Joe Ingram and Doug Polk launched a joint podcast this week called Table Talk with Polk and Papi. The show is an interesting concept with two strong personalities sharing the hosting duties.

According to the show’s description:

“Table Talk will be a weekly show where Doug & Joey discuss the current news and trending topics in the poker world. The show will air LIVE at 2pm EST time on DougPolk.tv and you can find the full episode on Joey or Dougs [sic] YouTube channel after!”

You can watch a replay of the debut episode here:

Here are some of my thoughts based on the first episode.

The hosts

Joe Ingram

Before I get into my thoughts on the show itself, I want to talk about the two hosts.

I’m a fan of Joe Ingram and the way he’s managed to carve a niche out for himself in poker media while staying true to his playing roots.

I’m such a fan that I voted for him as the Poker Media Person of the Year at the American Poker Awards last year.

Ingram and his Poker life Podcast are universally loved in the poker community, mainly because of the hard work and dedication he’s put into the show, and because he’s not overly quarrelsome with his guests and allows people to speak their mind relatively uninterrupted.

Because of this, Ingram manages to get the biggest names in poker to come on his show. Perhaps more importantly, Ingram has the very rare quality of being able to disarm his guests and get them off the standard talking points and digging deeper into their points of view. He also manages to get them talking about all kinds of topics, turning what many people see as two-dimensional characters into three-dimensional personalities.

I often come away from a Poker Life Podcast with a new attitude towards the guest, whereas most other podcasts play to the person’s known character traits and simply work to confirm what I already know about the person.

Doug Polk

Full disclosure, I’m not much of a Doug Polk fan. I think he’s a bright guy, and a top-level poker player, and while I get his shtick (he seems to want to be poker’s version of a popular wrestling heel), I’m not sure I’m a fan of how far he takes it.

Unlike Ingram, Polk comes across as abrasive and can be dismissive, which creates a style that doesn’t do much to expand the game’s reach beyond the typical 2+2’ers, fanboys, and aspiring pros, and could hamper the shows ability to get guests if they choose to go down this route.

Still, I don’t know Polk enough to judge him any harsher than this, so I’m going into Table Talk with an open mind, and I’m hoping both hosts show me something beyond what I’ve come to expect from them.

He’s got great range

Like Tom Hanks showing his dramatic acting chops in Philadelphia, I think this podcast is a good opportunity for both men to show their range, and go beyond the community’s current view of them.

It’s hard to stay in character the entire time (by “in character” I mean the outgoing part of their personality they usually turn up to 100 when they’re doing podcasts or interviews) so I’d rather see both focus on being serious when serious is needed (both are smart and have insightful opinions on different subjects), and save the comedy and snark for the proper times.

There were a couple of spots where I think Polk and Ingram could have been more thoughtful and insightful rather than simply trying to be entertaining for the entire podcast.

Some initial thoughts about the podcast

For a debut episode, and a completely new format for both hosts, the show was really good, and I think it will only get better as the pair get a better of sense of one another’s timing and strengths. The chemistry is already there, but it’s not there for the entire show just yet. I’m also curious to see how both handle it when they disagree about something.

One of the best aspects of the show from my perspective was that it had a format that’s easy to follow – it’s essentially Pardon the Interruption – and lasted just 36 minutes; closer to an hour if you include the banter before and after the show. I feel like poker podcasts have grown too long of late, and I know it’s hard for me to commit over an hour to listening to a podcast, so I like Table Talk’s length.

Another good sign was both Polk and Ingram seem to be taking the show seriously, and were already discussing some potential improvements and enhancements for the next show before the debut episode was even finished.

I only really have one point of criticism. To pull off this type of format you need to really know what you’re talking about on each and every topic, and it was clear that in a couple of the segments that their understanding was a bit lacking. If Ingram and Polk had a Tony Reali “statboy” he’d have let them know they fudged up a couple of things.

  1. David Baazov is gone from Amaya, has been since March. First Baazov took an indefinite leave of absence and later stepped away from the company entirely in August. The idea put forth by Ingram that Baazov is pulling the strings, or that things won’t change until he’s gone isn’t up to speed with the situation inside Amaya.
  2. Another segment that demonstrated a general lack of awareness was the duo’s attempt to discuss the Trump presidency and how it might impact online poker. Polk didn’t seem to have any thoughts or opinions on it, and the segment was largely winged and full of generalities.

Granted, it’s hard to have a strong understanding on a dozen issues, but at the same time, if your goal is to educate your viewers and offer up insightful commentary you can’t get basic facts wrong and/or make it seem like you’re disinterested in the subject.

One solution for the couple segments that fall outside of both hosts’ wheelhouse is to go full Pardon the Interruption, and bring on an expert guest for a quick five minute interview slot.

Final thoughts

I’m not a podcast guy, but I like the format of this show, and could see Table Talk becoming a good place to get the professional poker player point of view on a number of things happening within the poker world.

So far so good.