Whispers of a notable hand involving Doug Polk have been circulating ever since his high-stakes grudge match vs. Daniel Negreanu started last fall. Although Polk had “retired” from poker, he came back to score a cool $1.2 million. During live streams of the match, commentator Jamie Kerstetter alluded to a big hand Doug played during PokerGo’s reboot of High Stakes Poker, but refused to give any details.
We finally got to see it this week, and it was a doozy.
With blinds of $200/$400, Phil Hellmuth raised $1,100 with Queen-Ten offsuit. James Bord called on the button with 22, and Polk called in the small blind with Ten diamonds 7 clubs.
The flop came, J spades 9 spades 8 diamonds. Polk flopped a straight, but he was behind Hellmuth’s higher straight. Both Polk and Hellmuth checked, giving Bord a chance to bluff, and he obliged, stabbing with a bet of $2,000. Polk raised to $7,000, a solid play given the strength of his hand. But he was stunned when Hellmuth promptly went all in for $97,000. Bets that are eight times the pot are exceedingly rare in deep-stacked cash games.
“Doug’s gotta call,” commentator Gabe Kaplan said repeatedly. “Since Phil raised before the flop, I’d probably put him on a set.”
“This is insane,” Polk said, as he pondered a stupendous fold.
“There’s no way he can put Phil on Queen-Ten,” Kaplan said.
In the poker world, Polk is well known as a “calling station,” he doesn’t like to fold good hands. That’s because at the stakes Polk plays, the competition is good enough that they will always have some semblance of balance, including bluffs in their range at all times. Polk has even made YouTube videos criticizing people for making huge folds.
But Phil Hellmuth is a tournament player and often considered an easy mark among the high-stakes sharks. He also gave it away by talking about it.
Polk turned his hand over.
“I could easily have...” Hellmuth said.
“What can you EASILY HAVE?” Polk snapped back.
“I could have a set,” Hellmuth said.
“Could you though?”
Polk laid it down, and Hellmuth was sheepish, refusing to show his hand.
Kaplan referred to it as “the greatest laydown we’ve ever seen on High Stakes Poker.”‘