DOUG POLK AND RYAN FEE WINS $1,000 BUY-IN TAG-TEAM NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM EVENT
Dynamic duo collects $153,358 top prize in Event #61
First team poker event in 34 years at WSOP draws rave reviews and is a big success
863 teams register to play in group competition – top 130 get paid
MEET THE LATEST WSOP GOLD BRACELET CHAMPION(S)
Name: Doug Polk
Birthplace: Pasadena, CA
Current Residence: Las Vegas, NV
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes: 10
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 3
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 2
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 1st (2014)
Total WSOP Earnings: $849,346
Personal Facts: Widely-regarded as a top online pro and short-handed specialist / recently started new training website called “upswingpoker.com”
Name: Ryan Fee
Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA
Current Residence: Philadelphia, PA
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes: 3
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 2
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 47h (2014)
Total WSOP Earnings: $194,642
Personal Facts: Cash game player / Plays few tournaments / recently started new training website called “upswingpoker.com”
“I played 5-2 suited. The flop came, and it was all big cards. Then, the turn came and it was a bigger card. And the river came and it was a big card. I was playing the board. So, it was my turn to act and I said – ‘all in.’ That was a great spot to put all my money in, but it didn’t work.” (Ryan Fee)
(Interrupting) “Yeah, that was an amazing spot. The other guy called with ace high!” (Doug Polk)
“I think being one of the skilled teams is a huge advantage (in the team event). It’s not a big deal if your teammate punts off your stack somewhat reasonably. But on the weaker teams there is a lot more pressure to just not screw things up. So, we can play our game and not really care if we bust. The less-skilled teams have players that don’t want to be that guy that goes deep, makes a bad call, and busts out." (Doug Polk)
The first ever tag-team WSOP tournament was held as a unique new attraction for poker players who were seeking something just a little bit different from the usual isolation chamber that is typically associated with most major poker competitions.
Now, after it over, if you were to ask any of the more than 2,000 players how much the enjoyed this unique event which is likely to become a staple at future WSOPs, the reviews would probably be universally positive.
At least two players though so, anyway.
Teams formed based on rules which allowed up to four players to participate -- per entry. Each member of the winning team was to be awarded a coveted WSOP gold bracelet. This marked the first time in 34 years that a team event had been held at the series. The last such event, called “Mixed Doubles,” was completed at the 1982 WSOP. That event required two players (a male and a female) to compete. It was also a Seven-Card Stud tournament back then. The revised competition was in No-Limit Hold’em and had no restrictions on gender or number of player, so long as at least two people competed, but not more than four.
The rules also allowed for maximum flexibility among the participants. So long as one of the players played a round to blinds on Day One of the tournament, he or she was fully entitled to be a member of the team, and hence be eligible to receive a gold bracelet.
The winning team was comprised of Doug Polk, 27, from Las Vegas and Ryan Fee, 28, from Philadelphia. Both are professional poker players. Interestingly, they entered as a due to promote a new poker site they own and operate.
“We entered this tournament because we thought it would be a good way to promote our new coaching site, upswingpoker.com,” Fee said. “We thought – it would be a cool way to promote the website, especially if we won!”
As expected, the event took on a festive atmosphere, particularly during the first of three playing days. The rails around the tournament arena weren’t just packed with spectators and fans. They were loaded with teammates, cheering on their friends and family who were members of the same team. As the teams entered into the money and maneuvered their way towards the final table, the action became far more serious. No player wanted to cost their teammates a chance to win a gold bracelet.
The tournament concept was perhaps best embodied by the Little Family, who entered as a team. Jonathan Little, the seasoned poker pro, strategist, and book author invited his parents, Larry and Rita Little to join a team. The Little Family ended up making it all the way to the final table, ending up with a ninth place finish.
The $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament played over three days and nights and concluded upon the ESPN main stage at the Rio in Las Vegas.
The teammates collected $153,358 in prize money together (to be distributed as they wished), making this not just a huge financial bonanza, but also a shared thrill among close friends.
Doug Polk and Ryan Fee won their victory by coming out on top at a final table which included some big names quote well known in the poker world. In fact, the top two teams were one might consider “super groups” of players with extraordinary talent. The final moment of triumph came when Fee scooped the final pot of the tournament against Gabriel Paul (teamed up with Niel Mittelman/Adam Greenberg) who finished as the runners up.
“Two weeks ago, we were making fun of the format, that you could just play a round of blinds, and we went on a (podcast) and really made fun of the whole concept,” Fee said. “Then, we won! Hooray!”
Fee is mostly a cash game player. Polk plays just about everything but became proficient at playing online and even has participated in a significant academic study called “Man vs. Machine,” where he played heads-up for real money against a computer. This was Fee’s first gold bracelet win. This was Polk’s second win, after he took a Turbo NLHE event two years ago.
“I’m not big on tournaments, but I would definitely do this again,” Fee said as he was high-fived by Polk, both wearing shiny new gold bracelet.
This tourney attracted 863 teams which created a prize pool totaling $776,700. The top 130 teams collected prize money.
Of special note was Ryan Laplante cashing in this tournament. This was his 12th in-the-money finish at the 2016 WSOP. That is the highest number of cashes by any player in history over the course of the summer series. However, his record is likely to be challenged by several players this year and in the future, since a new format adopted at the start of the series pays out 15 percent of the field, instead of 10 percent as was previously the case.
Aside from the winners, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Second Place: Mittleman-Greenberg-Paul -- $94,748 Niel Mittelman, from Libertyville, IL cashed for the 20th time in his career / Adam Greenberg, from Long Grove, IL cashed for the first time at the WSOP / Gabriel Paul also cashed for the first time ever at the series.
Fourth Place: Dempsey-Godfrey -- $47,278 James Dempsey won his gold bracelet in 2010 / Christopher Godfrey cashed for the third time at the series.
Fifth Place: Owen-Ahmed-Glaser-Lybaert -- $34,118 Owais Ahmed won a gold bracelet in 2011 and now has more than $1.1 in earnings in his 20 cashes at the series / Bart Lybaert, from Belgium, cashed for the 14th time / Benny Glaser has won two gold bracelets at this year’s series, and three overall.
Seventh Place: Peters-Altman -- $18,564 Reuben Peters, from Boston, MA cashed for the third time at the WSOP / Robert Altman, from Telluride, CO picked up his second cash. This was the first final table appearance by either player.
Eighth Place: Padula-Urban-Caruso -- $14,003 Michael Padula enjoyed his first cash ever in a series event / Daniel Urban also cashed for the first time / Marco Caruso also cashed for the first time here at the WSOP.
Ninth Place: Little-Little-Little -- $10,724 Larry Little enjoyed his third series cash / Rita Little cashed for the second time / Their son, Jonathan Little, the poker pro and author, cashed for the 35th time in his career at the WSOP.
This was the 61st official event on this year’s schedule. This leaves just 8 gold bracelet events still to go in what promises to be the biggest and most exciting WSOP ever.
EVENT DIRECT LINKS:
For this event’s official final results (listing all players who finished in-the-money), please visit:
For Ryan Fee’s official player profile page, please visit:
For Doug Polk’s official player profile page, please visit:
For the live reporting logs for this event, please visit:
To access licensed images from this all other 2016 WSOP gold bracelet events, please visit:
For the live stream archive of this event, please visit:
(Note: Will appear 48 hours after event concludes)