Five years ago, one University of North Carolina Wilmington freshman made the best move of his life. He decided to drop out of college in order to pursue his dream: to become a professional poker player. “I think, in hindsight, it was slightly foolish to try and live the dream in that way, but it worked out and I was good enough to make it work,” Doug Polk told WSOP.com.
Since then, using the widely-known screen name “WCGRider,” Polk has taken the online nosebleeds stakes by storm by challenging the best in the business and proclaiming himself the best Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’Em player in the world. He won almost $2 million playing the highest stakes on Full Tilt and PokerStars, according to HighStakes DB, and now he wants to try something different. He wants to stop hiding behind a computer screen.
I’m tired of being WCGRider. I want to be Doug Polk. I want to get out there and I want to try to establish myself in poker. My goals long term are to get a sponsor and to work with other people in the industry and I need to not be hiding behind a computer screen to do that.”
Like in the online world, Polk’s liftoff on the live poker felt was furious. He started the year with a massive $770,237 cash won for securing fourth place in the Aussie Millions Super High Roller. He continued his run in Las Vegas by cashing in six-figure prizes in the 2014 Bellagio High Rollers. And after two 2014 WSOP cashes including a near-the-final-table finish in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Championship, Polk broke the ice and won the first gold bracelet of his career.
(The bracelet) gives me a more solid foundation to build on my position within the industry.”
The high stakes player started Day 2 with the chip lead and with Andy Philachack – second place in the chip leaderboard – threatening his dream. Since it was a turbo tournament, all the nine remaining players had to think quickly and gamble more often than not.
The two chip leaders got things going; Polk took the first pot while Philachack eliminated an opponent the next hand. After an open-raise and a call, Philachack decided to make a continuation bet on the #8d#7h#4h flop but Andrew Mackenzie reacted immediately and moved all-in. The initial aggressor eventually called with…only Jack high? He had #js#10c; Mackenzie held an open-ender with #10s#9d.
“It’s still a turbo guys. I’m not afraid to call with jack-high,” Philachack warned his competition after winning the pot with just a jack kicker.
The elimination frenzy continued with Dash Dudley, Gianluca Cedolia, Anthony Gregg, and Liam Alcock all hitting the rail in a matter of 13 hands. Polk sent Cedolia and Alcock home by catching a favorable flop plus one lucky river for the straight. He also eliminated Chad Cox in fourth place a little while later after calling an all-in preflop with #qs#js.
Three-handed, the play slowed down until Philachack caught a lucky ace. He was all-in and way behind with his #ac#7c hand versus Jonathan Hanner’s #jd#jc. The board, however, changed that by delivering an ace to the initial underdog. Eight hands later, Philachack finished the job and sent Hanner packing, setting the stage for the final battle against Polk.
A battle dominated by the high roller. Polk resumed the fast-paced action by calling two streets with two small pairs and winning the first big pot of heads-up play. And with the chips going his way, Polk gave the final blow on the 109th hand of the final table. He open-raised preflop and checked the #10s#8d#3s flop. Philachack checked as well but when the turn brought the #3d, he check-min-raised. Polk called and on the #js river he snap-called Philachack’s all-in with #9h#7d for the winning straight.
Here are the final table payouts:
- Doug Polk – $251,969
- Andy Philachack – $155,756
- Jonathan Hanner – $102,503
- Chad Cox – $73,894
- Liam Alcock – $54,088
- Anthony Gregg – $40,168
- Gianluca Cedolia – $30,252
- Dash Dudley – $23,093
- Andrew Mackenzie – $17,857
Congratulations to Doug Polk on winning Event #23: $1,000 Turbo NLHE and his first WSOP gold bracelet. Can he continue his run and go for a second one?