For more than six hours on Wednesday night, poker fans around the world were tuned in watching Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth go head-to-head in High Stakes Duel II. During the first three hours, Negreanu racked up pot after pot while Hellmuth seemed more focused on eating.
Hellmuth put the take-out away however and over the final two hours of play came back from 19-1 chip deficit to take out Negreanu to capture his fourth High Stakes Duel match.
“That was super intense. I played against Jungleman [Dan Cates], and I was down to 4,000 of 200,000 in chips, and here Daniel had 95,000 to my 5,000. I came back to win against Jungleman, and I came back and won this,” Hellmuth said. “I didn’t see Daniel do anything particularly wrong, but most people other than Daniel will allow you to get back into the match because they’re not really finishing the way they should finish.”
Negreanu’s control began as soon as cards were in the air on Wednesday night and he held the lead over Hellmuth for almost four full hours. Three hours into play, with Negreanu holding nearly a 4-1 lead over Hellmuth, the pair played a pot that brought The Poker Brat front and center. With blinds of 250/500, Hellmuth limped with and then re-raised to 3,700 after Negreanu made it 1,500 with . Negreanu called and the flop came . Negreanu checked, Hellmuth bet 4,000 and Negreanu decided to call. The turn was the and both players checked. The completed the board and Negreanu bet 5,000 with Hellmuth having just 12,000 behind. Hellmuth called and Negreanu tabled the winner to leave Hellmuth with just 14 big blinds.
“You might win this fuckin’ match, but I tell you what, I fuckin’ hate the way you played,” Hellmuth said after standing up and pacing around the set. “You played so fuckin’ bad, it’s crazy. What the fuck you putting 3,700 in with 4-6?”
In the wake of that rant, Hellmuth folded on a board after Negreanu bet 1,500 into a 3,000 chip pot to leave himself with 5,000. The lowest point of the match for the 15-time bracelet winner came just a few hands later when he dipped to 4,000.
A little more than a half hour later, Hellmuth found himself all in for the first time on the night and it ended up being a key hand on his way to the win. Negreanu min-raised to 1,200 with and Hellmuth called with . The flop came to give both players flush and straight draws. Hellmuth checked and then moved all in for 10,200 after Negreanu bet 600. Negreanu called and then discovered he was in rough shape. The turn was the to give Hellmuth a six-high straight. The river changed nothing and Hellmuth doubled back to 22,800.
“Just turns out I had him in bad shape because he had a huge hand. He had an open-ender, two overcards, but it just so happened that I had a better flush draw. I did still think he may outdraw me, but that red five on the turn was amazing,” Hellmuth said.
Just 30 minutes later, Hellmuth nearly evened the stacks out and found himself down just 4,000 chips. He took his first lead after raising to 17,500 with on a board. Negreanu had bet 6,000 on the river with and folded to send the 42,500 pot to Hellmuth.
Down to just seven big blinds, Negreanu moved all in with after Hellmuth limped with . Hellmuth called and saw the flop give Negreanu an open-ended straight flush draw. The turn changed nothing and the river failed to save Negreanu and Hellmuth won his fourth consecutive High Stakes Duel match.
The match-up between Hellmuth and Negreanu was the second in PokerGo’s High Stakes Duel series and comes on the heels of Negreanu’s online cash game battle against Doug Polk. In the first installment of High Stakes Duel, Hellmuth won three straight matches against Antonio Esfandiari.
The weeks leading up to the match featured each of the combatants firing barbs at each other on social media. The match was originally scheduled for March 16 but had to be delayed due to “non-player COVID concerns”.
With Hellmuth’s win, the option for a rematch falls to Negreanu. In the wake of the final hand, Negreanu told Hellmuth, “There will be a re-match, you can guarantee that.”