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Doug “WCGRider” Polk Extends Lead in Challenge; Makes Waves with Comments about Phil Galfond

Doug “WCGRider” Polk extended his lead in his challenge with Ben “Sauce1234” Sulsky today. He now leads by $394,270 after 3,806 hands. While this is a commanding lead, if someone can get a large lead after such a short period, losing the lead with well over two-thirds of the hands left to play is completely possible and means that this challenge is far from over. This hasn’t stopped people from saying they made a bad choice by betting on Sauce, though, and expecting anything else from reactionary players would be far too hopeful.

Even more interesting than the challenge itself are comments that Polk made during recent interviews. One such interview was with the 2+2 Pokercast where he made waves with a lot of his comments about Phil Galfond. The first was completely fair, but seems isn’t something that a lot of people would actually say.  Essentially, Polk said that Galfond was the weakest player in the last Superstar Showdown and that encouraged players to play. In a separate interview, he said that some players were waiting to see if Galfond would be in it again before committing to play. While it might seem to insult Galfond to a large degree, it’s important to note that when you are the mark against the best 8 No-Limit Hold’em players in the world, that’s not exactly an insult when it isn’t your major game.

The second set of comments are significantly more controversial and seem to point to possibly something else in the relationship we don’t know about. Polk said during the Pokercast interview that Galfond is using his reputation in the community to coerce other high-stakes players to make –EV videos for him. This is a strong claim and really does make listeners think. Polk argues that Galfond has so much respect in the community that he has convinced other players that making videos for him is good, while in reality, players are actually hurting themselves more than anything by making these videos. He also says that Galfond knows this and is still having them do it.

When pressed by Adam Schwartz on the issue, Polk pointed to when he was able to watch a video from “Odd_Odsen” while playing PLO and able to make adjustments to start winning the match based on what he saw in that video. While that anecdotal evidence is pretty interesting and makes the argument that for individual players, videos might not be worth making. Saying that Phil Galfond is using his influence to have players knowingly make these –EV videos is a pretty far stretch.

The last thing he said about Phil Galfond is that he might not be as good as we all think. He seemed to question how math-oriented he really is, how much he actually plays, and how much him having a lot of money actually allows him to win, not his actual talent. This is a pretty bold statement because it also covers Pot- Limit Omaha, which many consider Galfond to be really good at. He didn’t provide any reason to suggest why he thinks that and didn’t really offer anything else when pressed by the hosts. It’s still notable, though, because he seemed convinced even if he couldn’t explain it.

Polk might be unknown to a lot of people who don’t follow online action really closely, but with his challenge being featured by Full Tilt Poker he is getting a lot more attention. With that attention he seems to have decided to try to swipe at well-established and respected players and if they are warranted, then it seems justified. However, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence for what he suggests or at least he isn’t forthcoming with said evidence. It will be interesting to see if he is pressed further on a lot of these thoughts in later interviews and how he responds to that, and if he will maintain the same conviction as he is showing now.

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Andrew Schupick