rose to prominence as an online high stakes heads-up cash game player. Then, he went on to have success in the live tournament scene as well – his most notable achievement there being his victory at the $111K One Drop at the 2017 WSOP.
He also has a large internet following. He has one of the most popular poker channels on YouTube. At times, he’s strayed away from poker, both in terms of playing the game and content creation. Polk got involved in cryptocurrency instead – he has its own channel dedicated to that subject as well as a crypto website he runs.
However, he always found his way back to his favorite game eventually. He now even co-owns a poker club in Round Rock, Texas.
– Key Career Dates –
- 2007: He starts playing online poker.
- 2013: He defeats Ben “Sauce1234” Sulsky in a highly publicized $100K heads-up challenge.
- 2014: He wins his first WSOP bracelet in the $1,000 NLHE Turbo event.
- 2016: He creates his YouTube channel that later becomes the most popular on the platform in terms of poker content.
- 2017: He wins the $111K WSOP High Roller for One Drop event for $3.687 million.
- 2018: He announces his retirement from professional poker.
- 2020: He comes back from his retirement to beat his long-time foe Daniel Negreanu in another highly publicized, high stakes heads-up NLHE cash game challenge.
– Doug Polk’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Polk was introduced to chess at a very early age by his father. By the age of nine, he was getting lessons from a grandmaster. Later, in his high school years, he turned his attention to the video game World of Warcraft until he eventually found poker when he was 19. He attended college but dropped out to pursue playing cards as a career.
At the very start of his career, before dropping out of college, he opened up an account on PokerStars under the screen name “WCG|Rider” and started playing low stakes cash games. “WCG” presumably stands for “World Cyber Games”. Although Polk has stated in a live stream once that it stands for “West Coast Gangsta”, most likely jokingly.
Polk was active early on on the 2+2 Forums so he always had somewhat of an online following. However, the first time he got major coverage in the online poker media was in 2013. Then, he took on Ben “Sauce1234” Sulsky in a 15,000-hand $100/$200 No-Limit Hold’em heads-up online cash game challenge. It took around a month for the two to finish the duel. Polk eventually beat Sulsky out of $740,000 plus an additional $100,000 “bonus” side bet for winning the challenge.
→ Live Tournaments ←
Doug Polk has amassed $9.454 million in live tournament earnings during his career, according to his Hendon page – with those results, he’s placed in the top 150 on the All-Time Money List. That amount is made up of 31 individual cashes over the course of just 6 years.
The first comes from March 2011, and it’s a modest $753 for a 48th place finish in a $500 tournament at the Wynn in Las Vegas. His first major score is a 4th place finish in a $100,000 Challenge at the 2012 Aussie Millions, for which Polk got paid $770,000. There, he got to face off against the likes of Patrik Antonius, Erik Seidel and – who later became his arch nemesis – Daniel Negreanu.
In 2014, the California native cardplayer won a $100K Super High Roller held at the Bellagio for $1.648 million.
→ World Series of Poker ←
Polk has won 3 WSOP gold bracelets over the course of his career. He got his first one in 2014 when he beat a huge, over a 1,000-player field in the $1,000 NLHE Turbo event. He earned $252,000 with that victory.
His second bracelet is for a tag team event from the 2016 World Series. His teammate was Ryan Fee, the player who later became a coach for Polk’s poker coaching website, Upswing Poker. In tag team events a player’s stack can be taken over by their teammates any time at their discretion.
His greatest achievement in the live tournament scene, however, is finishing first in the $111,111 NLHE High Roller for One Drop at the World Series in 2017. He won $3.687 million – along with his third bracelet – which is his biggest single tournament score as of now. Polk beat out a star-studded field that included Phil Hellmuth, Antonio Esfandiari and – once again – Daniel Negreanu. For the title, he battled Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier heads-up – someone he played tens on thousands of hands against one on one when he was mainly an online heads-up player.
In addition, Doug Polk has 9 more cashes at WSOP events, one of which is from the 2011 Main Event.
→ Live Cash Games ←
Polk has appeared on numerous poker shows, both online and on television, where he played live cash games on camera.
