Did Doug Polk make the greatest fold in High Stakes Poker history?

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 03/04/2021

Wednesday’s episode ends with Polk making a huge, correct fold against Phil Hellmuth

The latest chapter in Season 8 on High Stakes Poker finished up with a hand that commentator Gabe Kaplan called “the best laydown we’ve ever had on High Stakes Poker.”

Kaplan’s seen a lot through his years as one of the voices of the show and bestowed his “best laydown” accolade on Doug Polk Wednesday night. Polk entered the High Stakes Poker Season 8 lineup for the first time Wednesday, and the latest player rotation gives us the most intriguing lineup yet on the PokerGO revival of the iconic poker show.

Polk ends up with a big decision in a $110,100 pot against Phil Hellmuth, and in a spot that might seem like a snap call, Polk instead goes deep into the tank. The hand plays out as one of the most bizarre in High Stakes Poker history, complete with other players betting on the outcome while the hand was still in progress.

Nuts vs. second nuts

The hand begins with Hellmuth raising to $1,100 from early position with Q♠T in the $200/$400 game. James Bord calls in position with 22♣, and Polk calls from the big blind with T7♣.

The flop comes J♠9♠8, bringing in a straight for both Polk and Hellmuth. Hellmuth’s queen-high straight gives him the nuts, and it appears Polk is headed for disaster with the inferior end of the straight.

The action checks to Bord, who bets $2,000. Polk raises to $7,000, putting the action on Hellmuth.

Hellmuth decides to go all-in, putting a $97,200 overbet into the $12,900 pot. Bord folds and Polk asks for a count on Hellmuth’s bet.

“This is insane,” says a smiling Polk, clearly not interested in paying off Hellmuth with an instant call. Polk agonizes over the decision while Kaplan contends that Polk has to call in this spot.

Can Polk make an all-time great fold against Hellmuth?

Polk doesn’t call though, instead asking Hellmuth what he’s holding. Bord, Jake Daniels, and Brandon Steven start openly discussing and betting on the result of the hand, drawing the ire of Kaplan and A.J. Benza on commentary.

“I’m considering making a very big laydown here,” Polk tells Hellmuth. “A very, very big laydown.”

“I could easily have…,” Hellmuth replies, with Polk interrupting with “What could you easily have?” Hellmuth offers that he could hold a set, blockers, or A♠T♠ in this spot.

Polk doubts all of those hands, however.

“I think I’m either dead, and I think I’m dead a lot given this, or you have like a ton of equity against me,” Polk says.

Polk then turns over his hand, and the players at the table involved in side bets start paying each other off. That distracts Polk for a few seconds, once again prompting Kaplan and Benza to chastise that behavior from players not in the hand.

Eventually, Polk decides to fold, in a move that had to make Hellmuth hurt. Hellmuth doesn’t show his hand at the time, but High Stakes Poker viewers now know exactly how good Polk’s read was against the Poker Hall of Famer Hellmuth.

Only two more episodes remain in Season 8. Wednesday’s lineup also included Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey, but Ivey left early in the episode due to not feeling well.

John Andress replaced Ivey for the remainder of the episode. Whether Ivey returns is still a mystery, but the final two High Stakes Poker episodes for Season 8 should make for must-see poker television.

Featured image source: PokerGO