Doug Polk, Andrew Neeme, Brad Owen purchase Austin, Texas poker room

Haley Hintze
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Posted on January 4, 2022 1:52 am EST

Three well-known poker pros — Doug Polk, Andrew Neeme, and Brad Owen — announced today that they had purchased the Lodge Poker Club & Card House, the largest social-poker club serving Texas’s capital city of Austin. All three players are already a part of the Polk-founded Upswing Poker training site operation, while Polk moved from Las Vegas to Austin two years ago and is expected to head up the operation.

Polk, Owen, and Neeme are joining already-existing ownership partners at the Lodge, which offers 60 tables of poker action on a membership basis. The club is located in Round Rock, one of Austin’s northern suburbs. Collectively, the deal makes the three the Lodge’s majority owners.

The three pros are also well known as poker vloggers, though in Polk’s case that’s been an off-again, on-again pursuit, as with his own poker career. In typical vlogger style, however, Polk released a video announcing the trio’s acquisition of the club, including plans for a special series of events later in January to celebrate the Lodge’s ownership transition. The special festivities will run January 24-30 and will feature the clubs’ three new and well-known co-owners in a variety of roles, including as featured commentators on live-streamed action from the club. A $500,000 guaranteed tourney beginning on January 26 will be part of the week’s festivities.

Polk details decision to become poker club owner

Polk’s vlog detailing the release delved into his motivations for entering this aspect of poker business. Polk admitted being impressed by the energy shown within the sprawling Texas poker club scene, where hundreds of clubs have sprung up in recent years, taking advantage of loopholes in Texas’s existing gambling laws. Those loopholes have allowed some alleged bad actors to enter the industry, as occurred with a still-unsettled situation involving a well-known Houston club, Johnny Chan’s 88 Social. With the three successful players and poker businessmen on board, however, Austin’s Lodge Poker Club & Card House has likely secured some of the state’s most stable ownership.

Polk also confirmed a fourth poker pro, Jake Abdalla, as an additional investor. Several other people from Polk’s Upswing Poker operation will contribute their services as well, including Mike Brady, Upswing co-founder Ryan Fee, Matt Kaleta, and Polk’s controversial video editor, Thomas “SrslySirius” Keeling.

Polk also described the unique circumstances under which Texas’s poker clubs operate. For example, such clubs are allowed to charge for entry, in the form of memberships, but they cannot profit directly from the poker action, especially in the form of rake. The Lodge, according to Polk, is and will remain solely membership-based.

New owners celebrate The Lodge acquisition

“Big news to kick off 2022,” Neeme posted on Twitter. “I’m partnering up with @LodgePokerClub alongside @TheBradOwen and @DougPolkVids! It’s a new role for me at this point in my career and I’m stoked to put in a lot of time there to help the business & the other guys succeed.”

Owen offered a similar take. “I started my [YouTube] channel after watching and being heavily inspired by @DougPolkVids and @andrewneeme,” he wrote. “Today, the three of us are officially co-owners of @LodgePokerClub. It’s really hitting me today. I’m so excited for my new role in the poker industry and for what’s to come.”

Polk added, “The Lodge is already the biggest room in Central Texas, and I’m excited to help them run bigger tournaments, more cash games, and more special events for poker players all around the country.”

Featured image source: Twitter / @DougPolkVids