doug vs elky at the wsop

A 3.7 Million Dollar River Card at the WSOP (Hand Analysis)

It’s the 2017 WSOP One Drop final table and just two players remain.

The $3,686,865 up top is going to either Upswing Poker’s own Doug Polk or high stakes pro Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier. 

Doug is sitting on a stack of 37.6 million chips (47bb) while Elky has 27.4 million chips (34bb). Doug is on the button and posts the small blind of 400k and Elky posts the 800k big blind. 

(Note: the stream of this final table mistakenly showed the blinds at 300k/600k.)

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Doug is dealt Q♣ J and opens the action with a raise to 1.9 million. ElkY defends his big blind with J♠ T♣. The pot is 4 million.

Preflop Analysis

Both of these actions are standard. 

It is worth noting that both players are going to be playing extremely wide ranges in this spot. Doug will be playing 70% or more (possibly much more) of his hands at these stack depths. This means Elky must defend his blind with a majority of his holdings as well, especially considering his great pot odds.

Doug would generally raise to closer the minimum in a standard heads-up match, but this is a tournament with a 100k ante posted by each player. These antes juice the pot and compel Doug to raise to a slightly larger size (~2.4bb).

If this tournament had a big blind ante, there would be an extra 600k in the pot and Doug would adjust by raising even larger.


The flop is dealt J♣ T♠ 4. ElkY checks to Doug who continuation bets 2 million chips. ElkY check-raises to 6.2 million and Doug calls.

Flop Analysis

Doug will c-bet with a very wide range on this board. These sorts of high boards are advantageous for him. Top pair good kicker is, of course, apart of that range and an excellent hand with which to value bet. ElkY is going to have to call with many worse hands considering his range and pot odds.

ElkY’s decision is a bit more interesting. His hand blocks a lot of Doug’s continuing range (like AJ, KJ, and QJ), so you could make a case to slow-play. However, Doug still has a number of other hands with decent equity against top two pair that will call.

Check-raising has a couple potential benefits:

  1. It either makes Doug pay to see the turn with his hands that have equity versus top two pair, or
  2. makes Doug surrender his equity by folding.

Both of these are great for ElkY and make check-raising the preferred play here.

Doug’s call against the check-raise is also standard. ElkY has a ton of draws in his range with which he could be check-raising, and Doug’s holding is simply too high in his range to consider folding.

All in all, both players played the flop well. On to the turn.


The dealer turns the 8, making the board J♣ T♠ 4 8. The pot is 16.45 million chips.

ElkY bets 8.8 million (leaving just over 10 million chips behind) and Doug makes the call.

Turn Analysis

ElkY still has a very strong hand that wants to get value from his opponent, so his bet is standard. With only ~1.1 pot sized bets behind, he could opt for a shove, but he decides to go for a non-all-in bet worth around 60% of the pot. Shoving would be a more theoretically sound play.

Doug is put in a tough spot. He does have some better hands in his range to continue with. However, if he only calls with his two pairs, sets, and straights, he will be over-folding significantly. Doing so would only make sense if ElkY rarely bluffs in this spot, which is possible, but unlikely considering ElkY’s background as a successful online player.

This means Doug has to continue with some of his one pair hands. The question is which are the best to do so?

This is a situation where it’s very unlikely ElkY has a better one pair hand. He either has two pair or better, or a bluff. 

In situations where your opponent either has you crushed or is bluffing, the absolute value of your hand matters much less than the removal and equity of your hand. 

In this case Doug could have pocket AA or KK, which are better hands than his QJ in terms of absolute strength. However, QJ is a preferable call to those overpairs for two reasons:

  1. Blockers. Doug having a queen makes it less likely ElkY has Q9 for a straight. Similarly, his jack decreases the odds of ElkY having two pair. 
  2. Backup equity. Even if he’s behind, Doug’s QJ has a gutshot straight draw.

These two factors make QJ one of the best possible one pair hands to continue with.

So, while it isn’t a great situation for him, Doug’s call is correct.


The river brings the Q making the final board J♣ T♠ 4 8 Q. The pot is 34 million chips and ElkY decides to check.


Doug checks back on the river and scoops the pot with his superior two pair. He went on to win the tournament, which was recorded for a vlog on his YouTube channel (watch that vlog here).

Do you think Doug should have shoved all-in for value on the river?

And would you have played this hand differently in either players’ shoes?

Let us know in the comments!

If you’re ready for another tournament hand review, read When a WSOP Champ Called All-In with Ten-High.

Prepare for more deep runs by checking out our tournament masterclass Road to Victory. Get access now.


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Ernest Gorham

Ernest Gorham

California bred writer and poker player you can now find frequenting the London MTT scene.

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