Dwan Defeats Hellmuth to End High Stakes Duel Streak
It was bound to happen eventually, and Tom Dwan was the man to do it. He broke Phil Hellmuth’s streak of winning matches in High Stakes Duel at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas.
The heads-up match between Dwan and Hellmuth wasn’t about the money. These types of games rarely are. There may have been $100K in the pot from each player to participate, but that wasn’t life-changing money for either player.
For Hellmuth, it was about his reputation, defending his streak as the only winner of High Stakes Duel thus far. He took on Antonio Esfandiari and won three rounds…and took $350K from Esfandiari. Hellmuth then took on Daniel Negreanu and won the same number of rounds and amount of money from him. A new type of competitor stepped in; Fox Sports broadcaster Nick Wright thought he had the amateur edge, but Hellmuth took $50K from him. And that one round was enough for Wright, who declined to challenge again.
That left High Stakes Duel III over with only one round…until Tom Dwan stepped up to the plate.
Each player put in $100K to play heads-up No Limit Hold’em at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas on the evening of August 25 for Round 2 of HSD III.
More Than a Few Years of Contention
Phil Hellmuth started his poker career years before Tom Dwan even thought about it. The elder of the two was winning tournaments in 1988…when Dwan was only a couple years old. Hellmuth won his first WSOP Main Event title before Dwan even entered kindergarten.
But Dwan came on the scene during the poker boom as an online poker superstar, known in most circles as “durrrr.” He had a talent for the game that started online and transferred to live cash games and tournaments. And he had a calm assuredness about him that was the opposite of Hellmuth’s brash and braggadocious way.
The two poker players first clashed at the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Championship. When Tom handily and quickly won the match, Hellmuth said, “We’ll see if you’ll even be around in five years.” More than a dozen years later, Dwan is considered one of the greats of the game, as is Hellmuth. And that burned Hellmuth’s butt.
They clashed on televised SNGs and cash games in the following years, too. Their differences in style and skill played out on the felt every time.
Needless to say, both players wanted their performance in High Stakes Duel to make a statement.
The HSD Hype Show gave hosts Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman the opportunity to analyze the match before it happened. They noted that somewhat-contentious relationship between Hellmuth and Dwan as well as the unique qualities of both players.
During the pre-game show, though, Hellmuth and Dwan indicated a much friendlier repertoire, a bit of a camaraderie that developed in poker circles over time. Both admitted that they had grown since 2008 – as people and players – and proven that they earned their respective places in the game.
The very first hand indicated the unpredictability of the match. Dwan received A-8 of clubs and put in a bet, and Hellmuth called with A-2. Hellmuth then checked blind before the all-club K-Q-6 board prompted Dwan to bet. Hellmuth folded. A few hands later, Hellmuth and his K-5 took on the 8-6 of Dwan. And when the flop delivered K-5, they both put chips into the pot to see a K on the turn. Hellmuth bet small, and Dwan stayed in. The Q on the river brought a bet from Hellmuth. Dwan called per the odds and lost.
Hellmuth took some more chips about 30 minutes into play with Q-6 on a Q-6-8-2-A board. Dwan missed his draw with 9-7 but tried to represent a bigger hand, though it didn’t work. That put Hellmuth at 125K and Dwan below 75K.
Dwan ended the first hour seemingly frustrated. At the same time, Hellmuth stunned Nejad and Schulman with his talk of fine food contrasted with his unabashed consumption of a club sandwich and raw pop tart.
Going into the third hour, Dwan remained frustrated but began a resurgence. Dwan soon took a small lead for the first time with Q-T and two pair when Hellmuth’s draws failed. As Dwan took more pots, Hellmuth began talking to himself about hands. Dwan took a big hand holding K-8 and taking middle pair on the flop into a nut flush on the river. Hellmuth tried to bluff with 9-7 and nothing else, but Dwan scooped the 46K pot to send Hellmuth on a walk away from the table to calm himself down.
Tom gonna Tom. Phil gonna Phil.
— PokerGO (@PokerGO) August 26, 2021
The end of the third hour of play found Hellmuth pacing and chatting to himself more regularly as he sunk below 70K and Dwan seemed to have taken control. In fact, Dwan went into that next break with almost a three-to-one chip lead.
Hellmuth invested a good chunk of his remaining chips into a pot with Q-9 on a board of A-9-T-5-9. Dwan folded to that bet with A-4. Over the next 30 minutes, Hellmuth climbed back to about 75K. That took them into the 200th hand of the night.
Dwan Sends Hellmuth to Tilt Land
As the end of the fourth hour approached, Hellmuth had nearly evened the stacks again with A-9 of diamonds on a 7-K-8-6-T board with the flush. Dwan’s K-2 was no good. Hellmuth actually took over the lead again, but Dwan retook it on a subsequent hand with a turned straight against Hellmuth’s middle pair. Hellmuth’s serious cursing began.
Approaching the five-hour mark, Hellmuth was again around the 60K-65K mark. He climbed with a big pot holding T-2 on a J-9-Q-9-K board. Dwan folded his J-4 on the river to give the 38K pot to Hellmuth. But that burst of energy didn’t last long. As Hellmuth got aggressive, Dwan met Hellmuth’s aggression with the same.
Dwan took a 67K pot with just K-2 on a 2-5-9-5-3 board against the 10-8 of Hellmuth. He picked off Hellmuth’s river bet bluff. Hellmuth had just 25K (six big blinds) remaining and pushed with Q-T against the T-7 of Dwan. The board delivered 8-8-J-K-9 for the double-up.
A few hands later, Hellmuth picked up pocket aces and limped. Leaving 18K behind. The flop of 5-2-3 inspired a small bet from Dwan with 9-3, and Hellmuth responded with an all-in move. Dwan called to see the nine on the turn and a blank six on the river.
Dwan ended Hellmuth’s streak.
Look for information soon about the inevitable next round.
— PokerGO Tour (@PokerGOTour) August 26, 2021