The countdown to the year’s biggest event has begun and over the next 25 days, Poker Central will introduce the entire 2017 Super High Roller Bowl field. From the world’s best high-stakes players, to online crushers and successful businessmen, poker’s most exclusive event has it all. Follow Poker Central’s “25 Days of SHRBowl” to know who will be competing when cards get in the air on May 28th.
While Doug Polk and Jason Les are high-stakes professionals with tremendous tournament resumes to boot, both are also known for their battles with artificial intelligence. The worlds of poker and AI have grown closer and closer over the last few years but Polk and Les, along with Bjorn Li and Dong Kim, where the first to compete against the machines. Their team of heads-up specialists played Carnegie Melon University’s Claudico in 80,000 hands of heads-up No Limit Hold’em in 2015 and they were the last group of humans to beat a computer playing poker program.
If there was a poker draft to save mankind, Doug Polk would be the #1 pick. The Upswing Poker talisman has had success at nearly every level of the game and in every arena, dating all the way back to pre-Black Friday online days. That is where Polk cut his teeth and quickly rose the stakes to become one of the best heads-up players in the world.
Away from the virtual felt, Polk has been even more impressive. Despite playing a relatively small live tournament schedule compared to some of his Super High Roller Bowl counterparts, Polk has six-figure scores dating back to 2014. Those results equate to over $5 million in career earnings, and a lion’s share of that number come from massive scores in back-to-back Aussie Millions High Rollers.
Polk’s first foray into the High Roller world was a successful one, finishing 4th in the 2014 Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge for $770,000. A year later, Polk upped the stakes and his finish, notching a 3rd place result in the 2015 Aussie Millions $250,000 Challenge. He earned $807,000 for that podium finish and those two Australian results bookended a few more High Roller cashes, including a victory and a $1,648,000 score from a $100,000 ARIA Super High roller in the summer of 2014.
That summer didn’t just bring a seven-figure score but also Polk’s first World Series of Poker bracelet. Polk won the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Turbo event for $251,000 and after recording a runner-up finish in 2015, in the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Six Handed Championship, Polk was back in the winner’s circle last summer.
Polk and Ryan Fee won the first-ever WSOP Tag Team event but they weren’t the only Upswingers that made themselves known at the World Series of Poker. Jason Les, pictured above, burst onto the scene during the 2015 WSOP, notching a runner-up finish in the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout and a 3rd place result in the $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em Championship. Those two scores were good for over $266,000 in combined winnings and Les did even better this past year.
He recorded a cash in the $111,111 buy-in High Roller for One Drop, good for $216,000, and then navigated his way to a 40th place finish and a $174,000 score in the WSOP Main Event. Those scores pushed Les over the $1,500,000 mark in terms of career earnings but his One Drop result was not his first foray into the High Roller world.
Les’ best career result came in the WPT Alpha8 $100,000 Super High Roller during the 2014 Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic, where he finished 5th against a stacked final table. Despite his WSOP and High Roller success, most of Les’ experience comes from the virtual felt. He, much like Polk, specializes in heads-up cash games and is also considered one of the best heads-up players in the world.
While Polk is the first player off the Dooms Day Draft Board, Les would be a top pick as well. Both have battled the machines and won but until they are called on to defeat the best AI the world has to offer, they’ll first battle some of the best poker players in the world in this summer’s Super High Roller Bowl.