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Found 3 results

  1. “What he has now is real problems,” Ali Nejad said as he called the action on PokerGO's High Stakes Duel III. “Dwan binks the nine on the turn, a demoralizing development…and now, Hellmuth has twelve outs, or the streak is over.” The river was a brick for the defending champion and as soon as Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan rose from their seats to share a friendly handshake in the center of the frame, the headlines were already being written: Tom Dwan Dethrones Phil Hellmuth in Round 2 of High Stakes Duel III The entertaining five-and-a-half-hour match gave fans just about everything they could have wanted. There was Dwan back in the poker spotlight, public closure over the duo’s famous 2008 feud, and, of course, peak Hellmuth - jovial and steaming, cursing and eating. (Oh, the eating!) That’s a big part of what makes High Stakes Duel work. Of course, for die-hard fans, the poker is critical. But, for many, it’s the dynamics between the players that make HSD good TV. And sure, by the end of the broadcast the big question of "who will win?" is always answered, but the show is more than just a point tally on a scoreboard. Emerging from this match were plenty of other storylines that were fun to see play out and could also play a big part in the future of the show. That was ‘Durrrr’, this is Dwan. You know the story: Dr. Bruce Banner infused himself with high doses of gamma rays while in the lab altering his DNA so when he becomes angry he transforms into…the Incredible Hulk! Banner is always trying to control his temper, but when the rage comes out the Hulk gets loose, and he destroys everything in his path. Perhaps Tom Dwan is a little like Dr. Banner. In the late 2000s, at the height of the online poker boom, Dwan exposed himself high doses of understanding ranges (before most people understood ranges) while “in the lab” and when he appeared on TV he transformed into “Durrrr”, the incredible online wunderkind who destroyed every bankroll in his path. That was then. His amazing, creative style of play is what Dwan built his reputation on. It's why still today fans are attracted to watching him play, despite him spending the better part of a decade grinding private ultra-stakes behind closed doors. But this is now: “The thing about high stakes poker back then was…a lot of people were missing some pretty core concepts and it gave me a lot of flexibility,” he said on PokerGO’s HSD “Weigh-In” show. “I just played this WPT show a week ago and I couldn’t really get that out of line, everyone’s studied No Limit a ton. I had a lot more options ten years ago.” That showed during his High Stakes Duel with Hellmuth as Dwan played a measured game, never really getting out of line, never really putting Hellmuth to the test with a less than adequate hand. Instead, he settled into the match, taking it seriously (when many thought he wouldn’t), and let the match come to him. Additionally, Dwan had an answer to Hellmuth's antics. Nothing. Whereas all of Hellmuth's previous opponents had a tendency to jaw back-and-forth with "The Poker Brat", Dwan never flinched. He never seemed compelled to answer back. Instead, Dwan kept his cool rather than responding with taunts like he did in his 2008 NBC Heads Up Poker Championship. He soldiered on, a wry smirk or left-looking glance here or there, but in general, he simply took care of business. Certainly, ‘Durrrr’ will emerge at some point in the future, but right now Tom Dwan looked like he was in complete control. Did Hellmuth actually...win? No doubt about it, the streak is over. Hellmuth’s reign as the undisputed king of High Stakes Duel has come to an end. But, honestly, is that a bad thing for Hellmuth? At the time of this writing, Hellmuth has yet to accept a rematch against Dwan and, if he doesn’t, who can blame him? He can credibly claim he has nothing left to prove in the format. He bested Antonio Esfandiari three times. He came back from a 19:1 deficit against Daniel Negreanu and ended up sweeping him in three straight. Finally, he played an experienced amateur in Nick Wright (something Dwan called him one of the best at) and took care of business. Plus, every sponsor of Hellmuth - from energy drinks to altcoins - must be happy with the amount of exposure he’s given them (far more than 24 total hours of screen time) on this show. Whenever the opportunity presented itself Hellmuth (is “shilling” too harsh a word?) took the opportunity to promote those who support him. A loss to Dwan marks the perfect time to exit stage left. Hellmuth, almost