Doug Polk explains insane laydown against Phil Hellmuth

doug polk phil hellmuth
Jon Sofen
Posted on: March 26, 2021 10:31 PDT

Doug Polk made an unbelievable fold against Phil Hellmuth in a recent "High Stakes Poker" episode. The laydown was so incredible that commentator A.J. Benza referred to it as the "best laydown in the history of 'High Stakes Poker'."

The Upswing Poker founder spoke with the Poker King YouTube channel to discuss how on earth he found it in him to fold a flopped straight, somehow knowing Hellmuth had the only hand that could beat him.

Making the impossible fold

In the aforementioned hand, the flop came out J-8-9. Both players had a straight, but Hellmuth's Q-10 was the nuts (Polk had 10-7). James Bord bet out $2,000 with a pair of deuces, for some odd reason. Polk then raised to $7,000.

The action was then on Hellmuth, who had $97,000 left in his stack (Polk had him covered). The "Poker Brat" had an interesting decision to make in this spot. He could just smooth call and slowplay his hand, which is often the play of choice. Or, he could put in a raise and make those who were drawing to a flush or had top pair pay.

Hellmuth determined that his best play was to shove all-in, about 14 times the size of Polk's bet. Bord, without hesitation, mucked his mediocre hand, which left a seemingly easy snap-call for Polk to make, except he didn't snap-call like nearly every other poker player would have done.

Instead, the three-time WSOP bracelet winner gave it some thought. He was losing to just one hand, and the chances of being up against exactly Q-10 are slim, especially considering Polk had one of the four 10's in his hand.

"The 10-7 hand versus Phil Hellmuth was one of, if not my favorite ever TV poker hands I've played," Polk said in the video. "And I lost $10,000, which you don't often say when you lose $10,000."

Polk then analyzed the hand from start to finish.

"The button folds, it's back to me," he explains. "I look over at Phil, I say, 'I'm pretty sure I'm calling but let's just see what the chips are."

He then looked over Hellmuth's stack to find out just how big of a raise he was facing. Polk said Hellmuth had a "little more than I thought." So, his decision to call wasn't so easy.

"This is a tough spot," the Upswing Poker founder said. "Versus a lot of players, you might just have to call, they can have too many things, they're too wild and crazy. But Phil Hellmuth isn't. Phil Hellmuth is someone that prides himself on not getting stacked ever by anything, especially if he's behind."

As Polk pondered his move, he began to realize that Hellmuth, given his table image, likely wouldn't have shoved with anything other than the stone-cold nuts. So, even though GTO strategy says that's a snap-call especially given Polk had a Q-10 blocker, he realized he just had to be up against the nuts, and he was correct.

Polk mucked his cards face-up and was criticized by Brandon Steven for folding. But Polk ended up getting the last laugh when the "High Stakes Poker" episode aired on PokerGO and he found out he made the correct fold.

Featured image source: PokerGO