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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Ohio: Doug Carli, the Best Player You've Never Heard Of

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The best player you've never heard has more WSOP Circuit cashes than any other player in poker, as well as a WSOP Final Table in each of the last two years. He's also a walking anachronism, happily married to his high school sweetheart who goes deep in tournaments just for the fun of it.

Doug Carli grew up in Alliance, Ohio and has never left. He played baseball at Mount Union College in Alliance. The Purple Raiders are known for taking nine NCAA Division III football national championships. "I'm a typical former athlete, very competitive," said Doug. He learned poker as a boy, playing stud with his father and older brothers. "They always took my pocket change, and I'd run upstairs and cry," he said with a laugh.

After leaving college, he worked as an accountant then opened a discount brokerage. He played poker regularly in the area but then quit playing in 2000. "I did so well in the market that I was able to retire before the bubble burst," Doug said. Once he saw the explosion of poker, he decided to enter the fray again in 2005.

"I finished 3rd in my first tournament, a WSOP Circuit Event in Atlantic City," Doug said. "I've never had to play to make money, and I've always had a lot of success in tournaments. I've avoided the big hit to my bankroll as well." Doug finished 23rd in CardPlayer's Player of the Year rankings in his first year with fourteen Final Tables.

He's also had success at the World Series of Poker, but the big win has eluded him so far. "Last year's Final Table (in the $5k NLH) was probably the most disappointing I've ever had. I came in with average chips, which is fine for me. Vinnie Vinh was the massive chip leader, and he raised almost every pot. He also defended his raises aggressively, so you had to have a hand to play back at him. I just never was able to get anything. His key hand he made it 40k, then Luske went all-in for 470k with A-10o, and Vinh called with KQs." An ace spiked and crippled Vinh, who went out in 8th. Doug took home $116,936, but he had his eye on the bracelet and the $818,546 top prize.

Doug and his wife Karen now travel all over the United States to see the country and play poker. "Karen and I combine sightseeing and travel with poker," he said. "Most of the time, I play in early events as well as the Circuit Main Event. Most of the pros just come in for the Main Event, but I just don't see traveling that far just to play in one event." He has cashed at WSOP Circuit events from Atlantic city to Tunica to Indiana and Iowa.

It is unusual to find strong marriages in poker, but Doug and Karen are inseparable. "Well, we truly like each other," Doug said. "I think it's helped that I normally play well below my bankroll. We've done well enough in the market and poker to play in Bobby's Room at the Bellagio, but why would I do that? Maybe I could beat that game, maybe not, but I know I can do better playing elsewhere."

Doug follows one fundamental tenet when it comes to tournament poker. "I tell anyone that asks the same thing: you can't win a tournament early. 60% of the field is gone after two levels, so I try not to do too many bad things early."

He's already cashed three times at this year's WSOP including a Final Table in the $2k Seven Card Stud Eight or Better (3rd $61,880). "I started out great the first ten days, but it's been a bad few events lately. I've had well above average chips several times but I've lost with kings five times vs ace-rag."

Doug and Karen saw Evan Almighty Sunday evening. "It was fine, but we're not too picky when it comes to movies. Anything with some popcorn in front of us is fine."

He looked over at Karen, and it was easy to understand that the movie and popcorn were afterthoughts. He saw his high school sweetheart smiling at him, and she was what made movies and the poker grind an enjoyable experience. That and being one of the most consistent cash performers in poker.

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