Doug Polk, a 25-year-old professional poker player from Pasadena in California, has had a lucrative year. Last October, he defeated high-stakes poker player Ben Sulksy in an online heads-up poker match and won $850,000. He then started playing live poker tournaments, in which he won over $3.6 million and the first World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelet of his career. Recently, Polk spoke to Card Player, sharing his opinions about the game, the industry, and his life as a poker player.
Since he played chess with his father, he began loving competition at a tender age, and when he was a teenager, he began taking part in the World Cyber Games tournaments. He began by playing Madden ’97 at SNES, but he “really got into games” only after playing a lot of chess and a bit of skateboarding. He then played plenty of WarCraft 3, StarCraft 2, and StarCraft. According to Polk, these real time strategy (RTS) games resembled chess greatly as they required players to make quick decisions on the basis of opponent behavior and several variables.
Speaking about his first experiences with poker, Polk said that he began by playing on PokerStars with a deposit of $20 when he was just a high school kid. Initially, he was not successful, but later he learned to stick to the soft games and was finally able to purchase a PokerStars polo with his frequent player points.
Polk then enrolled at the University of North Carolina with the intention of studying political science, after which he planned to enroll in a law school. Owing to certain negative experiences in college, he dropped out and went to Las Vegas to play poker. In Las Vegas, he spent most of his time playing poker, but after Black Friday, he had to migrate to Canada so that he could continue making a living with poker.
In September 2013, Polk participated in a high-stakes online heads-up poker game against Ben Sulsky. They agreed that they would play 15,000 hands of NL Hold’em poker at $100/$200 stake levels, and Polk won around $840,000. Polk calls it “his proudest poker accomplishment.”
According to a tracking site, Polk has won around 2.3 million playing online poker alone. He says that he would like to continue playing poker although he has proved that he is one of best as “at the end of the day, it is all about the money.”