Bill Perkins Challenges Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari to a Team Match

3 min read

Bill Perkins is so intrigued by the Phil Hellmuth vs. Antonio Esfandiari match that he’s offering up his own challenge for the poker pros. He wants to face them both in a team format event.

Bill Perkins Phil Hellmuth
Bill Perkins offered up an intriguing challenge to two popular poker pros. (Image:

The avid poker enthusiast briefly explained his proposition on Twitter. He wants to face both Hellmuth and Esfandiari, and team with MJ Gonzalez, a poker pro from Los Angeles.

The format proposed would differ from the WSOP heads-up events. Instead of only one player on the team playing a hand, Perkins suggests both players play every hand, rotating streets. So, if Hellmuth handles the pre-flop action, Esfandiari would then take over on the flop, followed by Hellmuth making the turn decisions, and Esfandiari jumping back in to play the river.

Perkins Unique Challenge

In the WSOP tag-team bracelet events, competitors play hands individually and rotate players in when they feel like it. Doug Polk won a bracelet in the 2016 $1,000 tag-team tournament, but admitted he hardly played. His partner, Ryan Fee, was the main player. In Perkins’ proposed format, it wouldn’t be possible for one player to avoid playing most of the time.

Esfandiari has a bit of experience playing in Perkins’ proposed team format. The “Magician” competed in the 2013 Caesars Cup at WSOP Europe on Team America. He paired with Daniel Negreanu during a portion of the competition in a similar style team game.

In 2010, Poker PROductions produced a brief televised team heads-up show similar to the challenge offered by Perkins. Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and 32 of the top players in the world at the time competed on the “Doubles Poker Championship,” with the winning team receiving $1 million. The series lasted 13 weeks, but the show never really caught on with the poker world, at least compared to other Poker PROductions shows like “Poker After Dark” and “High Stakes Poker.”

Perkins announced on Twitter that Esfandiari has accepted the challenge. He’s now waiting for a response from Hellmuth. The wealthy businessman hasn’t disclosed details of the possible competition, including the stakes or where the match will be played.

Esfandiari and Hellmuth recently competed in a pair of heads-up sit n go’s at the PokerGo Studio in Las Vegas on the new PokerGo Show, “High Stakes Duel.” Each player bought in for $50,000 in each match. Hellmuth won them both, and the entire $200,000 prize pool. Esfandiari still has the option to challenge him to a third game, and the prize pool would increase by $100,000.

Ali Nejad, who commentated on the “High Stakes Duel” matches, offered up his services to Perkins.

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