Doug Polk Offers Phil Hellmuth $1 Million if He Can Beat Him Heads-Up

Phil Hellmuth had an opportunity to face Doug Polk heads-up earlier this year, but the parties couldn’t come to terms. Now, the Upswing Poker founder is sweetening the pot, offering Hellmuth $1 million extra if he beats him in a 25,000-hand No-Limit Hold’em challenge.

doug polk phil hellmuth

Will Phil Hellmuth actually play Doug Polk? (Image: Upswing Poker)

What’s the catch? There isn’t one really, except that Polk is trying to lure in what he deems to be a fish. Whether the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner will take the bait — that’s anyone’s guess. As of the wee hours on Friday morning, Hellmuth hadn’t responded to a call-out tweet, though he retweeted Polk, so we’ll see if this progresses any further.

At present, Hellmuth is already locked into one heads-up challenge against Daniel Negreanu, who lost $1.2 million to Polk a few months back in an online poker battle. Polk proposed the same format for his next potential opponent – 25,000 hands of No-Limit Hold’em online at $200/$400 stakes.

This isn’t the first time, and it might not be the last, that Polk challenged Hellmuth to some good old-fashioned heads-up poker. The challenge isn’t likely to be accepted, however, mostly because the lengthy heads-up battles online aren’t Hellmuth’s cup of tea.

Is Hellmuth up to the challenge?

When the 2007 Poker Hall of Fame inductee plays heads-up, it’s either at the end of a multi-table tournament or in a sit-n-go style, much like his current High Stakes Duel competition against Negreanu. On that show, which airs on PokerGO, he’s unbeaten at five wins and zero losses – three against Antonio Esfandiari in 2020 and two against Negreanu this year.

Hellmuth isn’t accustomed to grinding four-hour sessions online, day after day. He’s a live poker player who sticks to small sample size matches. Polk, on the other hand, has made a career out of lengthy heads-up battles. The retired, but not really retired poker pro became known as one of the best, if not the best, heads-up No-Limit Hold’em players in the world in the previous decade.

That’s not to say Hellmuth will back down from the challenge, but it probably wouldn’t be wise to bet on him playing. As it stands, he’ll face Negreanu in Round 3 of High Stakes Duel sometime in the coming weeks, likely in early June. The pot for that match will be at $400,000 — double what it was in Round 2. If Hellmuth wins that game, he can cash out or accept another rematch from Negreanu, with the pot again doubled, this time to $800,000.

Written by
Jon Sofen
Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.


skaterick wrote...

i thought hellmuth already beat polk HU in a sng format . if i was phil i’d point that out and decline the challenge . polk has a whole team of programmers and theorists working with him , and certainly could have access to , and the ability to use real time assistance as he plays. that threat alone would scare me off . humans cant outplay computers in chess, backgammon , bridge and now HU poker .

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