Phil Hellmuth has been able to achieve the eighth victory of his nine appearances at the PokerGO High Stakes Duel show. On Wednesday, 26th of January, Hellmuth has managed to defeat Tom Dwan in a very competitive and highly anticipated rematch. Phil Hellmuth acknowledges his opponent’s skills after his triumph by saying the following: 

“It feels good. Tom is just one of the greatest players in the world. I like to use the term ‘natural-born hold’em player.’ I think there are about 10 natural-born hold’em players in the world. I’m one of the 10, for sure. What do I have, 13 world championships in hold’em or something? Plus, just 50 final tables in hold’em. So yeah, I’m one of them.”

Just as a reminder, Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan went up against each other back in August. Prior to that game, Hellmuth had a record of 7 victories and no defeats. Some of his opponents were Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, and Nick Wright. However, Tom Dwan was able to end this streak by beating Hellmuth in a heads-up duel. 

Round 3 had a $400,000 prize pool. That came from Tom Dwan buying in for $100,000 and Hellmuth contributing the other $300,000, as he owned $200,000 due to his lost in Round 2. The heads-up game kicked off on PokerGO at 1:00 a.m. GMT. The game was translated live from the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas. The battle surely did not disappoint. It was a lengthy matchup with plenty of action. Read on for the full coverage. 

The Start of the Duel

Both players played it safe at the start of the game. Tom Dwan and Phil Hellmuth were just testing the waters, so there were no fireworks early on in the battle. Dwan did manage to hit a straight flush on the river, but that gave him a relatively small pot. On top of that, Hellmuth got another small pot after a rivered flush. Then, Tom Dwan attempted an interesting min-check-raise from the flop with his bottom pair, but that did not result in anything notable. The early stages of the duel were not that eventful. Both players played very tight and neither of the players was able to bust out to a large lead. In some ways, this was quite similar to the previous duel between these two poker players. However, this time it was even closer. 

After an hour of play, Hellmuth has managed to river three-of-a-kind, which was enough to beat Dwan’s top pair at the time. He won a decent pot, which almost evened out the score at 200,000 chips (the size of the starting stack). Hellmuth was able to increase his momentum by winning another pot. With around 12,000 in the center of the table, the board ran 7 4 10 A. Hellmuth decided to check with his K 10 and Dwan semi-bluffed for 9,600 with his K 2. Phil Hellmuth responded with a min-check-raise to 19,200 and Dwan called. The 9 on the river did not change the situation and both players checked, as Dwan decided not to follow through with his bluff. As a result, Hellmuth took down a 50,000 chip pot, which was the largest of the match-up at that point. This gave him a nice lead of 231,000 to 169,000. 

Phil Hellmuth on the Roll

Even though Phil Hellmuth isn’t known as a particularly aggressive poker player, he knows how to pull off a well-timed bluff as he showed in his first eight High Stakes Duel matches. With that said, Phil Hellmuth did manage to perform some aggressive moves at times during his duel with Dwan. In one of the hands, he made a huge three-bet preflop with 6 3 off-suit. Here is what Hellmuth had to say about his playstyle after the game: 

“I thought that I had to play a little faster against him because he’s so good. He’s so good, he’s always there, he’s making all these good folds, so I thought to step it up a little bit and to make some big bluffs today to win just to kind of get the mojo in my favor. I was hoping with those big bluffs that once he sees that in the next match he’ll adjust. I do better when someone else is making all the big bluffs and not me, but sometimes I have to do one

As mentioned previously, Hellmuth played quite passively at the begniinig. However, he was able to pick up some pace in the middle and late stages of the duel. For example, he three-bet prefloped with 4 2 against Dwan’s J 9. Such strategy worked really well for Hellmuth in his previous High Stakes Duel matchups. In another hand, Hellmuth check-raised Dwan’s 3,000 bet to 13,000 with his 10 6 against Dwan’s Ace-high. This allowed him to snatch the pot a couple of times. 

The End of the Duel

As the duel was coming to an end, Hellmuth continued to apply pressure and increase his momentum. The action really picked up when Hellmuth limped for 800 with his 7 4 on the button. Dwan responded with a massive raise all the way to 5,600 with his pocket tens. Hellmuth responded with a re-raise to 21,000 and Dwan called. Both players checked on the J 2 7 flop. The 7 on the turn made the match loosing for Dwan, whi checked once again, but Hellmuth bet 17,000. This didn’t scare Dwan and he called. The 9 on the river was meaningless and Hellmuth bet another 37,000. Dwan called once again. This hand gave Hellmuth a very confident 3-1 chip lead. 

Hellmuth won another big pot after turning a straight flush in a hand where he raised the preflop ten times with his 3 2 of clubs. This left Dwan with only 70,000 chips. Hellmuth quickly took advantage of his lead and focused on bluffing, which would force Dwan into giving up his good hands. 

The battle culminated when Dwan raised to 7,000 with pocket eights and Hellmuth bet 70,000 with A K, making Tom go all in. The board ran 5 2 K 6 6, which gave Hellmuth the top pair and another victory at the High Stakes Duel. 

Phil Hellmuth Comments on His Opponets

Phil Hellmuth currently has a record of 8 victories and only 1 loss at the High Stakes Duel show. His first three matchups were against Antonio Esfandiari, which all resulted in Hellmuth’s victory. He then continued his winning streak by playing Daniel Negreanu three times and winning all of the games once again. Hellmuth’s only loss happened in August, when he was defeated by Tom Dwan in a memorable game. The way that game happened is pretty interesting. According to the rules of the show, Hellmuth could cash out after three straight wins. He did that with Negreanu and Esfandiari, which denied them of a re-match. The seat was left open for Nick Wright, who lost a game during the first round on High Stakes Duel III. Wright declined this opportunity and Dwan replaced him for $100,000. Here is what Phil Hellmuth had to say about his opponents at the High Stakes Duel:

“They’re all tough. Antonio’s tough in his way. He puts a lot of pressure on you, a lot of heat on you. He talks a lot, rubs it in when things are going bad for you. So, you really have to struggle to stay level.”

Even though Hellmuth won all three matches against Negreanu, he did mention how tough it was for him:

“And then Daniel, it was super measured,” the Poker Hall of Famer continued. “(He’d say) ‘here’s the chart how I’m going to beat you,’ all that b******t that I was incredibly insulted by. It was kind of mean of him to attack me like that. But Daniel’s f*****g tough as nails. If anyone wants to come face Antonio and Daniel, I’ll bet on Antonio and Daniel.”

Hellmuth’s seventh match was against Nick Wright. Wright is sports talk personalist, so he was the only amateur thus far on High Stakes Duel. Hellmuth was surprised by how well Wright was playing and he actually managed to put his in some tought spots. However, there is no denying that Dwan has been the most difficult opponent for Hellmuth so far. He considers him to be “natural born hold’em player” and noted his unpredictability. 

Will There Be Another Matchup?

Hellmuth is yet to collect his $400,000 prize pool after his win against Tom Dwan. However, he is not eligible to cash out until he wins at least one more match. He needs to do that even if Dwan declines a rematch. But, it is already known that Dwan notified his opponent that he will challenge him for another duel. If this happens, Dwan will have to pay $400,000 in order to enter the game. The prize pool is going to be $800,000. Mori Eskandani, president of PokerGO, has already announced that he expects to hold Round 4 somewhere in late March or April.