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Gossip Column: Fox Sports Broadcaster Nick Wright Will Be Phil Hellmuth’s Next High Stakes Duel Opponent & More

Gossip Column: Fox Sports Broadcaster Nick Wright Will Be Phil Hellmuth’s Next High Stakes Duel Opponent & More
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  • Attreyee Khasnabis July 1, 2021
  • 5 Minutes Read

The self-proclaimed ‘GOAT’ of poker, Phil Hellmuth, is on a six-match heater in PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel. The 15-time bracelet winner had an undefeated run in both High Stakes Duel I and II and has Fox Sports broadcaster Nick Wright looking to end his domination in the third duel. High Stakes Duel III is scheduled to play out Round 1 on July 28 at the PokerGO Studio at the Aria in Las Vegas.

Our next story has more sinister overtones. High-stakes poker player Arnaud Mimran was recently sentenced to 13 years in prison for being the mastermind behind the 2016 kidnapping of Swiss financier Yomi Rodrig.

Moving back to heads-up matches, the Landon TiceBill Perkins challenge is continuing at a relatively brisk pace. A total of 4,907 hands has already been played between the duo of the stipulated 20,000-hand challenge. The rising poker star faced back-to-back defeats and, after 12 sessions, is now just $63,720.4 ahead of Perkins.


Fox Sports Broadcaster Nick Wright Will Face Phil Hellmuth in High Stakes Duel III

The 15-time WSOP bracelet winner, Phil Hellmuth, has shut all the naysayers who claimed the Poker Brat’s game was overrated and his GTO game was weak. After his back-to-back clean sweep victories against Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Negreanu, Hellmuth will be taking on the Fox Sports 1 host Nick Wright as his High Stakes Duel III opponent.

Phil Hellmuth
Phil Hellmuth


The Fox Sports television host announced on Twitter that his heads-up battle with Hellmuth will commence on July 28 at the PokerGO Studio at Aria in Las Vegas.


Wright also appeared on the most recent PokerGO’s YouTube podcast ‘No Gamble, No Future,’ hosted by Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks. The same show had previously dropped Tom Dwan’s name as Hellmuth’s third opponent, only to backtrack later and confirm that Wright will face Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel III.

Nick Wright
Nick Wright


Many poker fans looking forward to seeing Hellmuth take on Dwan were expectedly disappointed by the announcement. However, while the majority of the poker community has been following Hellmuth’s High Stakes Duels, with Wright coming in as his next opponent, the audience of the upcoming heads-up matches will likely extend beyond the realm of poker.

Wright is a beloved sports broadcaster and has been in the industry for over a decade. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in broadcast journalism. During his early years, Wright became a famous sports personality, working as the host of multiple radio stations in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, and Houston. His career earned a boost in 2016 when he joined Fox Sports. He now co-hosts the popular sports TV show ‘First Things First’ with Jenna Wolfe, Kevin Wildes, and Brandon Marshall. The show premiered in September 2017.

Wright is a poker enthusiast with little relevant experience playing major poker games. During his recent appearance on the YouTube podcast, he admitted Hellmuth would have “nothing” to study about his skills and style as he essentially hasn’t played in any big games or tournaments in the past. This, according to Wright, gives him an edge “from a study advantage,” as he said he will focus on watching Hellmuth’s games in preparation for the upcoming battle.

Phil Hellmuth was considered the underdog for the entirety of his match against Negreanu but is undoubtedly a solid favorite to win the match this time around. But Wright has warned that he won’t make it easy for Hellmuth as “he’s in it not just for fun but because he wants to win.” The sports broadcaster has made it clear he does not intend to spend a lot of time studying poker strategy books or learning about solvers, like what Negreanu did. On the contrary, he aims to focus on Hellmuth’s game.

The 56-year-old Hellmuth is a self-proclaimed ‘GOAT’ with more than $24 Million in tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database. The 36-year-old Wright, on the other hand, has no tournament earnings to his name but has played alongside Hellmuth in yet-to-be-released episodes of PokerGO’s ‘Poker After Dark.’

