He followed up a first-day victory over compatriot Tommy Fleetwood with a gutsy 2&1 win against American Daniel Berger to put his fate in his own hands at Austin Country Club.
Poulter can secure his place in the last 16 over the weekend with a win over Kevin Chappell in his last group match today before the tournament moves to a straight match play format over the weekend.
“It was definitely an improved performance,” he said of his second-day success. “I made many more birdies today than yesterday.
“Daniel is a tough cookie, I know that from watching Presidents Cup. He hates to lose. So I knew that going out today it was always going to be a tough match.
“Obviously another win is great and I hope to do the same tomorrow.”
Poulter, of course, inspired Europe’s ‘Mircale at Medinah’ in 2012 and he is desperate to play in this year’s Ryder Cup in France.
“This is my favourite form of golf,” he added. “It’s the purest form of golf. I feel comfortable in this format. I love it. It gets the adrenaline going early, and there’s nothing better.
“There’s a lot of motivation this week for me. 2018 is a Ryder Cup year. I know if I win several matches this week then I’m going to put myself in a rather nice position on that table.”
After his opening-day defeat, Rory McIlroy got back into contention following his 2&1 win over Jhonattan Vegas.
With Peter Uihlein – the man who defeated McIlroy on day one – losing to Brian Harman, McIlroy can advance by defeating Harman toiday to at least guarantee a play-off to reach the last 16.
“I have got a chance tomorrow,” said McIlroy. “I’m looking forward to the match (against Harman) and at least I have given myself a chance to progress.”
In addition to Poulter, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Francesco Molinari and Alex Noren all have 100 per cent records after the opening two days.
But world No 1 Dustin Johnson is set to make an early exit after he lost to Canadian Adam Hadwin, having already succumbed to Austrian Bernd Wiesberger on Wednesday.