Doug Polk was confident, smiling and having a great time - and that was before the final table even started.
After winning the $1,000 NLHE Turbo, his first WSOP bracelet and $251,969, Polk was ecstatic.
“I can’t believe this happened,” Polk said when he picked up his bracelet for the first time. “There are no more opponents.”
After his solo photoshoot, an army of Polk’s friends—armed with posters, Doug Polk T-shirts and vodka sodas—joined the fun.
Despite the fact that some of them had bracelet bets against Polk, they were all happy their friend had taken another step towards achieving his goals.
“I’m tired of being WCGRider, I want to be Doug Polk,” Polk said. “I want to get out there and I want to try and establish myself in poker.”
Chess, Video Games Prep for Heads-Up Poker
WCGRider is Polk’s online name, one that people have come to know and fear as one of the best high-stakes heads-up players in the world.
But heads-up isn’t just a poker specialty. One-on-one competition is part of who Polk is.
“I’ve always loved heads-up, pretty much anything,” Polk said.
“I’ve always been very competitive person. So, I think, naturally, when I got into poker it always had a kind of the allure to me, to kind of go down that road.
“I was into chess. I was into competitive video gaming. I was into a lot of things that were one-on-one and I think that poker just naturally drew me towards that.”
According to Polk, his heads-up experience helped him achieve quick victory in the last stage of this tournament, when it was just him and Andy Philachack.
High-Stakes Experience Pays Off
“[Philachack’s] strategy had some gaping holes in it. I was worried about which way is the luck going where are the cards swinging. I knew that there was some strategies that I was going to employ that were going to be particularly effective.
“And I don’t really get rattled by all-ins, I’ve had pots go my way and not go my way for a lot more money than the difference between second place and first place here. Not to mention I’m still the chip leader after losing the all-in.
“Three-handed was actually much tougher because there were a lot more variables there. Heads-up is kind of my specialty, so, three-handed I had to do a little more guesswork and I actually got owned by Jonathan [Hanner] a couple hands for sure.”
But only a minute portion of the 30-hour tournament was heads-up. Polk had to battle his way through a field 1,473 players at nine-handed tables for the majority of the tournament. Turbo mode.
The levels were only 30-minutes long and surviving all of them meant dodging a few bullets.
“My friends are berating me because they said I won the lotto, which, eh, I guess that’s in some ways probably not far from the truth,” Polk said. “This was a very luck-based tournament and I am fortunate for how I ran throughout the duration of it.”
“Sickest Heater Ever” on Way to Bracelet
One shining orbit of luck in particular sticks out for Polk.
“I think somewhere around level 16 or 17 yesterday, I just went on the sickest heater I’ve ever gone through.
“I got 8-7 suited with like 60k chips, flopped a pair and a flush draw and got it in versus ace-high, doubled. Next hand I raise K-Q suited, caller has jacks. 10-5-5 flop, flush draw, I get it in hit a flush.
“Couple hands later cutoff opens I jam 20 bigs on the button 10-9 suited. Big blind calls, cutoff calls, cutoff has aces, I flop a flush draw. I think we all know what happens.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really that kind of heater throughout the course of like, you know, an orbit. So that was really cool, I’d say that was my defining moment.”
Bracelet Bets Against Ivey and Mo, Not Rettenmaier
Polk’s first WSOP victory earned him $251,969 from the prizepool and a bit more from bracelet bets. Minutes after Polk’s victory, Jason Mo was standing on the rail.
“I got your money right here,” Mo said, waving a stack of money worth $5,000. Polk then neatly put the stack of cash on his chips for the victory photo.
Polk won an extra $5k from his friend and fellow poker pro Jason Mo.
Polk also has some side action Phil Ivey.
“I have a piece of a bet with Ivey,” Polk said. “It’s just, I have my 60 to win a certain amount, I’m not supposed to really say the odds.”
Then there’s another bet that Polk was going to take but never got around to.
Marvin Rettenmaier announced on his Party Poker blog that he’d take anyone on for a bracelet. The only terms were that they both had to play the same NLHE events and the One Drop didn’t count.
Jason Mo took Rettenmaier on for the full amount -- $100,000 -- and Polk is kicking himself for not doing the same.
“I actually just told [Mo] four days ago that I really wanted to take the bet with Marvin and now very much regretting it as I’m on the cusp here,” Polk said when the tournament was three-handed. “I’d be interested in doing that in the future with Marvin, he’s a nice guy. I wouldn’t mind some friendly competition.”
Polk “Likely” to Play $1m Big One for One Drop
While Polk doesn’t mind some friendly competition with Rettenmaier, he prefers to steer clear from betting against both Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu.
“That bet is less appealing to me. I think that they both have good equity to win and combined, it seems to me that they might be able to clear it, I’m not sure,” Polk said.
“It seems close, if they are profitable it certainly can’t be by that much though. In order for them to be very profitable they’d have to win 30 percent or something each, which is not happening.”
Now that he’s won his bracelet bets, Polk said, he can relax a bit and take it a bit easier for the rest of the summer. That doesn’t mean he’s taken his eyes off the biggest prize poker has to offer though.
“I most likely am going to play One Drop,” Polk said. “It would mainly be if a lot of players withdraw. We’d have to see, there are a lot of things up in the air right now, but I think for now you can say that I’m very likely to play.”