Daniel Negreanu will have an opportunity to get all of his money back, and then some, from Phil Hellmuth come June 23 at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas. Of course, he could end up losing another $200,000, along with his pride.
In Round 1, back in March, Hellmuth won the $100,00 duel thanks to a wild comeback. He trailed at one point by more than 19-1 in chips, but won a series of double-ups en route to his fourth consecutive victory on the show, which airs on the PokerGO app. The first three matches, in 2020, were against Antonio Esfandiari, who waited years to beat the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner in a heads-up match, but failed miserably in doing so.
Hellmuth made it five for five last month when he beat Negreanu for the second consecutive time. This time around, he didn’t have to pull off a miraculous comeback. Instead, he kept it close throughout most of the match before pulling out in the end. He used a well-timed bluff with 10-high (missed flush draw) on the river to put himself in a position to win the $200,000 prize.
Raising the stakes
In Round 3, the prize will double to $400,000. Negreanu, because he lost the previous match, is required to contribute the full $200,000 to double that pot. Not only will the stakes increase financially in Round 3, but pride might also be on the line.
Per the High Stakes Duel rules, the winning player after three matches has the option to call it quits and cash out. Hellmuth, if he wins, could end the match and leave Negreanu, and his ego, hanging. He took his money and ran after three straight victories against Esfandiari last year, and could very well do the same again.
Negreanu has been highly critical of Hellmuth’s heads-up game for quite some time — long before the match began. He’s gone so far as to say the Hellmuth’s heads-up skills are lacking, especially compared to the younger pros of today. But if he loses three straight matches to Hellmuth, who then cashes out, he may never get to live that down from the poker community.
If Negreanu wins, however, Hellmuth will then have an option to force a rematch, and the stakes would raise to $800,000 in Round 4.