When the brouhaha first sprang up between poker champions Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu, it was thought that it would be a rapid event. It turns out, however, that you’re going to have to wait for the next installment. As announced recently, Round 2 of the battle will not occur until May, giving the Hellmuth/Negreanu High Stakes Duel 2 more of a heavyweight fight feel than a heads-up poker match.
Mark Your Calendars for May 5
While appearing on the Jeff Platt & Brett Hanks podcast No Gamble, No Future, Hellmuth and Negreanu discussed their Round 1 tete a tete. Before they even got to the discussion of their poker play, however, Hellmuth let the cat out of the bag regarding Round 2 of the battle. It will take place on May 5 at 8PM at the studios of PokerGO in Las Vegas, which will stream the festivities for their subscribers.
The rules for the next event will remain the same as the first. Negreanu will buy in for $100,000 in Round 2 – Hellmuth, after winning Round 1 for a $100,000 payday, is playing with Negreanu’s money – and the heads-up sit-and-go will kick off at 100/200 stakes and 30-minute levels. The two poker legends will play until one player has all the chips.
The High Stakes Duel format is also set for a three-round minimum, meaning we will see one more of these battles. That match will see one of the players buy in for $200,000 and the same rules will apply. After Round 3, the losing player from the previous round will have the option of waving the “white flag” and calling an end to the festivities.
So far, this format has played right into Hellmuth’s wheelhouse. He went 3-0 versus Antonio Esfandiari in late 2020 for a $400,000 score and he has now gotten off on the right foot against Negreanu – but it wasn’t without a bit of a battle.
Six Hour Marathon Tests Both Players
This edition of High Stakes Duel was borne out of previous criticism that Hellmuth levied against Negreanu. During Negreanu’s 25,000-hand fight against Doug Polk, Hellmuth administered withering criticism against Negreanu’s play on the tables. Negreanu not only challenged Hellmuth in response, but he also went as far as to state that Hellmuth wasn’t a good poker player and that the “high stakes” players would chew him up.
Hellmuth accepted both challenges, putting his attention on the High Stakes Duel first. On April Fool’s Day, the duo squared off in the PokerGO studios with the barbs, the cards, and the chips flying. Negreanu used some unorthodox moves and fortuitous draw outs to take a dominant lead against the 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, at one point holding all but 3000 of the chips in play.
Many would not have faulted Hellmuth for letting the match go and preparing for the next battle, but that is not in his nature. Hellmuth fought back and, over the span of the six-hour match, eventually pulled back even with Negreanu and would eventually put him away. The $50,000 that Negreanu had put up for Round 1 was in Hellmuth’s pocket and basically allows him a freeroll into the Round 2 action.
The poker world has been paying attention to this battle, especially after Negreanu’s $1.2 million loss to Polk earlier in 2021. Whether the High Stakes Duel ever reaches those stakes will be intriguing, but there is a long way to go before we can conceive of those numbers.