notoriously, is averse to stakes that climb too high. Yes, he played the 2012 Big One For One Drop with its $1 million buy-in, but for a player who sometimes has extended stays at the Aria Resort & Casino he’s notably absent in the regularly running $10Ks that take place in the Aria poker room. When it comes to bankroll management and game selection, super high-stakes tournaments are not traditionally where Hellmuth has found his success. So with the next High Stakes Duel, should PokerGO continue down the road they have established, be Round 3 would have a buy-in of $200,000. Win or lose, Hellmuth’s next option would be a $400,000 match. If Hellmuth were to win, he would be forced to defend a title at $400,000 and, in order to walk away, play and win a Round 5 that comes with a $800,000 price tag - legitimately making it among the biggest buy-in tournaments of all time. Losing to Dwan makes it the perfect time for Hellmuth to step aside under the notion that all his focus needs to be on his first love - the World Series of Poker. No one would blame Hellmuth for saving all his #WhiteMagic for chasing bracelet #16. Plus, by saving a $200K buy-in, Hellmuth could play just about every event on the WSOP schedule if he wanted to (provided he can pull himself away from his new bestie Mr. Beast.) All in all, a Round 2 loss to Dwan could end up being an easy exit and the real win for Hellmuth. Will PokerGO push Dwan (and the show) into deep waters? “If no one challenges a winner within 30 days of the previous match, that last winner declares victory.” The original High Stakes Duel rules have the stakes doubling through Round 8 “resulting in a potential prize pool of $12,800,000” and a player needing to win three straight matches before Round Six (or two in a row from Round Five) in order to cash out and win. If that stays true (it’s a TV show so producers can change the rules at will), there could be some incredibly high stakes to fight for in the next few months. As mentioned earlier, Dwan would play again at $200,000 and whoever wins that would need to battle at twice that with only Dwan having the potential to walk away with a victory and an $800,000 prize pool. That seems to be the minimum. So, all eyes will be on how far can the show go and how big is the player pool to help them get there. By the time Round 4 takes place, a $400,000 buy-in is bigger than PokerGO’s marquee event, the Super High Roller Bowl and it’s unlikely that there’s a massive player pool willing to play at those stakes in such a shallow format. Phil Ivey is a natural fit, and fans would love to see it. A rehashing of the “Durrrr Challenge” debate could take place if Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates were to answer the call. Maybe it would be a nosebleed tournament pro like Justin Bonomo, Dan Smith, Andrew Robl or All-Time Money List leader Bryn Kenney. As the rounds go higher, would the wealthiest of businessmen in the poker space need to courted? Players like Paul Phua, Rick Solomon, or perhaps even PokerGO founder Cary Katz himself. This is what is on the horizon for the show itself. It looks like either the initial premise is about to pay off on the promise of astronomical heads-up stakes or a hard reset is right around the corner with two new combatants creating new storylines (in anticipation of a Phil Hellmuth return.) More on the conversation on High Stakes Duel can be heard on The FIVES Poker Podcast below:
  2. Phil Hellmuth’s High Stakes Duel seven-match winning streak came to an end Wednesday night after nosebleed cash game savant Tom Dwan defeated the reigning champion in an entertaining five-and-a-half-hour, hard-fought heads-up battle for $200,000. Those hoping for Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan to reignite their 2008 NBC Heads Up Poker Championship feud may have been disappointed when the pair sat down with commentator Ali Nejad for the High Stakes Duel III (Round 2) “Weigh-In” show. Whereas in boxing or MMA, the combatants posture as to who will have the upper hand, this pre-game hype show saw a pair of players who seemed to genuinely enjoy and respect each other as people, if not each other's poker game. As Nejad peppered both with questions about their past encounters on the felt and their evolution (both as players and people) over the past 13 years, he received mostly replies of the duo slinging compliments at each other. Dwan, adamant that Hellmuth is one of the best at playing against amateurs (even better than Daniel [Negreanu]), while Hellmuth reminisced about how he and Dwan have recently palled around, smoking