Hellmuth need not risk a side bet

For a guy who is retired from poker, Doug Polk certainly likes playing poker for tons of money. Then again, if I could beat the best poker players in the world and win millions of dollars in the process, I’d probably unretire briefly, too. And so Polk is looking for another big score, this time challenging Phil Hellmuth to a heads-up battle.

To entice the 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner to play him for 25,000 hands of $200/$400 No-Limit Hold’em, Polk has offered to put up a $1 million side bet if he loses. Hellmuth is not required to risk anything except the money that would be on the two simultaneous tables, 100 big blinds deep.

Hellmuth has yet to respond to the challenge Polk issued on Twitter, but he did retweet it, likely both gauging the public’s interest and engaging in his usual self-promotion.

Hellmuth busy against Daniel Negreanu

Should Hellmuth agree to the challenge, Polk will likely have to wait until “The Poker Brat” is done with his bout with Daniel Negreanu on PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel 2. Last Wednesday night, Hellmuth took the second of what will likely be three heads-up matches between the two, filmed at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas.

Hellmuth has taken both rounds. He won the first in improbable fashion, coming back after being down to just 4,000 chips (blinds were 100/200) out of his 100,000-chip starting stack. Last week’s second round was not quite as dramatic, but Hellmuth still found himself down almost 3-to-1 at one point before he advanced to the victory.

Both players put up $50,000 for the first match and $100,000 for the second. The third will have a $200,000 buy-in, so Negreanu can still come out ahead even if he only wins one round. Hellmuth previously swept Antonio Esfandiari in three rounds, putting his record at an impressive 5-0 so far.

Polk trounced Negreanu in a previous challenge

And just as Hellmuth has one-on-one experience with Negreanu, so does Polk. Polk famously came out of poker retirement to play 25,000 hands of $200/$400 No-Limit Hold’em against “Kid Poker” in order to settle a long-standing grudge between the two.

Polk was the odds-on favorite, as he was once considered one of the best online heads-up cash game players in the world. Negreanu, the Poker Hall of Famer he is, is mostly known for his live, large-field tournament prowess. And, as expected, Polk ran away with it. By the time the 25,000th hand was hit, Polk was up an astounding $1.2 million. Negreanu did have the option to call it quits halfway through, but to his credit, he kept going, never able to dig himself out of the hole.

Though Polk and Negreanu got into the “grudge match” because of bad blood between them, it seems like they came out of it with respect for one another. Despite the bludgeoning, Polk appeared impressed with Negreanu’s heads-up skill and Negreanu clearly saw how good his opponent was. The two even publicly discussed the possibility of doing a podcast episode(s) to discuss some of the hands.

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