Bluffing his way to victory

Oh look, something new. Phil Hellmuth won a High Stakes Duel match. On Tuesday night, for the ninth time in ten tries, Hellmuth defeated his opponent in the heads-up poker battle and for the largest prize in the made-for-streaming show’s brief history.

Hellmuth took down Scott Seiver in High Stakes Duel Round 4, the first time High Stakes Duel has seen a fourth round. Both men put up $400,000 in Seiver’s first appearance in the competition.

It was a back-and-forth match, but Hellmuth used two big bluffs to push to victory. After falling behind, but getting back to just under what he started with, Hellmuth had nine-high and three-bet pre-flop, which Seiver called. Both players checked the flop (a pair was showing) and Hellmuth led out with more than half pot-sized bet when he turned a gutshot draw. Seiver called with just Ace-high. The river made a diamond flush possible and Hellmuth bet 120,000 with air, leaving only about 180,000 behind. Seiver folded.

Later, Hellmuth was once again struggling, facing about a 2.3-to-1 chip deficit. Seiver had A-K and rivered a pair, so he bet. Hellmuth check-raised with the worse hand. If Seiver had called – which he didn’t – Hellmuth would have been down to ten big blinds. Seiver was in bad shape, and even though he doubled-up, he still found himself down nearly 2-to-1.

On the final hand, Seiver flopped top pair, but ended up all-in against Hellmuth’s bottom two pair. Nothing else helped and that was that.

Hellmuth nearly perfect on High Stakes Duel

Speaking afterward about his bluffs, Hellmuth told PokerGO, “A lot of the time, my opponent is super strong, and so far, they’ve made these folds. Everyone criticizes them, ‘how could you fold? How could you fold?’ because I don’t bluff very often. So, when I’m finally putting in big money, I usually have it. I’m also aware that they think I usually have it. But I put it on the line in that hand, and he almost called [on the second bluff].”

It is now on to an unprecedented Round 5…possibly. Phil Hellmuth currently has a two-match winning streak after having beaten Tom Dwan in Round 3. Per the High Stakes Duel rules, if a player begins a winning streak in Rounds 1-3, he or she must win three in a row before being allowed to cash out. Thus, Hellmuth needs to win one more. If a streak starts in Round 4 or later, the player needs only a streak of two.

It is up to Scott Seiver now as to whether or not there will be a rematch. If he wants one, each player must put up $800,000. If he declines a rematch, a 30-day window starts during which anyone else can take his place and challenge Hellmuth for an $800,000 buy-in. If it wasn’t apparent, stakes double each round.

Phil Hellmuth beat Antonio Esfandiari three times in a row in High Stakes Duel I, then did the same to Daniel Negreanu in High Stakes Duel II. He began High Stakes Duel III by defeating sports commentator Nick Wright, who opted out of a rematch. Tom Dwan stepped in for Round 2 to hand Hellmuth his first loss. Hellmuth got revenge in Round 3, bringing about the Round 4 match against Scott Seiver.

Image credit: PokerGO.com

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