taras vs doug

Doug Polk’s Funniest Poker Hand of 2023 (Analysis)

Most of Doug Polk’s live stream appearances showcase high-level strategy…

…but today we are going to be looking at something a little different.

The hand in question took place between Doug and a player named Taras. (These two have a ton of history against each other playing on The Lodge Card Club’s live stream.)

This is one the funniest hands that I’ve ever seen, but there’s also a great lesson to be learned from it.

The blinds are $25/$50/$100 with a $100 big blind ante and an effective stack of roughly $67,000 (670 big blinds). Without any further ado, let’s dive right into this ridiculous hand!

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Preflop Action

EZ opens up the action with a raise to $300 from the Cutoff with .

Taras 3-bets with to $1,100 from the Big Blind.

Doug cold 4-bets from the Straddle to $3,300 with . EZ folds.

Taras 5-bets to $10,300. Doug calls.

Preflop Analysis

EZ should open-raise with around the top 30% of hands from the Cutoff, and A8-offsuit just barely makes the cut. Well played.

Before we go to Taras’ decision, you must keep in mind that there is no 72-game game going on. There is no expected value (EV) incentive whatsoever to play this hand. That being said, you are free to choose whatever action your heart desires at the poker table.

In his spot, however, if you want to play a profitable strategy, you should look to continue with around the top 30% of hands. You should 3-bet with the top 9-10% of hands (a linear range) and call with the next ~20% of hands. 

72-offsuit is obviously not strong enough to profitably 3-bet. But Taras knows that — he’s likely just making a move for the sake of the live show.

Doug’s cold 4-bet, in theory, is probably slightly losing. But in practice, it’s probably winning given that Taras is 3-betting with such a loose range. Doug’s 4-bet size is on the big side, which is reasonable against a loose player like Taras.

EZ makes the EZ fold with A8-offsuit.

Taras, on the other hand, is not letting go. He wants to go home with a story where he won a big pot off of Doug Polk with 72-offsuit. So, with that in mind, he 5-bets.

Going back to Doug now. In theory, he doesn’t have a profitable call as he should be facing an extremely strong range. But Doug calls, probably because of these reasons:

  • Taras is going to have a weaker range than he should
  • His pot odds are good (needing around 30% equity to call)
  • There are plenty of big blinds left to play for, which gives him some maneuverability.

Flop Action

The flop comes  and the pot is $21,025.

Taras bets $7,000 with . Doug calls with .

Flop Analysis

Given that we are way off the game theory optimal strategy, I will focus my analysis from the point of view of Taras holding 72-offsuit and how he may best maneuver postflop.

As for Doug, I’m going to assume that he is playing against a looser range than he should be. Because otherwise, I don’t think he’d be in this spot to begin with.

Taras’ c-bet is quite good since he should expect Doug to have a lot of missed overcards. So, by betting this small, he will force some folds from those 2 overcard hands that have ~24% equity against his pair of twos.

Plus, he will also get some value from hands such as overcards with a backdoor flush draw, like Doug’s

Taras is also not risking that much, which means that with a little bit of fold equity and some decent equity when called, this bet is +EV.

Checking and facing a potential bet would put him in a much more peculiar situation, as he would now need to guess a lot more about what kind of range Doug might bet.

Back to Doug now, who’s call is likely slightly profitable. Assuming he’s playing against a “wild” range, he has enough equity (given the pot odds laid by the 33% pot bet), nut potential, and bluff potential (given the stack-to-pot ratio) to make the call.

Turn Action

The turn comes the , making the board  . The pot is $35,025.

Taras checks. Doug checks back.

Turn Analysis

The turn gives Doug top pair while Taras is downgraded to fourth pair.

Taras’ hand now becomes significantly worse, since more hands have become a pair or better, and every missed hand has become at least a gutshot straight draw with 2 overcards.

Betting now wouldn’t accomplish anything better than checking. Let’s break down why that is.

  • First off, with a small bet, his fold equity will be extremely low given how many hands have enough equity to continue.
  • When he does bet small and get called, his equity will be very low.
  • At the same time, betting big would make it so that he doesn’t get enough value from the hands that he is ahead of, and he loses way more against the hands that already beat him.

Doug has no incentive to bet here given that there’s still around 1.5x pot left to play for. If he bets, he might expose himself to a check-shove, which isn’t what he wants to see with his hand. Plus, if he bets and makes Taras fold Ace-King, he shoots himself in the foot a little bit since the King would’ve put Taras into a reverse implied odds situation.

All-in-all, checking is by far the best option for both players.

River Action

The river comes the , making the final board   . The pot is $35,025.

Taras checks. Doug shoves for $50,275. Taras tank-folds.

River Analysis

The river is mostly a brick. It doesn’t change the nuts and it only improves hands to beat overpairs.

Taras has no reason to bet because it would only fold out worse and get called by better. Checking is clearly superior.

Doug is holding the nuts at this point and makes the correct decision to shove. He will have enough hands that are candidates for bluffing even if he shoves (so that he creates an indifference in Taras’ range). A smaller size would simply be leaving money on the table.

Faced with this jam, Taras is put into the tank and some pretty hilarious table talk ensues, causing Doug to break character by laughing. Watch it go down:

In the end, Taras’ fold is probably best. It’s one of those situations where you really need to know your opponent to make a good decision. Is Doug over-bluffing or not? That’s what Taras should be thinking about.

Final Thoughts

There is one final point that I’d like to talk about before you leave this article, and that is the importance of live tells.

Taras is clearly a highly intelligent person. Playing poker sub-optimally doesn’t take anything away from that. And you can tell that he is actually very smart because Doug made a huge error just before the end of the hand.

Taras was heavily leaning towards calling on the river due to the story aspect of the hand (telling your friends and kids that you owned Doug Polk with 72-offsuit is quite cool). After jokingly asking “How much is it? OMG, it’s like thousands of dollars,” Doug burst out laughing.

This immediately prompted Taras’ to throw his hand into the muck. This was probably Doug’s most expensive laugh ever!

That’s all for this article! I hope you enjoyed it and that you learned from it! As usual, if you have any questions or feedback feel free to leave a comment in the section down below.

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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