Leaving Las Vegas: Doug Polk leaves the poker dream behind in Sin City

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 03/30/2021

Polk announces departure from Las Vegas after more than a decade in the city

Doug Polk left Las Vegas behind last week, marking the end of an era for one of poker’s most significant modern stars.

The poker icon moved to Las Vegas more than ten years ago to chase the poker dream, pursuing a life as a full-time poker pro. Polk departs Las Vegas with a resume worthy of the Poker Hall of Fame, with his contributions to the poker industry going well beyond his feats at the table.

Polk announced his exit from the U.S. epicenter of live poker in a March 25 tweet:

“Today is my last day living in Las Vegas,” Polk tweeted. “Moved here over a decade ago with just a few thousand to my name and a dream to play poker for a living.

“Still hard to believe how it all shook out, couldn’t be more grateful for the life I’ve gotten to live. To the next chapter.”

Polk’s departure from Las Vegas doesn’t necessarily signal the end of his playing days, although he’s stated that his current return to the game is only temporary. Polk retired from poker in March 2020, returning to the game to engage in a heads-up challenge against longtime rival Daniel Negreanu in late 2020.

That heads-up match turned out to be a resounding success for Polk, who took down more than $1.2 million in profit against Negreanu in the 25,000-hand tilt.

Polk then made a brief but memorable television appearance on High Stakes Poker, sitting in for a time across two episodes. In that short duration, Polk made perhaps the greatest fold in the history of the show, refusing to pay off Phil Hellmuth in a second nuts versus nut straight setup.

Polk’s YouTube channel grew to become one of the most viewed and influential content outlets in poker over the latter half of the 2010s. He founded the Upswing Poker training site in 2015, with many videos for both Upswing and the YouTube channel emanating from Polk’s Las Vegas home.

That backdrop is no more, however, as Polk departs life in Las Vegas.

Poker community reacts to Polk’s Las Vegas exit

While Polk’s separation from Las Vegas doesn’t mark an explicit retirement from playing, it does essentially take Polk out of play from both live and regulated online poker in Nevada. Polk’s peers largely treated his announcement as a retirement speech in response:

“It’s truly a hell of a story. And it’s that much more impressive that you’ve arrived here (by your own admission) first and foremost as a result of extraordinary effort as opposed to raw talent,” tweeted live cash game pro Garrett Adelstein. “In many ways, you are quite a role model for me Doug. In essence, thank you.”

Will Jaffee shared similar but more concise sentiments in his response to Polk’s tweet:

“Your a legend bro. Wishing you a peaceful and relaxing retirement in Boca Raton,” Jaffee wrote.

Twitter user and poker player “VegasRyan” echoed a response likely shared by many players who Polk inspired to improve in poker’s ever-tough modern landscape.

“Happy for you man, you’ve been a lot of fun to watch and an inspiration over the years for old timey Recs like me who need the most improvement, hope success and happiness find you wherever you land,” read the tweet from “VegasRyan.”

Polk hasn’t stated exactly where he’s going from here but tweeted that Austin, TX is a likely destination.

Featured image source: Flickr/World Poker Tour