Doug Polk Lets a Flip Decide His Fate in a Six Figure Pot

doug polk lets fate decide

5 minutes

Last Updated: May 19, 2024

Some poker hands are pretty straightforward from start to finish, with cards dictating all the action. Some, on the other hand, tend to get unexpectedly messy and complicated.

The hand we’ll look at today certainly belongs to the latter category. It features the heads-up legend Doug Polk and one of the Lodge Poker Club regulars, Taras.

Blinds are $200/$400, and Doug straddled for $800. Taras is the effective stack, with $270,000 in his stack, so there is a potential for a massive pot developing.

Preflop Action

The hand begins with Taras opening to $2,000 from the hijack with 22. Everybody folds to Polk, who finds 88 in the straddle and decides to 3-bet for $10,000.

Taras wastes no time calling in position with his small pocket pair, so the two proceed to the flop with $21,000 in the middle.

Preflop Play Analysis

The action before the flop is fairly standard here. Taras opens from a late position, which he will do with a variety of hands and all pocket pairs.

When it gets to Doug, he has a decision between calling and 3-betting. With pocket 8s, he’ll often call, but it is a hand that wants to 3-bet some of the time, and with stacks being so deep, there is more incentive to go for an aggressive route, so that’s what he does.

doug polk vs taras in a big pot
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Flop Action

The flop is 247, giving Taras the bottom set, while Polk’s 8s are an over-pair to the board. Doug continues with a c-bet of $7,000, which is a third-pot bet, as he’ll do most of the time in a 3-bet pot.

After a few moments, Taras decides he wants to get more money into the pot right now and goes for a raise to $22,000. Polk thinks it over and makes the call, creating the pot of $65,000.

Flop Play Analysis

After 3-betting preflop and flopping an over-pair to the board, Doug certainly likes the situation. He would continue betting with most of his hands here anyway, but having a favorable flop always helps.

The sizing is fairly standard in 3-bet pots. The flop bet is usually on the smaller side, and while there are some draws available, Doug is holding two key blockers, and one of them is also a club.

Taras could certainly just call with a set, and that’s a more common approach to these spots. However, he’ll certainly be raising with some combo draws on this board, so he wants to do it with some of his strong hands as well.

The bottom set is perfect to do this with, as it doesn’t prevent the opponent from connecting with the board in the event Polk decided to take an aggressive route with suited connectors.

For Polk, calling is the only option. Because Taras can have many draws, folding is out of the question at this juncture and raising would be turning his hand into a bluff.

Turn Action

The turn comes 9, which doesn’t change the board texture that much, but it does mean Polk no longer has the over-pair, with the board reading 2479.

Polk checks, and Taras, surprisingly, follows suit and checks behind. With no money going in on this street, the pot remains $65,000.

Turn Play Analysis

The 9 didn’t help Doug’s hand in any way, so he has no reason to do anything else but check to the aggressor.

With a bottom set, Taras should be betting here, as his hand is very strong but still vulnerable. By checking behind, he allows Doug to see a free card and complete his potential draws at no cost. 

There are situations where slow playing is warranted, but this dynamic board is probably not the best one to do it on.

taras vs polk lodge

River Action

The river is 10, so the full runout is 247910. Polk checks once again, looking to get his hand to a showdown.

Taras goes for a bet this time, and it’s a big one, as he fires for $90,000 into a $65,000 pot. With $155k in the middle, Doug isn’t getting the great pot odds with a pure bluff catcher, but he struggles to find the fold button.

After taking a while, Polk simply can’t make up his mind, so he lets the luck decide his fate. He shuffles his hole cards, announcing that he’ll turn over one of them, and if it is 8, he’ll call. If he turns over 8, he’ll fold.

At this point, Taras turns over his hand, and Polk sees the bad news, so he’s now rooting for the 8. Another player at the table ends up picking the card, and, luckily for Doug, it is a club, so he saves $90k.

River Play Analysis

With another over-card coming on the river, Polk has no other option but to check and hope to get his hand to a showdown without putting any additional money in the pot.

After two checks from Doug, Taras is confident he has the best hand, so he bets. However, since he skipped on the turn bet, the pot isn’t as big as he’d like, so he comes up with a pretty substantial over-bet, firing $90k into $65k.

At this point, it seems like a pretty easy fold for Doug, but there are a couple of things making it harder.

First of all, Taras checked on the turn, which makes it less likely has a set. While that’s exactly what he has in this instance, checking back the turn is such a non-standard play that Doug pretty much removes it from his range.

Secondly, Polk holds two eights, and one of them is a club, which removes a fair portion of combo draws that could have taken the aggressive route on the flop. With these blockers, he knows Taras doesn’t have a hand like 86 or J8, both of which make a straight on the river.

Of course, Taras could still have other flush draws that backed into a top pair or two pair, and there is always a small possibility of a non-standard line with a set.

With all these factors in play, Doug decides that it’s one of those situations where neither decision is significantly better, so he randomizes. 

He does it in an entertaining way to keep the game fun, but a lot of poker players will use some form of randomization to make up their minds in close spots, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

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