With the World Series of Poker lurking a month away, many did not expect this news when it came out today. In a bit of a surprise, High Stakes Duel will return with brand new competitors – or at least ONE new competitor. Beginning next weekend, Daniel Negreanu will step to the felt and take on high roller Eric Persson in what has become a favorite of poker fans across the PokerGO streams.
Negreanu v. Persson Battle Under New Rules
From May 8-9, Negreanu and Persson will be entertaining the masses through the PokerGO streaming service beginning at 8 PM (EDT). There will be some different rules for this run of High Stakes Duel, however, in that it will not be a singular match between the players. To be declared the champion of this fourth edition of the made-for-streaming program, a player will have to win twice – the first $50,000 buy-in match (on May 8) and the subsequent $100,000 soiree (on May 9). Should the players split the first two matches, then the loser of the second match will have the option of continuing, but they will have to immediately declare that they are exercising that option or forfeit their rights and be eliminated.
For the first time with High Stakes Duel, there will be an undercard event on the program, and it might draw more attention than the Negreanu/Persson tussle. In that matchup, Shawn Deeb will step on the felted battleground with $10,000 against Mike Matusow. This matchup, which is a one-time-only clash, will be offered for free to the poker community through PokerGO and on the PokerGO YouTube channel.
The matchup of Negreanu and Persson may be intriguing, but it is the Deeb/Matusow tete a tete might be the one that draws significant attention. Both have no issue with inserting the needle under an opponent’s skin and they can be particularly vicious with those barbs. Neither man is saying much over the Twitterscape, so expect the bombast to begin immediately when they do get to the felt.
Surprise Duel So Close to WSOP
This is as close to the WSOP as High Stakes Duel has ever held one of its special gatherings. The first battle goes back to 2020 when Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari squared off on the baize. Through three rounds of battle, Hellmuth could not be touched by “The Magician” as he walked away with $350.000 of Esfandiari’s money.
At that point, Esfandiari decided to walk away from the match and Hellmuth was able to seize the Championship Belt for High Stakes Duel. Egged on with some trash talk between the duo, Hellmuth defended his championship belt against Negreanu in 2021. The outcome was the same as the Hellmuth/Esfandiari battle, with “The Poker Brat” earning three straight victories and another $350,000, this time out of Negreanu’s pocket.
After six straight wins, people were not exactly lining up to take on the former World Champion. Still, High Stakes Duel 3 saw a surprise competitor for Hellmuth in the form of Fox Sports 1 commentator Nick Wright. Wright would put up a spirited battle against the sixteen-time WSOP bracelet winner, but he would fall in the end and decide against a rematch for $100,000.
With Wright falling away, anyone could now step up and take on Hellmuth if they ponied up the $100,000 buy-in. That “anyone” turned out to be Tom Dwan, who ended the Hellmuth streak at seven matches. Hellmuth did not back down, however, immediately stepping back in the cage for a $200,000 match with ‘durrrr.’ Hellmuth would have his revenge, taking that match and, after Dwan had a scheduling conflict, it looked as if Hellmuth would win his third straight Duel.
For the first time, a match went to Round 4 and, instead of facing Dwan, Hellmuth had to go up against Scott Seiver. The player change did not slow down Hellmuth as he defeated Seiver and scooped up $400K of Seiver’s money. As the WSOP came to a close in 2022, Seiver and Hellmuth would look to battle again, but Seiver would eventually back out of the match.
Enter Jason Koon. Koon and Hellmuth each plopped $800,000 in a Round 5 match that marked the deepest run in the series in its history. Just this last December, Koon would run out to a big lead early against Hellmuth and never let the veteran back into the match. Instead of going to a Round 6 battle (with a $1.6 million buy-in), Hellmuth relinquished the crown and Koon was victorious in High Stakes Duel 3.
Who will emerge victorious between Negreanu and Persson? Will it go further than the five rounds just completed back in December? And will the Deeb/Matusow pregame festivities overshadow the newest High Stakes Duel? These questions and more will be answered beginning on May 8 as one of poker’s most popular streaming outlets returns to PokerGO.