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As if he didn’t already have enough star aura, 16-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth has proved he’s considered one of the toughest players in the game today.
On Tuesday, May 17, Hellmuth took a seat opposite the three-time WSOP champion, Scott Seiver, in the highly anticipated Round 4 of High Stakes Duel III, and guess what? Hellmuth defeated Seiver after a long-drawn swingy match, extending his winning record in High Stakes Duel to 9-1, collecting $800,000 in prize money.
However, Hellmuth cannot encash his winnings just yet and will have to play at least one more match. Seiver, who had stepped in after Tom Dwan backed out due to “schedule conflicts,” gets the first right to a rematch. But should Seiver decline, a new contender will be invited to jump into the ring with the undisputed High Stakes Duel champion for the $1.60 Million Round 5.
Like the previous matches, Round 4 took place in the PokerGO Studio at ARIA Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, with each player putting down an unprecedented $400K on the table.
The heads-up match was as swingy as it can get, and till 200 hands, Hellmuth held a steady 3-to-1 chip lead, but Seiver fought back. A cooler saw the situation reversed with Seiver’s pocket queens scoring a double up against the pocket jacks of Hellmuth.
PokerGO even tweeted the hand.
Still live right now on PokerGO. pic.twitter.com/sR3sgiCMqj
— PokerGO (@PokerGO) May 18, 2022
The turning point in the hard-fought match came when Hellmuth check-raised bluffed the river with ace-high, getting Seiver to fold his rivered pair. Hellmuth surged into the chip lead and soon pulled ahead into a 4-to-1 advantage.
When asked if that was a turning point in the match, Hellmuth agreed. “It was,” he said. “If he calls, I probably lose the match. I’m probably down to 50,000 or 60,000 in chips. A lot of these matches I’ve played, I’ve put it on the line with a bluff, a big bluff. A lot of the time, my opponent is super strong, and so far, they’ve made these folds. Everyone criticizes them, ‘How could you fold? How could you fold?’ Because I don’t bluff very often. So, when I’m finally putting in big money, I usually have it. I’m also aware that they think I usually have it. But I put it on the line in that hand, and he almost called. If he does call, he wins the match. Antonio [Esfandiari], if he calls, he wins the match. Daniel [Negreanu], if he calls once, he wins the match. So far, my timing has been exceptional with the bluffs, and they’ve folded some very strong hands.”
Hellmuth later said about Seiver, “He was just tough, and that’s what I was expecting. He’s one of the world’s greatest players and one of the best of his generation. I knew it would be a tough match, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed playing against him.”
The heads-up match played out more than 327 hands, officially becoming the longest one in High Stakes Duel history. It overtook the record of 327 hands set in Round 1 of High Stakes Duel II that played out between Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.
You can watch the first 30 minutes of the High Stakes Duel III Round 4 below. You can watch the full match on subscription on PokerGO.
If Seiver hoped to win the match, he certainly had a formidable opponent sitting across the table. Hellmuth had already proved himself to be the king of the High Stakes Duel ring, having won eight of the previous nine matches. He scored washout victories over Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Negreanu before taking on FS1 talk show personality Nick Wright in Round 1 of High Stakes Duel III. The only match Hellmuth has lost in the format is to Tom Dwan in Round 2 of the High Stakes Duel III, who stepped in after Wright refused a rematch.
Hellmuth and Dwan clashed again in Round 3 on January 26, where Hellmuth was able to exact vengeance. The duo was to fight last Thursday again in the Round 4 match, but Dwan had to pull out due to a scheduling conflict.
Seiver replaced Dwan, making him the fifth opponent Hellmuth has faced in the High Stakes Duel.
Hellmuth vs. Seiver: High Stakes Duel III – Round 4
The Round 4 match took off after Nick Schulman hosted “The Weigh In.” Talking to Schulman, Hellmuth called Seiver one of the greatest players in the world and that he doesn’t get to choose his opponent. Hellmuth also let out that Schulman was also a potential Round 4 challenger.
Hellmuth quickly grabbed the lead when the match began after picking off Seiver’s ace-high bluff with a two-pair. Hellmuth soon tried to execute his bluff with ten-high, but Seiver turned trips before the river checked through, climbing back on top.
Both players jostled before Seiver took down two pots in quick succession. In one of them, Hellmuth had hit trip kings, but folded on the river to Seiver’s bet, with the latter holding only nine-high! By Level 6, Seiver was firmly ahead of Hellmuth.
The to-and-fro continued as Seiver flopped top set against Hellmuth’s second pair, subsequently improving to quads on the river. Hellmuth lost the pot, dropping down to his lowest point in the match.
The poker brat managed to grind his way back up and reclaim the lead. It was soon Hellmuth’s turn to collect a massive pot. Holding , he three-bet the big blind – for the third time in a row. Seiver called with . Both players checked the flop. Hellmuth bet on the turn. Seiver called to see the on the river. Hellmuth fired a bet of 120K, forcing Seiver to muck his superior hand, raking in the 290K pot.
Not long after, Seiver raised to 11,000 with and Hellmuth three-bet. Seiver called to see the flop open . Both players checked through to the turn. After the river double-paired the board, Hellmuth bet with his ace-high, and Seiver, who had spiked two-pair with his king-high, mucked. Hellmuth won the 120K pot to take an over 2-to-1 chip lead.
Over the first 200 hands, Hellmuth was ahead with an almost 3:1 advantage, holding 600K to Seiver’s 200K. It wasn’t easy for Hellmuth, though, since Seiver fought back.
One of the most exciting moments of the match was when Seiver climbed into the lead after winning a queens-versus-jacks cooler. A tilted Hellmuth then three-bet with , and Seiver called off with . Hellmuth fired a continuation bet on the flop. Both players had spiked a pair, and Seiver called to see the turn. The action went check-check, and after the river, Hellmuth bet, and Seiver called, taking down the 216K pot to gain a 3-to-1 chip lead.
The match continued to be a roller-coaster, but Hellmuth kept his lead. In a hand where Seiver rivered a pair holding ace-king and bet, Hellmuth made a big check-raise. Seiver folded his hand, and Hellmuth added more chips to his stack. Soon, Hellmuth clawed his way to a 4-to-1 chip advantage.
The last hand of the match saw Seiver, who held , flop top pair on the runout . Hellmuth with hit the bottom two-pair and raised to 60K. Seiver jammed for 226K and Hellmuth called. The turn and the river brought no help for Seiver.
Hugging Seiver after the match, Hellmuth said, “I had more fun playing with you than anyone else … I just enjoy the way you handle yourself.”
Now that Hellmuth has won Round 4, he will have his sights on winning Round 5, with the stakes rising to $1.60 Million. A win in Round 5 will give Hellmuth the chance to walk away with the seven-figure prize and his third-consecutive High Stakes Duel championship belt.
As for Seiver, he has 30 days to decide whether to challenge Hellmuth for a rematch. If he chooses to do so, Seiver will have to win two consecutive matches to become the High Stakes Duel III champion.
Seiver had confirmed before his Round 4 match that he intended to play a rematch if he lost! However, with the stakes raised higher than ever, we’ll have to wait and watch whether Seiver agrees to take on Hellmuth in Round 5.
Cover Image Courtesy: PokerGO.com