Phil Hellmuth doesn’t have anything to prove anymore. Not only is the Poker Hall of Fame member the all-time World Series of Poker bracelet leader with 16 titles won at the series, he is also one of just 34 players to ever cash for more than $20 million on the tournament circuit. The 57-year-old poker pro is far from done adding to the already legendary resume, though. Hellmuth’s most recent addition was his eighth match win on PokerGO’s popular heads-up show, ‘High Stakes Duel’. He defeated fan-favorite high-stakes cash game star Tom Dwan to earn $400,000.
“It feels good. Tom is just one of the greatest players in the world. I like to use the term ‘natural-born hold’em player.’ I think there are about 10 natural-born hold’em players in the world,” Hellmuth told PokerGO reporters after coming out on top. “I’m one of the 10, for sure. What do I have, 13 world championships in hold’em or something? Plus, just 50 final tables in hold’em. So yeah, I’m one of them.”
Hellmuth had lost the previous round against Dwan, which saw the end of his seven-match winning streak. His run began with a three-match sweep of Antonio Esfandiari. He backed that up with another clean sweep against Daniel Negreanu. His final win of the streak came against sports commentator Nick Wright in the first round of ‘High Stakes Duel III’. Wright decided against continuing, and Dwan was brought in as the next opponent.
Dwan won that round 2 match in August of 2021 thanks to his pocket tens cracking the pocket aces of Hellmuth with all of the chips in before the flop. The two met again for the third round of ‘High Stakes Duel III’, with each putting up $200,000 to create the $400,000 winner-take-all prize.
The two battled for roughly three hours in this latest match. The two traded small leads for most of the first two hours of the showdown, with one key highlight being an impressive laydown from Hellmuth that helped him maintain his advantage. Hellmuth limped in from the button for 1,200 total with QDiamond Suit5Diamond Suit and Dwan checked KDiamond Suit6Diamond Suit from the bigblind. The KSpade SuitKClub Suit10Club Suit flop gave Dwan trips and he checked. Dwan check-called a bet of 1,500 from Hellmuth. The QHeart Suit saw both players check. The QSpade Suit gave both players full house. Dwan checked again. Hellmuth made a small bet of 1,200 into the pot of 5,400. Dwan check-raised to 6,500. Hellmuth thought it over before laying down the underfull to send a smaller pot than might have been to Dwan.
Hellmuth extended his advantage with turned trips beating the pocket tens of Dwan in a chunky pott hat saw him take a 3:1 lead. By the time the final hand of the match was dealt, he had pulled even further ahead. Hellmuth picked up AClub SuitKSpade Suit and limped in from the button for 2,000 total. Dwan raised to 7,000 from the big blind with 8Heart Suit8Club Suit. Hellmuth moved all-in and Dwan made the call. The board came down KDiamond Suit5Diamond Suit2Heart Suit6Heart Suit6Diamond Suit and Hellmuth made kings and sixes to secure the pot and the win.
Dwan announced the following morning that he would rematch against Hellmuth, setting up battle for $800,000.
“The next match is for $800,000. If I lose, I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to pony up $800,000 to play again, but I bet he will,” said Hellmuth. “If he doesn’t, then someone else will. I have to win twice more, and it could be Dwan then [Phil] Ivey, or Dwan then Dwan, if I can win the next match.”
Photo credits: PokerGO / Antonio Abrego.