For six hours on Wednesday night, Phil Hellmuth sat across from Fox Sports 1’s First Things co-host Nick Wright and found an opponent willing to match him blow-for-blow – both in cards and the verbal jabs. In the end, it didn’t matter and Hellmuth went on to win the opening round of PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel III.
Hellmuth now has a perfect 7-0 record in this format. He defeated Antonio Esfandiari 3-0 in 2020 and then rattled off three straight wins against Daniel Negreanu earlier this year.
Hellmuth and Wright spent the opening minutes of the match promoting each other’s platforms before spending the next 30 minutes playing small pots, feeling each other out, before Wright struck the first blow.
Hellmuth raised to 450 with and Wright called with . The flop came and Wright bet 500 and then called after Hellmuth raised to 1,500. Both players checked the turn. After the river, Wright bet 3,500 and while Hellmuth was considering his options, Wright began to to talk to the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner.
“You’re definitely folding,” Wright said, multiple times. Hellmuth called and Wright showed him the winner to take a 57,000-43,000 lead.
The next big hand didn’t come for another 45 minutes but lead to an epic Hellmuth rant. Hellmut opened to 500 with and Wright called with . After the flop, Wright check-called Hellmuth’s bet of 500. Wright then checked the turn and Hellmuth bet 1,500 with top pair and Wright called. The river was the to give Wright two pair and he checked once again. Hellmuth bet 4,600 and Wright called and tabled his hand saying, “I rivered you, buddy.”
Hellmuth immediately stood up and began pacing around the studio, and dropped F-bombs in the ensuing rant including the following soliloquy.
“What a fucking mockery, man. This is my fucking living here. Just a fucking off-suit fucking ten. From a fucking calling station,” Hellmuth said as both players were playing the next hand. Wright had built his stack up to 72,000.
Hellmuth took a chunk back 15 minutes later with against Wright’s on the board. Most of that went back to Wright after Hellmuth led out for 7,200 into a pot of 12,500 on a board of . Hellmuth was bluffing with while Wright had turned quads with . Wright raised to 27,000 and Hellmuth tossed his cards into the muck. Wright was in front with 64,000 to Hellmuth’s 36,000.
Hellmuth slowly chipped away at Wright’s lead over the next hour to once again find himself even. Rather than relinquish the opportunity, Hellmuth continued to apply pressure to Wright and three hours into play, held a 2-1 chip lead of his own. An an hour later, that lead had grown to 5-1 before Wright played a familiar tune to gain some chips back.
Hellmuth called from the button with before Wright moved all in for 12,200 with . Hellmuth called only to see the flop give Wright a full house. Hellmuth was drawing dead after the turn as the meaningless river completed the board. Hellmuth still held a 3-1 lead.
The duel went on for another two hours with little fluctuation before a cooler of a hand ended things. Holding 70,000 of the 100,000 in play, Hellmuth limped the button for 800 with and Wright checked with . The flop gave both players a flush draw and Wright check-called Hellmuth’s bet of 2,000. The turn completed both flush draws and Wright checked again. Hellmuth bet 3,000 and Wright called, leaving himself 22,000 behind. The river was the and Wright checked for a third time. Hellmuth bet 7,400 into the 13,200 pot and Wright moved all in for 22,000. Hellmuth called and tabled the winner to capture his seventh straight High Stakes Duel victory.
While Esfandiari and Negreanu were both quick to invoke the rematch option provided to the loser of the match, Wright indicated after the match that he wanted to think about it and consider his options before deciding if he will be back to play Hellmuth in a $100,000 buy-in.