Seiver Withdraws and Koon Steps in to Play Hellmuth
As it turns out, it is more difficult than anticipated to recruit poker players to put up $800K to play heads-up poker against Phil Hellmuth.
PokerGO has been trying to push its High Stakes Duel series forward for months, but two players have backed out of the match against Phil Hellmuth, the reigning champion. It started with Tom Dwan first going for the rematch after losing to Hellmuth and then backing out. Then, Scott Seiver stepped up to play…but backed out. Jason Koon is the latest name to sign up to put $800K on the line to challenge Hellmuth.
The only problem is that they have yet to set a date for the match.
Someone might want to get this commitment in writing.
How Hellmuth Stayed on Top
High Stakes Duel began in 2020 with Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari putting their longstanding feud about heads-up skill on the tables. Hellmuth defeated Esfandiari in all three matches. Daniel Negreanu was next and lost all three to Hellmuth as well.
That took Hellmuth to High Stakes Duel III, which started with Fox Sports broadcaster Nick Wright stepping into the ring. He put up $50K tog get started but lost and declined to play again.
It didn’t take long for Tom Dwan to step up and challenge for $100K in the summer of 2021. And Dwan won the match. Hellmuth challenged to regain his title, which he did in January 2022. Dwan was going to play yet again, with that next round set for May 12, 2022.
Just days before Dwan and Hellmuth were to take to the poker table again in the PokerGO Studio, Dwan withdrew due to “scheduling conflicts.”
PokerGO rescheduled the match for May 16 in the hopes that someone with $400K would step up quickly. Scott Seiver did just that and played against Hellmuth in mid-May with $800K in the pot. Hellmuth won it, and Seiver planned to challenge again. They scheduled that rematch for August 22.
Instead of each player putting their $800K into play, Seiver withdrew just a couple of weeks before that match was supposed to happen. Seiver cited personal reasons for the move.
If you win, a new challenger can step up. If Phil wins, HSD 3 is over and Phil is the champ. Again.
PokerGO would like to keep the same broadcast date of August 22 — Reply here or contact Brent Hanks at firstname.lastname@example.org
— PokerGO (@PokerGO) August 12, 2022
A Challenger Emerges
Quite a few interesting people stepped up to express interest in challenging Hellmuth. When PokerGO made it clear that there was no multiple-match commitment – Hellmuth wins entire HSD III if he wins the match, another person can step back if he wins against Hellmuth to make way for a new challenger – players started to send messages.
Newly-crowned WSOP Main Event champion Espen Jorstad hinted that he might challenge. Dan Smith said he would play if they could change the August 22 date. Julien Martini and Ben Lamb entered the conversation. Even Bryn Kenney wanted to play.
— LEGION | Joey Ingram 🐉 (@Joeingram1) August 12, 2022
Koon to Take on Hellmuth
GGPoker Ambassador and longtime poker pro Jason Koon became the challenger.
The date of August 22 was too close, however, at least for Hellmuth. They are in the process of rescheduling and will likely announce a new date for Round 5 of High Stakes Duel in the coming days.
— Jason Koon (@JasonKoon) August 15, 2022
It is perfectly reasonable that Koon would have the $800K to play. He is a regular in high-stakes poker tournaments and has carved out quite a life in poker for himself. In addition, he has the calm demeanor to handle a volatile personality like Hellmuth. And Koon certainly has the talent and the ability to adjust his style as a heads-up match goes on.
When PokerGO announces a date, players can begin the real discussion of skills and name their favorite going into the match.