Stakes got too rich

High Stakes Duel has a new champion. On Monday, PokerGO announced that nobody wanted to challenge Jason Koon, thus allowing him to keep the title belt and to forever be known as the High Stakes Duel III champ.

A month ago, Koon defeated Phil Hellmuth in High Stakes Duel III Round 5, which had a buy-in of $800,000. Hellmuth declined a rematch, which opened a 30-day window for anyone else to step up and take on Koon in Round 6. But with a buy-in of $1.6 million, it was highly unlikely anyone would do so. Thus, with that challenger window now closed, Jason Koon is the new High Stakes Duel champion.

PokerGO has not announced the start date for High Stakes Duel IV, likely because the first matchup has yet to be determined.

In the first round of any High Stakes Duel season, stakes begin with a $50,000 buy-in. To be crowned champ, a player must win three rounds in a row if their winning streak begins in Rounds 1-3. From Round 4 and after, a player need only win two consecutive rounds. When a round is completed, the loser has the option of a rematch. As mentioned above, should the loser decline, anyone else can step in within 30 days. The winner is obligated to accept a rematch or a new challenger unless they have completed a long enough winning streak. Stakes double each round.

Hellmuth has dominated

Though Phil Hellmuth is no longer the High Stakes Duel champion, he remains the gold standard of this competition. He began in High Stakes Duel I by defeating Antonio Esfandiari in three straight rounds and then taking the option to retire and claim the championship.

High Stakes Duel II was effectively a repeat of High Stakes Duel I, this time with Hellmuth beating Daniel Negreanu in three matches.

Things got more interesting in High Stakes Duel III. Hellmuth dispatched of sports pundit Nick Wright in the $50,000 buy-in Round 1, the first and only amateur player of the series. Wright opted against a rematch, so Tom Dwan went for it at the $100,000 buy-in level and delivered Hellmuth his first loss. Hellmuth then elected for the rematch and evened the score, beating Dwan in Round 3.

That was it for Dwan, who was going to play in Round 4 for $400,000 a piece, but had to cancel because of a scheduling conflict. Scott Seiver took over for Dwan and lost to Hellmuth. With stakes now up to $800,000 in Round 5, Seiver was going to rematch Hellmuth, but withdrew for personal reasons. In a bit of a surprise, Koon took his place and beat Hellmuth.

Because Hellmuth’s latest winning streak began in Round 3 with his rematch with Tom Dwan, he needed to win that Round 5 match against Koon to retain his High Stakes Duel title. Koon would have needed a Round 6 win, but because nobody challenged him after he defeated Hellmuth, he became champ.

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