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Retired Poker Great Doug Polk Launches Effort To Recall Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman

Illustration for article titled Retired Poker Great Doug Polk Launches Effort To Recall Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman

The campaign to recall Las Vegas Mayor Caroline Goodman is officially underway.

You’ll remember that Goodman gave a cringe-worthy interview to Anderson Cooper in April in which she showed an alarming lack of concern for public safety amidst a global pandemic and doubled down on an earlier interview that the shutdown of Nevada ordered by Governor Steve Sisolak was “total insanity.”


Goodman’s comment to Cooper that she had offered up her city as “a control group” for coronavirus really set off poker pro Doug Polk, who then started his effort to recall the mayor.

On Wednesday, he got the required signatures to file a notice of intent to start a recall petition with the city clerk.

“I don’t want to recall the mayor just because she wants to re-open Las Vegas,” Polk explained in a statement. “She also cares more about the ‘sensitive’ casino owners interests than the people of Las Vegas. Additionally, she was unable to maintain a conversation with functional sentences. She is unfit for office.”

Polk is one of the true bosses of online poker, moving up the ranks when he started crushing heads-up no-limit hold’em games around 2013. He also branched out into live tournament play, winning $9.4M and three WSOP bracelets. Looking to find revenue streams beyond playing, he started a poker training site called Upswing Poker and began making YouTube content. Earlier this year, he announced he would stop making poker videos and would focus on content focused on more mainstream topics like breaking news analysis, politics and pop culture.

In a video Polk released on Thursday, he breaks down “Corona” Carolyn’s CNN interview in clear, logical terms, eviscerating her for what he rightfully considers her poor judgment and nonsensical arguments. He tells a personal story about his family’s history in Nevada, and how his grandfather worked at nuclear test facilities in the state. He never got to meet his grandfather, who died in his early 30s due to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but the state denied any responsibility.

Goodman referenced this in talking to Cooper, saying that Nevada residents were told they’d be fine, “just take a shower” while nuclear testing went on in the 1950s. Polk points out that this undermines her case and is “the worst possible analogy.”


Now, Polk needs to get 25 percent of the voters who cast ballots in last year’s mayoral election to sign his petition. That means he’ll need 6,745 signatures. It seems like it’ll be tall order to collect signatures, what with quarantine going on and all. Polk admits he’s not a favorite to get this done.

“No doubt about it,” Polk told Deadspin. “But there’s some stuff that’s kinda working in our favor. We just start with the overall sentiment of the people of Las Vegas. Some early polling data on the approval rating of the mayor is extremely low. Both Goodman and her husband (Oscar Goodman) have always had such high approval ratings. She won her primary by 83 percent of the vote or something outrageous. There’s a lot of upset people here.”


Oscar Goodman was mayor of Las Vegas from 1999 to 2011, and his wife succeeded him. According to Polk, it’s the only case of a spouse replacing spouse as mayor in a major American city. The background on the Goodmans is a fascinating story, incidentally, as Oscar was an attorney for notorious Tony Spilotro, a Chicago Mafia enforcer who inspired Joe Pesci’s murderous character Nicky Santoro in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film “Casino.”


Goodman responded on Twitter, saying, “This is America. That’s his choice.”

Goodman identifies as an independent, but Polk points out that she’s more of a Democrat historically. But her position on reopening Las Vegas has been supported more by Republicans.


“I guess the main point is most of her base is upset with her. It gives us room to get people who care to do something about it.”

Polk says he’s encouraged by the response so far, and as of Saturday has had 600 people contacting him about the effort, with some people offering to donate money to the cause. “Frankly, I just assumed I was going to waste my own money, but maybe that can help us too.”


Polk concluded his video humorously by stating he would run as “Not Carolyn Goodman.”

“My pledge to you at home today, is to do absolutely nothing. Because nothing is better than Carolyn Goodman for mayor. It wouldn’t kill you to not vote Carolyn Goodman. Literally. You’re less likely to die.”


While it’s easy to see a possible political future for Polk, he actually lives in nearby Henderson, not Las Vegas, and it doesn’t seem like he’s really looking to get into politics or play kingmaker — yet. As of now, he doesn’t have a candidate to oppose Goodman.

“I think down the road it’s something I’m planning on doing,” Polk said. “I’m trying to keep this very narrowly focused right now on the recall of the mayor. I heard a couple people who are potential candidates. No one who wanted to publicly state it at this point. I’m sure we can find someone better, it’s a very low bar.”


“If we pull off getting the recall election, I have a feeling she’s not going to win.”

Polk has set up a site, LVRecall, to send voters recall kits and for non-voters to help out. Residents with questions can email As he points out, “I’m a retired poker player with a lot of time.”


As for poker, Polk was way ahead of the curve in February when he started taking action on the summer WSOP being canceled, getting 20-1. Deadspin called for the WSOP to be canceled in March, and it was finally postponed on April 21.

“People thought I was an idiot. I got several people to take (the bet).

“I think that eventually we will see live poker return,” Polk said. “Live poker is really tough with COVID because you’re sharing chips and cards and passing it around. It’s not a very hygienic game.”


There’s a lesson to be learned here: Don’t bet against Doug Polk.

Managing editor. Former N.Y. Daily Newser. Former broke poker player.