It seems that Phil Hellmuth just can’t lose heads up. It also seems like Daniel Negreanu just can’t win heads up. Hellmuth defeated Negreanu on Wednesday night in the third and seemingly final High Stakes Duel II match between the two poker hall of famers.
Hellmuth needed just over five hours to defeat Negreanu at the PokerGO studios in Las Vegas to win the $400,000 winner-take-all prize. The buy-in doubled for each match between the two with the opening match in April costing each competitor $50,000.
Hellmuth is now 6-0 on High Stakes Duel after beating Antonio Esfandiari in three straight matches in 2020. Having secured three consecutive wins against Negreanu, Hellmuth earned the option to decline any rematch request and in the moments following his win, did exactly that.
“Where’s the window, baby? I know (PokerGO President) Mori (Eskandani) is not happy to hear that, but I would like to go to the cash-out window,” Hellmuth said. “I’ll take on another great opponent [in High Stakes Duel III], and it could be Tom Dwan, it could be Phil Ivey, it could be one of the younger guys as there are some great young players out there right now. So I’m going to play another great player, and I just have to win that first match, and that’s it.”
Negreanu managed to draw first blood on Wednesday and had Hellmuth pacing and talking to himself after just 40 minutes of play. At the time, Negreanu held 60% of the chips in play. Ten minutes later, Hellmuth bluffed his way to a pivotal pot that gave the 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner a chip lead for the first time.
Negreanu opened to 10,500 with before Hellmuth fired back with a three-bet to 4,800 with . Negreanu re-raised to 13,000 and Hellmuth took his time before putting in a fifth bet to 35,000. Negreanu called and the flop came . Hellmuth check-called Negreanu’s bet of 21,000. The turn gave Hellmuth a flush draw and he led out for 42,000. Negreanu used one time extension card before he eventually folded. The 154,000 pot gave Hellmuth a small lead.
Negreanu eventually regained the lead and once again held 60% of the chips in play when Hellmuth’s preflop aggression paid him a huge dividend. Negreanu raised to 2,500 with and Hellmuth fired back with a raise to 11,000 with . Negreanu called and the flop came to give Hellmuth trip threes. Hellmuth checked, Negreanu bet 7,000, and Hellmuth made it 25,000 to go. Negreanu called to see the turn. Hellmuth checked again, Negreanu bet 35,000 and Hellmuth quickly moved all in for 126,000. For the next three minutes, Negreanu contemplated his decision before calling and seeing he was 19-1 underdog. The river was no help for Negreanu and he was left with 74,800.
Hellmuth held onto the chip lead for the next three hours before Negreanu won a 213,500 chip pot to put himself back on top. Hellmuth needed just one hand to get his lead back and then ended things two hands later.
Negreanu called with and Hellmuth checked his option with . The flop gave both players gutshot straight draws while Hellmuth also picked up a flush draw. Hellmuth check-called Negreanu’s 6,000 bet. The turn brought the straight for both players with Hellmuth holding the ten-high straight. Hellmuth checked and Negreanu bet 12,000. Hellmuth raised to 30,0000 and Negreanu took a moment before moving all in for 172,000 and Hellmuth called. The river wasn’t one of three outs Negreanu had for a chop and Hellmuth claimed his sixth victory in this format.
After coming back from a 19-1 chip deficit in the opening match and then navigating his way through a second match with multiple chip leads for each player, Hellmuth believed that the third match allowed him the opportunity to further prove he’s one of the best players in the world.
“This was the match I played my best poker. He started with an amazing card rush and got me down before I went for the crazy bluff with the eight-three of clubs. I just went nuts. I thought he couldn’t call me, and I was right,” Hellmuth said. “After that hand, I felt really confident and said, ‘This is great, I’m going to win this thing,’ and then I got him down to 60,000, and I had 340,000. But you know, I’ve played a lot of poker in my life, and I’ve seen people come back, and even I came back once. It was just a matter of staying focused, and I knew I just didn’t want to make any mistakes.”
Plans for High Stakes Duel III, including the date and Hellmuth’s opponent, have not been announced yet.