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The Meteoric Rise of Doug Polk

December 2, 2021
23,934 Views

Doug Polk is one of the best Heads-up No-limit Hold'em players globally, but his story from zero to hero is nothing short of intriguing. He had humble beginnings at NL 2($0.01/$0.02) with only a $20 deposit on his PokerStars account.

Polk played micro-stakes for months before cashing out $10,000. It was at this moment that he decided to drop out of college and chase his poker dream. By 2013 Polk needed no introduction and was a household name in the poker sphere due to his prowess in heads-up No-Limit Hold'em format. He dominated Heads-up poker and was now a high roller player winning hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Due to his expertise in Heads-up poker, most opponents were afraid to compete against him. Luckily later during the year, Polk found a player willing to challenge him; he went head-on with Ben ‘Sauce123’ Sulsky in a highly advertised poker contest of 15,000 hands. Polk emerged victorious in the game and bagged a total of $740,000 and an additional bonus of $100,000. This victory cemented his status as a world-class poker player.


In 2015 Polk launched a poker training website with his fellow poker player and buddy Ryan Fee called Upswing Poker. It contained various strategies to beat poker games and a learning tool for poker players who wanted to improve their game.

Doug Polk has also been successful in the live arena; mid-2010s, Polk took part in a couple of live tournaments and won three bracelets;-

  1. $1,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em 2014(won $251,969)
  2. $1,000 Tag Team No Limit Hold’em(with Ryan Fee) 2016(won $153,358)
  3. $111,111 High Roller One Drop No Limit Hold’em 2017(3,686,865)

His unique bracelet was the 2017 one where Polk won $3.68 million, defeating 130 players.


Doug Polk Vs. Daniel Negreanu Grudge Match

Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu had been beefing up for a long time. This animosity resulted in a Heads-up poker challenge match. Negreanu accepted the challenge to play two tables of $200/$400 heads-up no-limit hold’em against his arch-rival Polk for 25,000 hands.

The match commenced on November 4th, and the duo played their first session live at the PokerGO studios. Negreanu started on a high note and won $116,000 in what turned out to be the solely live session of the challenge.

The challenge switched over to the internet, and Polk’s prowess was on full display, winning $385,000 in the subsequent two sessions. Negreanu would, however, recover and win the next two weeks, winning four out of five sessions for a total of $447,000 and holding an early lead..


Day 9 of the challenge Polk won $205,521this This proved to be a vital point in the competition for Polk as he beasted his way through to victory. The challenge continued with Polk’s domination, and by day 18, he was approaching $1,000,000 in profits mid-way through the contest.

After 12,500 hands, Negreanu had the chance to quit without penalty, he even considered surrendering, but he opted to continue with the challenge. He blamed bad luck for his losses.

Negreanu’s decision to continue playing seemed worthwhile as he won the subsequent seven out of eight sessions; he still had a $500,000 deficit because most of his winning sessions were small amounts.

Polk bulldozed his way to victory, winning the final ten sessions. Polk won $1,200,00, which was 30 buy-ins over 25,000 hands. Negreanu won 17 out of 36 sessions, mostly a few buy-ins.

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