In our ‘Online poker legends: Where are they now?’ series, we’re going to look back at the storied careers of the virtual felt trailblazers, and take a peek at what they’re up to today.
This doctor didn’t treat sick patients. He treated his opponents to sick plays and amassed millions in the process.
David Sands, better known as Doc Sands, was one of the best tournament players of his generation and has a stacked resume to prove it. With more than $3 million in online earnings and almost $8.5 million won on the live felt, Sands left a big impression on the poker world before “retiring” in 2014.
So, what’s he up to now? Let’s find out. But first, we’ll go back to where it all began.
Sands began playing poker in the mid-2000s while studying for a Government Major at Hamilton College in New York State. A hard worker in both his academic studies and poker play, Sands amassed a healthy bankroll before he graduated.
“I really did enjoy college, and I enjoyed academia, I enjoyed writing my honors thesis, I enjoyed a lot of the academic parts of Hamilton. I think if I hadn’t been enjoying it, I would have dropped out and just played poker full time, but I was having a good time,” he said.
Mixing his play between online tournaments and games at the Turning Stone Casino–where many of poker’s best young players cut their teeth–Sands turned pro when he was finished at school and in 2008 he enjoyed his best year yet.
In September of that year, Sands won the Ultimate Bet $200K Gtd for $45,000 and the Absolute Poker $150K Gtd for $37,500 on back-to-back days. He followed that up with a $133,000 victory in the Full Tilt $750 Gtd and showed no signs of slowing down moving into 2009.
Here’s a look at just some of the biggest scores Sands recorded throughout 2009:
1st – $300 FTOPS event (Full Tilt) – $259,440
1st – Sunday $500 (PokerStars) – $90,097
1st – $1K Monday (PokerStars) – $89,250
1st – $200 Sunday Mulligan (Full Tilt) – $53,020
3rd – $215 Sunday Warm-Up (PokerStars) – $52,392
1st – $100 Re-Buy (Full Tilt) – $47,275
1st – $215 Cereus – $45,000
7th – $2,100 SCOOP (PokerStars) – $44,640
1st – $215 Re-Buy (PokerStars) – $43,952
It’s no surprise that by 2010, Sands was ranked as the No. 1 online tournament player in the world on PocketFives.
He then turned his attention to live tournaments and travelled the high roller circuit for several years. At the 2011 WSOP Main Event, Sands ran deep and cashed for $242,636 after finishing 30th. In December, he took down a $5K Doyle Brunson Classic for $158,644 and followed that up with a runner-up finish in the $100K High Roller for $644,027. A couple of months later he recorded his biggest cash to date when he finished second in the $10K LA Poker Classic for $806,370.
But the two largest cashes of his career came in 2013. First, he finished second to Scott Seiver in the $100K Super High Roller at the PCA, good for $1,259,320. Then he took down a $100K WPT Super High Roller title for $1,023,750.
Sands gained a reputation as one of the toughest regs on the tour. But during this incredible run, he also gained a reputation as one of the slowest players on the circuit, often taking several minutes to act. This was long before the introduction of shot clocks.
In a Twoplustwo thread, one user asked how Sands got the name ‘Doc’. The best response?
“It feels like you are in a waiting room when he is playing a hand.”
By 2014, Sands considered putting poker on the backburner in order to apply for Stanford’s MBA program. But then he was offered a job at a hedge fund in Palo Alto, working for someone he’d met through poker.
He took the job and disappeared from the poker spotlight.
Where is he now?
After a few years working at the hedge fund, Sands realized that working in an office and having a boss wasn’t for him.
“So these days I play some poker, I do a lot of my own investing, my own public-market investing. I also do a lot of real estate investing,” he said.
Sands is now a cash game regular in Las Vegas where he lives with his wife, Erika Moutinho, and their two children. He was most recently seen on Poker Night in America battling against the likes of Phil Hellmuth.
“The thing I’m most grateful for with poker is that I genuinely love to do it,” he said. “And that reminds me how fortunate I am to have been able to achieve financial success and independence through something that I genuinely love. I think that’s, unfortunately, not as common as it should be in our society.”
More in this series:
Online poker legends: Where are they now? – Steve ‘Gboro780’ Gross
Online poker legends: Where are they now? – Adam ‘Roothlus’ Levy