Looking for redemption

Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan are almost set for another heads-up battle. Over the weekend, Hellmuth tweeted that he has formally challenged Dwan to a High Stakes Duel III rematch:

The gauntlet throw-down comes about a week and a half after Dwan dispatched Hellmuth in Round 2 of PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel III, winning $100,000. The two men would risk $200,000 each in Round 3 if it comes to that.

Round 1 was the first in which an amateur participated, as Hellmuth defeated sports media personality Nick Wright. Wright opted not to continue, hence making the Hellmuth/Dwan bout Round 2, even though it was the first match between them.

In High Stakes Duel, the first round skirmish has a $50,000 buy-in. The loser of the match then has the option to ask for a rematch for double the stakes. If the loser (should we say “runner-up”?) decides to call it a day, a new player can step up to the plate against the reigning champ. The vacated seat remains open for 30 days.

High Stakes Duel can go as long as eight rounds. With the buy-in doubling each round, this means that the total prize pool could climb as high as $12.8 million. None of the editions of High Stakes Duel, however, have gone more than three rounds.

Hellmuth had dominated to this point

Late last year, Hellmuth dispatched Antonio Esfandiari, sweeping three rounds. He did the same to Daniel Negreanu a few months ago. In each match, the 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner walked away $350,000 richer. And then there was the contest against Wright, who was way out of his league and he knew it. For him, it was more about the challenge of squaring off against Phil Hellmuth.

Wright smartly did not request a rematch, so Dwan took up the mantle. And with the way High Stakes Duel works when it comes to round numbering, Dwan’s first match against Hellmuth was Round 2, since Wright’s battle was Round 1.

So now Hellmuth has finally lost a game and finds himself down $100,000 to Dwan. Immediately after their first match, Hellmuth was non-committal about a second, saying, “I’m not sure if I’m going to challenge. I need to go watch the match and then I’ll decide.”

But come on, it’s Phil Hellmuth. He’s not going to back down after one loss. Now, should he fall a second time, it would not be out of the question that he would finally call it quits. Not only would the buy-in be $400,000 for Round 4, but the World Series of Poker could get in the way. Though Round 3 has not been scheduled, conventional wisdom is that it will be some time this month, before the September 30 start of the World Series of Poker. And since the WSOP is Hellmuth’s jam, we shouldn’t expect him to want to play during the Series (though I have certainly been wrong before when it comes to poker predictions).

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