Doug Polk Explains Why He Folded Flopped Straight to Phil Hellmuth on ‘High Stakes Poker’

Doug Polk made a crazy but accurate fold against Phil Hellmuth in a recent High Stakes Poker episode; perhaps the greatest fold in the show’s history. He explained how he ended up making the difficult but correct play in a Poker Kings video on YouTube.

doug polk phil hellmuth

Doug Polk proved once again why he’s one of the best ever on his brief High Stakes Poker stint. (Image: Poker Central)

The reboot season of High Stakes Poker concluded last Wednesday with another exciting episode. Throughout the season, fans of the iconic poker cash game show were treated to numerous monster pots, big bluffs, and great plays. Tom Dwan was the star of the show throughout much of the season just like he was back in the day when the show aired on the Game Show Network.

But Polk made arguably the best play of the season, and perhaps in the show’s eight-season history, in a hand he didn’t even win. In the hand in question (PokerGO video below), both Hellmuth and Polk flopped a straight on a J-9-8 flop with two spades. Polk had the 10-7 for a straight, but was coolered by Hellmuth’s Q-10.

James Bord, holding pocket deuces, made an odd lead for $2,000 on that flop. Polk then raised to $7,000 before Hellmuth shoved all-in for $97,000. Bord, of course, had an easy decision to fold, but Polk’s wasn’t so simple. Only one hand beat his straight, and Hellmuth’s massive raise was rather strange. After tanking for a few minutes, he came to the conclusion the only hand his opponent could have in that spot was the Q-10, so he made what High Stakes Poker commentator AJ Benza referred to as “the best fold” in show history.

“Doug Polk is one of the few people on the planet that would have folded there,” Gabe Kaplan said.

Why Polk folded

Folding a straight on a non-paired, non-monotone flop isn’t easy, even for the best players in the world. In that spot, most players snap-call and then just accept the fact they’re about to lose a cooler. But not the Upswing Poker founder. Polk explained his decision in a recent video on the Poker Kings YouTube channel.

He first explains that he initially intended to call before realizing Hellmuth’s stack size was bigger than he realized (almost $100,000). If his stack was smaller, he likely would have been forced to call. Instead of snap-calling, he thought hard about the situation he was facing. Would Hellmuth really bluff off his stack or shove so big with something like two-pair or a flush draw?

“Versus a lot of players, you might just have to call, they can just have too many things, they’re too wild, they’re too crazy, but Phil Hellmuth isn’t,” Polk explained. “Phil Hellmuth is someone that prides himself on not getting stacked by anyone ever with anything, especially if he’s behind.”

Hellmuth’s image worked against him in this hand, as Polk explains. If he was up against an aggressive player like Tom Dwan, Polk would have beat Dwan into the pot. But Hellmuth isn’t known to make crazy plays like that on a bluff or even a set. The recent $1.2 million winner against Daniel Negreanu found some additional enjoyment out of making that fold.

“Also, it was nice because it tilted the f**k out of Phil afterwards,” Polk joked. “After the fold, he just couldn’t let it go. First, he told me it was the best fold he’s seen in months, then it was a year, then it was two years, then it was three years, and it kept getting progressively longer.”

Written by
Jon Sofen
Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.


belladonna05 wrote...

I wonder what his GTO solvers would have said to do in this situation 😀


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