Three Upcoming Heads-Up Matches Will Entertain Poker Community During COVID-19

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We’re all missing our regularly scheduled major live poker tournaments this time of year (thanks, COVID-19), but the poker community still has some exciting events on the horizon. Not only is the World Poker Tour set to host a $5,000 event at the Venetian in Las Vegas later this week, three intriguing heads-up challenges are days away from kicking off.

phil hellmuth daniel negreanu poker
Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu will settle a score on PokerGO’s “High Stakes Duel” show. (Image: Poker Central)

Normally this time of year, we’re all busy prepping for the World Series of Poker, traveling across the country to cover WPT events, and wrapping up another successful Aussie Millions series. But a pesky pandemic is still causing issues across the globe and forcing the cancellation of so many poker events.

But there’s still plenty of reasons to follow the industry because there are some interesting heads-up challenges on the horizon, starting with Fedor Holz, the “Prince of Poker,” against the “Nororious End Boss,” Wiktor “Limitless” Malinowski. That high-stakes match begins March 5 on GGPoker, the site Holz represents.

Malinowski may not be a familiar name to those who don’t follow online poker. But he’s highly entertaining, loves to talk trash, and he can back his mouth up.

“Limitless” is one of the top online pros in the world, and he’s facing one of the best overall players in history. Holz, known as “CrownUpGuy” online, has over $32 million in live tournament cashes and has crushed online heads-up no-limit hold’em games for years. This match is a bit like pitting Michael Jordan in his prime against LeBron James, one-on-one on the basketball court.

Details of the match haven’t yet been publicly announced. But you can assume given the sizable bankrolls these players have that they’ll be playing at extremely high stakes.

Phil Hellmuth vs. Daniel Negreanu

When Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu meet on PokerGO’s show “High Stakes Duel” later this month, it very well could end up being the most watched heads-up battle in poker history. The Poker Hall of Famers are arguably the two most popular and successful pros of all-time.

But although the match is intriguing and should be a fun watch, it likely won’t prove much in terms of who is the superior player. That is because they are playing a small sample sit n go format. Variance will be a key factor in determining the outcome as it is in almost any poker game with only a couple hundred hands dealt.

The date hasn’t been set for the start of the match, but Mori Eskandani, the show’s producer, recently informed Las Vegas Review-Journal journalist Jim Barnes to avoid betting on the match after March 14. He gave that heads-up because the show will be filmed and recorded and won’t be available to the public live. So, it wouldn’t be wise to bet on a recorded game after its conclusion.

Bill Perkins vs. Landon Tice

Landon Tice vs. Bill Perkins will draw some interest because the match pits a young prodigy against a wealthy amateur poker player. Tice is just 21 years old and is considered a rising star in poker (he already shipped a Venetian DeepStack for $201,000). Perkins, on the other hand, recently turned 51 and has a larger bankroll than any pro.

What makes this match so intriguing is to see how Tice can handle the pressure when he runs bad. He admitted that he’s backed for this $200/$400 no-limit hold’em challenge because he doesn’t have the bankroll to play those stakes over 20,000 hands. But he’s still responsible to satisfy his backers.

Perkins, however, isn’t expected to win because he’s facing a player who studies GTO, and he won’t be under as much pressure because he can afford to lose millions. When the match begins in the coming weeks — an official date hasn’t been set — we’re going to find out just how much of an edge a young GTO pro has over a recreational player.

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