cigars and talking crypto. Hellmuth even called Dwan at age 35, “already a legend.” The good vibes continued once the cards were in the air. Dwan and Hellmuth kept the conversation going in the early moments with “Durrrr” asking “The Poker Brat” some probing questions about his prior matches and Hellmuth doing his promotional duties for his many sponsors. Dwan got off to a quick start, flopping a flush on the very first hand holding [poker card="ac"][poker card="8c"] on the [poker card="kc"][poker card="qc"][poker card="6c"] flop. But with little to continue with, Hellmuth folded his [poker card="ad"][poker card="2c"] and just two hands later Hellmuth took over a chip lead that he didn’t surrender for the better part of two hours. The first important hand of the match took place in the first hour with Dwan raising the button to 1,200 holding [poker card="9h"][poker card="7d"] and Hellmuth defending his big blind with the [poker card="qc"][poker card="6c"]. Hellmuth checked in the dark as the dealer spread the [poker card="qh"][poker card="8d"][poker card="6h"] flop, giving Hellmuth two pair and Dwan an open-ended straight draw. Dwan continued for 1,500 and Hellmuth made the call. The turn came the [poker card="2s"] and Hellmuth checked again. Dwan fired 4,400 and Hellmuth made the call. The river came the [poker card="ac"] and after Hellmuth checked, Dwan bluffed for 11,000 with nine-high, and Hellmuth snap-called dragging more than 36,000 chips in the middle. As Dwan began climbing back from his lows, Hellmuth picked up another important early pot. From the button, Hellmuth called the 500 chip big blind with the [poker card="kd"][poker card="2d"]. Dwan made it 1,500 more to go holding the [poker card="jh"][poker card="jd"] and Hellmuth came along. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="5c"][poker card="5s"] flop kept Dwan in the lead and he led for 1,600 which Hellmuth called. The turn was the [poker card="4c"] and the action checked through. The [poker card="kh"] hit the river and Dwan led again, this time for 3,000. Hellmuth took a moment and announce a bet of 7,200 and after taking some time, Dwan paid him off, giving Hellmuth a 40,000 chip lead. Despite the things not going his way early, Dwan never showed any real frustration. He chipped away at Hellmuth and took over the chip lead for the first time since the first few minutes. From the button, Hellmuth made the call to 800 with the [poker card="ks"][poker card="9s"] and Dwan checked his option in the big blind holding [poker card="qc"][poker card="th"]. The [poker card="qs"][poker card="td"][poker card="5s"] brought Dwan top two pair and Hellmuth both a flush and straight draw. Dwan checked it over to Hellmuth who bet 800 and Dwan promptly check-raised to 3,000, which Hellmuth called. The turn was the [poker card="6h"] and Dwan bet 4,800 and Hellmuth snap-called. The [poker card="3d"] came on the river and Dwan bet 13,300 and Hellmuth started talking to himself before finally letting it go. By the end of the third hour, Dwan had extended his chip lead and was looking for opportunities to take Hellmuth out. It almost came when Hellmuth, with 72k behind, called 1,000 from the button with [poker card="ah"][poker card="4h"]. Dwan raised it up to 4,000 from the big blind and Hellmuth made the call. The [poker card="9d"][poker card="9s"][poker card="8s"] flop brought an open-ended straight draw for Dwan and he led for 5,000. Hellmuth clicked it back, raising to 10,000 with his ace-high hand. Dwan made the call and the turn came the [poker card="jh"], bringing Dwan a straight. Dwan checked it over to Hellmuth, who bet another 14,000 drawing dead. Dwan considered his options and decided to shove. Hellmuth made the quick fold and Dwan’s lead surged to roughly three-to-one. “This is f***ing ridiculous actually,” Hellmuth fumed. “Noone’s ever beaten me raising every f***ing button before.”   Dwan continued to apply pressure, looking for the knockout blow and moving in with his big draws. But Hellmuth hung around and as he had in matches prior, turned his short stack around. Not only did he draw even with Dwan, but he reclaimed the chip lead for a short amount of time. But eventually, as the fifth hour was coming to a close, Dwan grabbed the lead back as well as a momentum that he wouldn’t let go of. With the blinds at 3,500/7,000, Dwan completed from the button with the [poker card="8h"][poker card="3h"] and Hellmuth checked holding the [poker card="qd"][poker card="7c"]. The flop came [poker card="jc"][poker card="7s"][poker card="4h"] and the action checked through. The turn came the [poker