The poker pro cashes out
“Where’s the window, baby?” said an almost giggly Phil Hellmuth, on a high from his third consecutive victory over Daniel Negreanu.
the spoils of a memorable hat-trick
The High Stakes Duel II is in the books, and it ended exactly how the first edition ended: with a buoyant but also relieved Hellmuth looking to cash out $400,000, the spoils of a memorable hat-trick.
Last night, Hellmuth did what Hellmuth always seems to do. He won a heads-up match in which he was considered the underdog, proving his doubters wrong for the umpteenth time, and adding in some small way to his already impressive legacy.
A tale of two streaks
For several months, Negreanu has antagonized Hellmuth, criticizing his poker abilities, undermining his credibility, and even calling out his record versus elite players. “On the major league high-roller circuit, he cannot win,” Negreanu said, adding:
He may have been a GOAT of his era, but that era is long gone.”
Well, with this victory, Hellmuth’s extraordinary televised heads-up record now stands at 29 wins from his last 30 matches – a statistical outlier matched only perhaps by his beleaguered opponent’s heads-up losing record.
After being thoroughly whitewashed, Negreanu’s streak of heads-up losses is now 14 in a row, dating all the way back to October 2013. Crazier still is his failure to notch up a single poker victory in the US since his WSOP bracelet win in 2008.
Of course, poker is not about winning tournaments. It’s about winning money, and in tournaments, that means cashing, going deep, making final tables, and ultimately having a positive ROI. This very point was emphasized on the latest episode of The Lock-In with guest Parker Talbot:
Nonetheless, it was ironic to hear Negreanu time and time again say that it is Hellmuth who cannot win.
Old-school leveling war of attrition
Round 3 was another engrossing encounter, with both players taking plenty of unorthodox lines. For all the talk about range construction and optimal frequencies before the match, it was clear that Negreanu was willing to climb out of the game tree in an effort to exploit perceived chinks in Hellmuth’s armor.
For his part, Hellmuth, the self-styled counter-puncher, ducked and weaved but also landed some haymakers. One particular hand caught the eye as he 5-bet 8♣️3♣️ and was called by Negreanu’s 2♦️2♣️. The Poker Brat check-called a 30% bet on J♣️T♦️6♠️ and then led for 40% on 6♣️, eliciting a tank-fold from the deeply suspicious Kid Poker:
For almost six hours, the audience was treated to what could be best described as an old-school leveling war of attrition. It was a ‘take it to the streets’ fight between two old foes whose lines ran the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Poker is Hellmuth’s muse
Poker is Hellmuth’s muse, and the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner has a passion for the game which both nourishes and fuels him.
In the final hand, both players turned a gutshot straight but Hellmuth’s was better, and that was all she wrote for Negreanu. The threepeat repeat was complete, and a jubilant Hellmuth said he would be heading straight to the cage to bank his $350,000 profit. “I know Mori [Eskandani] is not happy,” he said, adding: “but I would like to go to the cashout window.”
As the reigning champion, Hellmuth will be looking to extend his extraordinary winning streak in the PokerGO Studio. His next opponent will be chosen in the coming days, and you can tell that he is keen to start a fresh challenge.