This week, the poker world will once again turn its attention to PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel as reigning and defending champion Phil Hellmuth is set to take on his current sparring partner Daniel Negreanu in what amounts to a $200,000 winner-take-all heads-up battle.
When these two faced off in the first match on March 31, Negreanu had the early edge and put a hurt on Hellmuth’s stack to the point where a victory for Kid Poker looked inevitable. However, as the blinds went up, Hellmuth held on and made some big hands in critical spots to double up and grind his way back. Roughly six hours into the match, Hellmuth completed his improbable comeback, winning his fourth High Stakes Duel match in a row and providing those who bet on him a reason to celebrate.
For those looking to bet on the 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner in the re-match, once again they’ll be betting on the underdog. According to oddsmakers PokerShares, Hellmuth opened at +132 despite being the player on a four-match winning streak. Over time though, the odds got slightly longer as the line moved to +142 just 48 hours ahead of the start of the match.
Conversely, it seems as if the public is still optimistic that the lessons Negreanu learned from his high-profile match with Doug Polk will come into play when he meets Hellmuth again. Negreanu opened at -149 and the line for him to walk away the winner has continued to increase, where he currently sits at -161.
“Negreanu played well in the challenge against Doug Polk and improved his HU game a ton. For that reason, we make him the favorite in our opening line versus Hellmuth, who is fundamentally weaker than Negreanu,” a spokesperson from PokerShares said. “The closing line is much more a factor of bets coming in, so Negreanu being the favorite in our current odds for Round 2 and our closing odds for Round 1 simply means that the betting volume keeps coming in on Negreanu despite Hellmuth’s impressive track record in the format.”
The betting volume for Round 1 is also a good indicator of how popular the first High Stakes Duel match-up between Hellmuth and Negreanu actually was. It was a boom for PokerShares, one that may repeat as the stakes for Round 2 are doubled.
“The Negreanu versus Hellmuth High Stakes Duel Round 1 was the most popular single heads-up session we ever offered on our platform,” the spokesperson said. “We particularly had many bets for €100 or lower as it was the perfect match for a casual bet. [In comparison] The Galfond versus Venividi Challenge saw more five, and even six-figure, bets as the challenge was much longer and variance thus didn’t play as big a role in determining the winner of the overall challenge. The betting volume on Negreanu versus Hellmuth was larger than on a single Galfond versus Venividi session but smaller than the overall challenge.”
Fans won’t have to wait much longer to see what will happen in the next chapter of the current rivalry between these two long-time poker peers. The High Stakes Duel II Hype Show kicks off the action on Tuesday, May 4 at 8 pm ET as Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman recap Round 1 and break down what fans can expect to see in Round 2.
Then on Wednesday, May 5 at 7:30 pm ET, Schulman returns to desk duty to host the Hellmuth and Negreanu “Weigh-In” where the players will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and trade some barbs before the cards are in the air for Round 2.
Finally, just half an hour later, at 8 pm ET, High Stakes Duel II, Round 2 will go down. Hellmuth looks to make it five in a row and force Negreanu to challenge him for a third time while Kid Poker plans on booking a heads-up challenge victory.