card="2h"] and Hellmuth led out for 9,000 from his 83k stack. Dwan considered and opted for a call with his heart flush draw and live eight. The river came the [poker card="8s"], giving Dwan the best hand and when Hellmuth fired 11,000, Dwan found the call, scooped the pot, and built one of his biggest leads of the match. “Motherf***er. Call nine thousand with a dry f***ing flush draw,” Hellmuth rants. “Never getting paid off…He doesn’t know any better.” As Hellmuth paced and ranted, Dwan didn’t reply with the bravado he showed off in 2008. He calmly stacked his chips, like a pro who had been there many times before, unfazed by the antics. While not the final hand, the one that summed up the match came early in the sixth hour of play. Dwan made it 9,000 to go on the button with [poker card="kh"][poker card="2s"] and Hellmuth made the call from the big blind with the [poker card="td"][poker card="8d"]. The flop came [poker card="9c"][poker card="5h"][poker card="2d"], giving Dwan bottom pair. Hellmuth checked to Dwan who checked it back. The turn was the [poker card="5c"] and Hellmuth fired for 11,000 and Dwan made the call. The [poker card="3s"] hit the river and after cutting out some chips, Hellmuth announced a bet of 27,000 - half his remaining stack. Dwan tanked, used a time extension and let out a long sigh. Eventually, Dwan made the call, scooping the pot and grabbing an overwhelming eight-to-one chip lead. Down to his final 20K, Hellmuth picked up [poker card="ah"][poker card="ac"] on the button and limped for 4,000. Dwan checked his [poker card="9s"][poker card="3c"] and the pair saw a flop of [poker card="5c"][poker card="3h"][poker card="2h"]. Dwan led out for 5,000 with his middle pair and Hellmuth sprung the trap, moving all-in with his pocket aces. Dwan called the extra three big blinds and was looking for help. Help arrived for Dwan when the [poker card="9c"] hit the turn, improving him to two pair. Down to his final card, Hellmuth needed help. However, as the [poker card="6c"] arrived on the river, Hellmuth’s High Stakes Duel unbeaten streak was over and Dwan became the show’s new champion. “Good battle,” Hellmuth said shaking Dwan’s hand with a smile on his face. Dwan laughed and replied “Yea, crazy last one.” Hellmuth now has 72 hours from the end of the match in which to declare if he will challenge Dwan for another match. If he declines, a new challenger will be announced for Round 3.
  3. 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 [poker card="as"][poker card="8d"] and Wright called with [poker card="5d"][poker card="5s"]. The flop came [poker card="jc"][poker card="8s"][poker card="5c"] and Wright bet 500 and then called after Hellmuth raised to 1,500. Both players checked the [poker card="9h"] turn. After the [poker card="4s"] 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 [poker card="ks"][poker card="jc"] and Wright called with [poker card="td"][poker card="6s"]. After the [poker card="6h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="3s"] flop, Wright check-called Hellmuth's bet of 500. Wright then checked the [poker card="jh"] turn and Hellmuth bet 1,500 with top pair and Wright called. The river was the [poker card="tc"] 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 [poker card="7c"][poker card="7s"] against Wright's [poker card="as"][poker card="9d"] on the [poker card="4c"][poker card="4d"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3d"][poker card="qs"] 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 [poker card="qs"][poker card="8c"][poker card="2s"][poker card="qc"][poker card="3s"]. Hellmuth was bluffing with [poker card="7d"][poker card="5d"] while Wright had turned quads with [poker card="qd"][poker card="qh"]. 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 [poker card="qh"][poker card="js"] before Wright moved all in for 12,200 with [poker card="5d"][poker card="5s"]. Hellmuth called only to see the [poker card="5h"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3d"] flop give Wright a full house. Hellmuth was drawing dead after the [poker card="as"] turn as the meaningless [poker card="8d"] 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 [poker card="8c"][poker card="5c"] and Wright checked with [poker card="7c"][poker card="6c"]. The [poker card="ac"][poker card="kc"][poker card="5s"] flop gave both players a flush draw and Wright check-called Hellmuth's bet of 2,000. The [poker card="tc"] 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 [poker card="8d"] 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.
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