The rules of the match will remain the same. The“High Stakes Duel” rules state that the Round 1 loser has the right to two rematches at double the stakes. Hellmuth swept three straight matches against Esfandiari and Negreanu, netting a profit of $350,000 each time ($50,000 for the first match, then $100,000, then $200,000). Let’s see if Hellmuth makes it 3-for-3!


High Stakes French Poker Player Arnaud Mimran Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison For Kidnapping

The French fraudster, socialite, and high-stakes poker player, Arnaud Mimran has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for masterminding the 2016 kidnap of a Swiss financier, Yomi Rodrig.

Arnaud Mimran
Arnaud Mimran


Prosecutors had sought a 16-year-sentence against the 49-year-old Mimran over the 2015 kidnapping. Rodrig testified that he was forced to buy several million euros worth of stock in an empty shell company controlled by Mimran during the six days he was held in captivity.

Rodrig was bundled into a car by a gang led by a man named Sabir “Titax” Titouh and forced to buy millions of shares in a shell company called Cassidy Ventures Inc, controlled by Mimran. When Goldman Sachs called Rodrig back to say they would not take the trade because it was “bizarre,” his kidnappers forced him to buy the shares through a smaller broker the following day. The day after that, Titouh was shot dead on his doorstep.

At the time of the kidnapping, French prosecutors said Mimram owed money to friends. Still, his bank accounts had been seized as part of a significant fraud scheme he was convicted for in 2016 and to cover debts worth €5 Million (~$5.9 Million) at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas.

The court sentenced three other defendants in the kidnapping to prison terms of four to eight years while acquitting two others. A seventh man, a British financier who fled to Dubai, was tried in absentia and sentenced to 1-year in prison.

Primarily a high-stakes cash game player, Arnaud Mimran’s best tournament score came from a 13th place finish at the EPT Monte Carlo in 2006.

Mimran is currently serving an 8-year prison term for his 2016 conviction for an elaborate carbon VAT fraud, a crime known as the “swindle of the century” in France. The French government has said it lost €1.6 Billion (~$1.9 Billion) because of the loophole. The total loss to all EU states is estimated to be €5 to €10 Billion (~$6 Billion to $12 Billion).

In April, he was indicted in two separate murder cases that could see him spending more time behind bars. At the time of his arrest, he had run up debts of $6 Million at the Wynn Las Vegas, according to court filings.

Prosecutors believe Mimran murdered his partner in crime in 2010, a French Israeli conman named Samy Souied. They also accuse him of the murder of his father-in-law, 76-year-old billionaire hotelier, and art dealer Claude Dray, who was shot dead at his home in 2011.

Mimran tried to kill himself after he returned to his cell following his sentencing on Friday. He was still hospitalized as of Sunday, his lawyer said.


Back-to-Back Losing Sessions Brings Landon Tice on the Backfoot

Things are not looking good for the 22-year-old poker pro-Landon Tice, who lost two back-to-back sessions in his heads-up match against hedge fund manager-cum-poker enthusiast Bill Perkins. A total of 4,907 has now been played between the duo.

Landon Tice
Landon Tice


Even though Tice is ahead for $63,720.4, it only accounts for a little more than 1.5 buy-ins. That comes out to a profit of just 3.25 big blinds per 100 hands for the young poker player, putting him far off the needed pace (Pekins enjoys a 9 BBs/100 hands handicap in the match).

Bill Perkins
Bill Perkins


Day 11 Recap

The 11th session took place on June 26, and 348 hands were played. Perkins booked $51,990.27 in profits, reducing Tice’s lead to $92,031.36.


Day 12 Recap

After four days, Tice and Perkins returned to play the 12th session. Perkins continued his winning streak, this time, taking away a $28,000 profit in the 337-hand session. Tice’s overall lead has slipped down to $63,720.40.


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