On Wednesday night, the battle continued between 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth and fellow Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu. High Stakes Duel 2 was once again an entertaining affair, but the outcome was no different. In the end, Hellmuth ended up vanquishing his rival, extending his streak on the program to five victories.
Back and Forth Battle at the Start
Whereas the first meeting between these two gladiators was one of heavy swings, the second version was more of a technical fight. From the start, Hellmuth and Negreanu seemed content to simply spar with each other, without a great deal of chips hitting the felt. As it was, Negreanu was able to work his way to the lead in the early going.
Typical of a heads-up match, it was a case of playing one hand too many for Hellmuth. He chose a 6♥ 4♥ to go to battle with, but only limped in. That would prove to be a bad move as he was met with a raise from Negreanu in the big blind, who actually had a hand with pocket Jacks. Hellmuth would make the call, but the story would get worse.
Hellmuth caught a six on the 10-6-3 flop, but it was Negreanu who kept the pressure up by firing out for 1200 chips. Hellmuth wanted to see another card and made the call. Instead of that turn card helping Hellmuth, it would help Negreanu as the J♥ left Hellmuth drawing dead. Hellmuth called another bet out of Negreanu and then really compounded his mistakes when a four came on the river.
Negreanu’s Jacks had ruled from the start and he got the maximum out of them. His river bet was countered by a raise from Hellmuth, who obviously was thinking that his rivered two pair was better than what “Kid Poker” held. Negreanu tried to get Hellmuth to fold by re-raising Hellmuth, who blustered about before making the call. After Negreanu turned up his set, he seized nearly three-quarters (144,000) of the chips in play (200,000).
The “Poker Brat” would stop the bleeding a bit a few hands later. He caught a flush to pull the stacks a bit closer, then lost it when Negreanu earned a better flush than him. The seesaw continued to tilt back and forth as the clock passed the four-hour mark.
Hellmuth Seizes Control of the Match
It was this point that Hellmuth began to make some moves. As the blinds cracked the 1000/2000 mark, a timely bluff gave Hellmuth the lead. With the board reading K-6-6-8-4 Hellmuth, who had been the aggressor the entirety of the hand, moved all his chips to the center with complete air – 9-7. Negreanu was not in great shape himself with his 10-2, but he could not find his way to a call with his winning hand and ceded the lead to Hellmuth.
Now it was Hellmuth with a 3-1 lead and he would close Round Two with a flourish. After a Negreanu raise with pocket eights, Hellmuth went kamikaze with an A♥ 4x and an all-in push. Negreanu made the call and was in great shape as the flop fell J-9-9 with two hearts. The drama increased with another heart on the turn, a six, leaving Hellmuth now drawing to any heart except the eight for the flush (among other things). That particular miracle came on the river as the K♥ came to give Hellmuth the flush and close out the match.
Hellmuth was surprisingly contrite in the aftermath, admitting he “got lucky” to win Round Two. Negreanu, for his part, said that he would see Hellmuth again in Round Three.
When Does it End?
With the victory, Hellmuth has now won five consecutive matches in the High Stakes Duel format. Previously, Hellmuth blanked Antonio Esfandiari 3-0, earning a total of $350,000 from “The Magician” before Esfandiari waved the white flag. With the two wins over Negreanu, Hellmuth has won another $150,000, but the fight is not done yet.
Round Three of the Hellmuth/Negreanu battle will be with the stakes at $200,000 for each player. Should Hellmuth win that, it would make for a $700,000 windfall from Negreanu and Esfandiari. If Negreanu were to “light the lamp” with a win, he would not only end Hellmuth’s streak but end up an overall $50K to the good.
Whichever way Round Three goes, either player would have the option of stopping the High Stakes Duel at that point. Otherwise, the stakes would double again and in each successive match, reaching some levels that might begin to hurt a bit (Round Four would be worth $400,000 for each man, Round Five $800,000, etc.). Expect Round Three sometime in June and, after that, it is up to Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu just how far to take it.
(photo courtesy of PokerGO.com)