Phil Hellmuth and Doug Polk talk GTO, WSOP and more on Doug Polk Podcast

Phil Hellmuth Doug Polk
Dave Consolazio Poker Writer Photo
Dave Consolazio
Posted on: August 16, 2021 16:03 PDT

Doug Polk launched a podcast last month that has already put out some fantastic content. Polk has had Bill Perkins on to go over his heads-up challenge win against Landon Tice. He has interviewed Jason Les (the CEO of Riot Blockchain) to talk about Bitcoin. Finally, Polk spoke with Daniel Negreanu about their heads-up match and newfound friendship. In yet another coup, Polk added a fourth big name to his already impressive string of guests on Monday in an interview with Phil Hellmuth.

The conversation lasted for just under two hours and can be viewed in its entirety on the Doug Polk Podcast channel on YouTube. Polk’s interview style worked well with Hellmuth’s willingness to discuss a variety of topics. The podcast host wasn’t afraid to push back on certain points, but for the most part avoided arguing and let Hellmuth speak and articulate his points. Here are just a few highlights from their discussion.

How Hellmuth believes he can beat GTO poker

Polk asked Hellmuth if he was familiar with solver outputs. Hellmuth went on to tell a story about how he once studied game theory optimal (GTO) poker for a couple of hours, and was able to carry what he learned into a victory in the very next tournament he played in. Not by playing GTO, but by using his opponent’s strategies against them.

“It was the first time I realized that they were floating me on every flop,” Hellmuth explained. “And I was laying down a lot of those hands. And I’m like, alright, these guys are going to float me every flop, I’m going to bomb every turn.”

Hellmuth admits that it’s a funny story and that there was luck involved in the fact that he won a tournament the day after studying GTO for two hours. But he insists that it made his opponents easier to read.

Public perception of Hellmuth’s skills

Doug Polk talked about how poker would eventually be completely solved by computers. He asked Hellmuth where his game would stand in a world where that was the case. Hellmuth insisted that he would always be able to use his reading abilities to gain the upper hand. As the conversation continued into Hellmuth’s surprising folds with king-jack and ace-jack on High Stakes Duel, Hellmuth lamented the fact the he doesn’t get credit from the new generation even when he is right on these decisions.

“No one on the planet in your generation understands that play. There’s a disconnect here,” Hellmuth said. “I’m either a delusional old idiot, or maybe I’m seeing some stuff that the rest of the world doesn’t see.”

When Polk started to say that both of those were possibilities, Hellmuth pressed that they were the only two possibilities. That either he is the luckiest player in the world by a mile to consistently win playing “sub-optimal” poker, or that his reading abilities were not understood by younger players.

Is Phil Hellmuth “reasonable”?

Polk and Hellmuth had a funny debate on whether or not Hellmuth was a “reasonable” person. The term is difficult to define, and Hellmuth conceded that he can certainly be unreasonable at the poker table. But he insisted that he was a reasonable person away from the table.

“There are some tweets that are a little bit unreasonable,” Polk said with a chuckle. “When I think you your name, [reasonable] isn’t the first thing I think of.”

A twitter poll on the topic has been split almost right down the middle since the podcast went live.

Hellmuth on WSOP happening among COVID-19 crisis

Phil Hellmuth had a calculated response to Polk’s question about how the current WSOP guidelines on COVID-19 would affect vaccinated and un-vaccinated players. “For me personally, I got vaccinated as soon as I possibly could. But I would never tell someone else to get vaccinated.”

Hellmuth went on to say that free rapid-testing should be readily available on site and provided by the WSOP. He said that he personally would pull out of a tournament if he felt sick and would be responsible and get tested for COVID-19, but he won’t be expecting other players to do the same.

These highlights just scratch the surface of the full conversation. The podcast is well worth a listen in its entirety for anyone interested in what’s going on in Phil Hellmuth’s unique mind. As Polk says during the interview, “there’s only one Phil Hellmuth.”

Featured Image Credit: Flickr - World Poker Tour