Long Awaited Tom Dwan vs. Phil Hellmuth Match Was Supposed to Happen

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Tom Dwan was the next man up to take on Phil Hellmuth on PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel, but Daniel Negreanu got in the way.

Tom Dwan poker WSOP
Tom Dwan could be the next player to on Phil Hellmuth in heads-up play. (Image: thewealthrecord.com)

In 2020, Hellmuth defeated Antonio Esfandiari in three straight matches on the show and then cashed out. High Stakes Duel doesn’t end after one battle concludes. Instead, the winning player then has the option to face a new challenger, and there are some big-name pros such as Dwan waiting in the wings.

‘Durrrr’ Spills the Beans

The online poker star, who will forever be commonly referred to as “durrrr,” recently appeared on the No Gamble, No Future podcast for a brief interview. In that conversation with hosts Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks, Dwan revealed that he was next in line to face Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel after Hellmuth’s obliteration of Esfandiari.

“I was in San Francisco and I got drunk with Phil Hellmuth, and I think that’s when I found out I wasn’t going to get to play Phil Hellmuth,” Dwan said. “He was like, ‘oh, did you know?’ I said, ‘no, I didn’t, well, alright.’”

Dwan didn’t appear angry that his match against the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner was put on hold, however. Hanks, a PokerGO commentator, then gave an explanation as to why the popular poker pro was bumped in favor of Negreanu.

“You know what I think happened, though?” Hanks said. “It was definitely not my call, but you know what happened — Daniel was just coming off the heat of the moment against Doug Polk, where he just got his clock cleaned out. He was all over for all sorts of stuff, for going on these rampages and rants, while (Jeff Platt) and I were on commentary. It just seemed like the time was right, Daniel was on fire, put him in there, get him in the ring, and sure enough, here we are.”

Dwan was asked if he accepted the answer and he responded by telling Platt and Hanks that the next time he’s out to dinner with them, they’re going to owe him an expensive meal. That seems fair.

Hellmuth vs. Dwan Part I

A Phil Hellmuth vs. Tom Dwan match has been long anticipated ever since a memorable battle in 2008 during the former NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, a 64-player tournament that was canceled in 2013 — a year in which Hellmuth finished runner-up to Mike Matusow.

The above hand is one of the most memorable pots in televised poker history. Dwan sucked out on Hellmuth’s pocket aces with pocket 10’s to bust his opponent. In true “Poker Brat” fashion, Hellmuth couldn’t just shake “durrrr’s” hand and say, “nice game,” and then politely walk away from the table like most professional poker players would do. Instead, he ripped on Dwan for putting all his chips in the pot with 10’s, a hand that’s considered a monster in heads-up play (and a pretty big hand even in a full ring game).

Dwan, one of the game’s young superstars at the time, wasn’t just going to sit there and take it from the more experienced poker player.

“I was going to say, ‘good game, sorry for the suck-out,’ but when you phrase it that way, it makes me not want to,” Dwan told Hellmuth following his critical comments. “Phil, that’s why you lose money online. Pick your stakes heads-up. Pick your stakes heads-up. I’m sorry I sucked out, pick your stakes heads-up. We can play right now if you want.”

Dwan then pulled out a stack of chips from his pocket in hopes of baiting Hellmuth into another heads-up game. But to this day, the polarizing poker stars haven’t squared off heads-up. That was, however, supposed to happen on High Stakes Duel, and still might eventually. For now, it’s Hellmuth vs. Negreanu, Round 3, which airs on the PokerGO app on June 23.

If Hellmuth wins Round 3, which has a $400,000 pot, he can cash out and move onto a new opponent. Perhaps, it will be Dwan in the match the poker community has been waiting to see for 13 years.

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