These shows include Live at the Bike, Poker After Dark on PokerGO, and Poker Night in America on CBS Sports. He also played in the super high stakes cash game at the 2014 Aussie Millions which was broadcast on ESPN.
In March 2021, he also appeared on PokerGO’s revived version of the classic show High Stakes Poker. There, he played a session of $200/$400 No Limit Hold’em. In one hand, he flopped the second nut straight, while Phil Hellmuth made the nut straight. Amazingly, Polk still managed to get away with an astute fold. Later, the poker fans voted this moment “Poker Hand of the Year” at the 2022 Global Poker Awards.
→ Online Poker ←
As we wrote above, he started off as an online cash player, making most of his money in high stakes heads-up games. As PokerStars removed the 2-person cash tables from their selection, he started buying in for MTT’s more often. In 2017, he won a $5K online event on partypoker for $271,000 while livestreaming the entire 8-hour tournament play on YouTube.
Polk started a “Bankroll Challenge” in August 2016. He pledged to take a $100 bankroll and turn it into $10,000 playing online poker, while broadcasting the entire process on the internet. Although he originally predicted he would complete it within a few months, it eventually took him 2 years while he was even down to $45 at some point. To his credit, he did see the whole thing through and hit his $10,000 goal in August 2018. He played both cash games and MTT’s during his challenge.
As for his online cash game performance per se, he’s up around $577,000 after playing 173,000 hands on PokerStars, according to his HighstakesDB chart. Meanwhile, on Full Tilt, he’s $1.586 million in profit after 94,000 hands.
→ Internet Persona ←
Polk was very active in the News, Views and Gossip topic on the 2+2 Forums at the start of his career. He started his YouTube channel in 2016 where he uploads poker hand analysis, poker news recaps, and occasionally, vlogs. As of now, he has 330,000 subscribers. That is behind Daniel Negreanu who has 499,000 – however, Polk still beats him in terms of monthly views, so he can still be considered the most popular poker channel on YouTube. In addition, Polk has a cryptocurrency channel with 166,000 subscribers and a third channel where he posts his podcast episodes with 40,000 subs.
→ Sponsorships ←
Polk owns a poker coaching website, upswingpoker.com, and a cryptocurrency website, coincentral.com. He also co-owns the poker club The Lodge Poker Room, along with famous poker vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen, in Round Rock, TX.
→ Scandals ←
His feud with Jason Mercier
During a live stream it was clearly visible that Polk has Jason Mercier’s account tagged as a “bad reg” on PokerStars. Mercier, too, noticed and he and his wife voiced their discontent publicly online.
His feud with Daniel Negreanu
Polk often criticized Daniel Negreanu publicly for his comments defending PokerStars’ rake increase. He held a contest once for his fans to create the best memes that make fun of Negreanu and his infamous remarks. He even went as far as to call his Canadian nemesis “an embarrassment to the game” and “a little bitch” on Joe Ingram’s podcast. Of course, Negreanu didn’t just take that lying down, he in turn said that Polk is just a troll looking to create drama for views. The two have played in the same high stakes tournaments since their feud erupted, they were even seated at the same table multiple times.
In 2020, the multiple-year-long feud between Polk and Negreanu culminated in a 25,000-hand $200/$400 NLHE heads-up challenge between the two. The first few hundred hands were played live, in which Negreanu amassed a sizable lead – however, Polk bounced back and took the lead when the challenge moved online.
After 3 months of play and 36 sessions, the last of the 25,000 hands was played. Polk, fulfilling the expectations, ended the match-up with a $1.2 million profit. In the fallout of the match, Polk and his “arch nemesis” Negreanu seem to have buried the hatchet for good.
The JNandez scandal
In July 2018, Fernando “JNandez87” Habegger, who was teaching a Pot Limit Omaha course for Upswing, unexpectedly resigned and released a 1-hour long video criticizing Polk and his coaching site. He spoke negatively about the way Polk treated him when they first met and he also criticized the affiliate deals Upswing made. On the other hand, Polk felt JNandez wronged his customers who paid for the PLO class with his swift departure and defended his affiliate deals. He even showed bank statements and Paypal screenshots in a video on his YouTube channel to prove that JNandez has been fairly compensated.