[toc]The game of poker, and a rather good cause supported by it, were the big winners at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) this week, as arguably the most popular pro on the internet took home one of the series’ biggest prizes.
California native Doug Polk, 28, already has one of the most-viewed poker channels on YouTube. Videos on the Doug Polk Poker channel regularly draw more than 100,000 viewers.
These are the kind of numbers that suggest there are more than just hardcore poker fans watching. There’s little doubt that Polk is drawing new people to poker, and ultimately, new money into a game that’s growth has mostly stagnated over the past few years.
Polk has also spent a lot of time lately launching the poker training site Upswing Poker. It is training for more than just elite-level players. In fact, Upswing appears to be the kind of place where newcomers to the game can learn to play better. It’s yet another shining example of what Polk is doing for poker as a whole, instead of just himself.
Winning the WSOP One Drop High Roller
Polk’s big win this week came in the WSOP’s $111,111 One Drop High Roller at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The event itself is a great example of what some of the game’s greatest players are doing to contribute to society. In fact, $11,111 from each buy-in goes to the ONE DROP Foundation, an international non-profit organization created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté. Ultimately, that meant the event raised well over $1.4 million to help provide access to clean and sustainable water sources around the world.
That made ONE DROP and the people it seeks to help pretty big winners this week.
However, Polk didn’t exactly go home empty-handed either. The tournament drew a total of 130 entries. Polk outlasted them all to win a $3,686,865 first-place prize and his third WSOP bracelet.
Poker lucked out to get a forward-looking champ
The $111,111 One Drop High Roller is a high-profile event that draws some rather elite competition. Had the cards and chips fell a different way, the prestigious title and multi-million dollar prize could have landed in the hands of someone disinterested, or too young and shortsighted to understand how it can be used to help promote the game.
It also could have ended up in the hands of a more selfish and predatory pro. The kind that conspires to keep big games private. The kind who keeps wealthy whales with the wool pulled over their eyes all to themselves. This pro is another shortsighted type that thinks only about the growth of his or her own bottom line, and not at all about the growth of the industry they owe it all to.
Polk is a people’s poker champ
Thankfully, it didn’t. Polk appears to be on the other side of all that. This WSOP One Drop High Roller champ is a people’s champion.
In fact, one lucky Polk Twitter follower is going to get a piece of the win, thanks to a giveaway he’s running. But perhaps even more importantly, this whole thing will serve to raise Polk’s growing profile. Then, should he continue to make promoting the game and drawing new people in a priority, poker will ultimately be the biggest winner of all.
Photo courtesy of WSOP