Negreanu issues an open invitation
The next heads-up poker challenge we see might be the one we all want. In the past week, both Daniel Negreanu and Antanas “Tony G” Guoga have issued challenges to none other than 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth.
Negreanu, who, like Hellmuth, is enshrined in the Poker Hall of Fame, put out his call to arms just a few days after completing his “grudge match” against Doug Polk. Despite losing a disgusting $1.2 million to Polk, Negreanu seems eager to take on the 1989 WSOP Main Event champ. Or maybe he wants to go head-to-head with Hellmuth because he lost so much money. Maybe he wants to get back on the horse and he thinks Hellmuth is a ripe target.
Kid Poker’s challenge to Hellmuth stemmed from Hellmuth’s criticism of his play against Polk. In an interview on the show “No Gamble, No Future” on the PokerGO streaming service, Hellmuth evaluated Negreanu’s play, saying he was “disappointed” in what he saw. He felt that Negreanu tried to fight fire with fire, rather than playing his own style of poker that has led him to so much success over the years.
Negreanu wasn’t thrilled with the criticism, saying that it was invalid based on the fact that Hellmuth said he didn’t even watch any of the heads-up play. In a tweet, he told Hellmuth he’d take him on, stakes and game be damned:
Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Hellmuth is certainly milking the attention, whether he decides to play or not. For a week now, he has been retweeting comments, sometimes from naysayers who think he can’t beat Negreanu, as well as polls about a possible challenge.
Tony G is back from politics, ready to go
And then there is Antanas “Tony G” Guoga, a former poker pro and mainstay of poker television. He and Hellmuth used to go at it constantly, two men who love to hear themselves talk. He has been out of poker for several years, having decided to run for – and win – a seat in European Parliament, followed by a stint in the Lithuanian Parliament.
Guoga resigned from Parliament about a month ago, saying that “I don’t think I can exact the change desperately needed in national politics.”
Though he has been away from the game, Tony G sounds like he is confident that his abilities are intact, as he issued his own challenge to Hellmuth last Friday. He said he is willing to do it when it is safe to travel, implying he wants to play in person, wants the money to go charity, and of course, he wants the game televised.
So now the question is whether or not Phil Hellmuth will take either player up on their offers. Most poker fans believe that Negreanu is a heavy favorite. Hellmuth has tweeted that he is willing to play Negreanu on PokerGo’s “High Stakes Duel” show, a show where he already beat Antonio Esfandiari, but that is was just three matches, much different than a months-long heads-up cash game.
The poker world is on the edge of its collective seat.