Jason Koon Replaces Scott Seiver in ‘High Stakes Duel III,’ Will Face Phil Hellmuth for $1.6m Prize Pool

  • Scott Seiver was Hellmuth’s original Round 5 opponent, but withdrew in August
  • The $800,000 buy-in for each player is the highest in the show’s history
  • Stakes start at $50,000 a piece and double each round
  • Phil Hellmuth has won nine out of ten matches on the show
Closeup of the High Stakes Duel belt
Jason Koon has replaced Scott Seiver for Round 5 of “High Stakes Duel III” and will square off against Phil Hellmuth for a $1.6m prize pool. [Image: PokerGO.com]

Each player risking $800,000

When Scott Seiver withdrew from his scheduled Round 5 match against Phil Hellmuth in “High Stakes Duel III,” it seemed like that it was it for that series, that we would have to wait for PokerGO to organize an eventual “High Stakes Duel IV.” On Tuesday, though, PokerGO announced that Jason Koon has replaced Seiver as Hellmuth’s latest challenger, ensuring we will see the largest prize pool in the show’s short history: $1.6m.

Seiver was previously set to square off against Hellmuth for the second time on August 22, but just a couple weeks before the contest, he pulled out for undisclosed “personal reasons.” As each competitor had to put up $800,000 for this round, it was a big question if anybody else would want to step up to the plate; the ensuing radio silence made it seem like nobody did.

Koon and Hellmuth will battle it out at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas at 8pm ET on Wednesday, December 7. PokerGO, naturally, will stream the proceedings.

Stakes get mind boggling quickly

With different numbered editions of “High Stakes Duel” along with multiple rounds, things can get a little confusing, so let’s go over how the show works. A “High Stakes Duel” series or season or edition or whatever you would like to call it starts with stakes of $50,000 for each player in Round 1. The matches are best-of-three, heads-up sit-and-go format.

Stakes double each successive round, which is why the current stakes are sky high.

The loser of the round has the option for a rematch, which the winner is obligated to accept after Round 1. Stakes double each successive round, which is why the current stakes are sky high. If the loser does not want to continue, a 30-day period begins during which another challenge can take their place and continue the series.

Back to the winner’s obligation, if the victor begins a winning streak during Rounds 1-3, they must win three matches in row before being allowed to quit. If they begin a winning streak in Round 4 or later, they only need to win two consecutive matches to walk away. If the loser decides against a rematch and no replacement steps in, that “High Stakes Duel” series ends.

Hellmuth has been almost unstoppable

Phil Hellmuth has dominated “High Stakes Duel” so thoroughly so far that it might as well be called “Phil Hellmuth’s High Stakes Duel.” He started by beating Antonio Esfandiari three times in “High Stakes Duel I,” then did the same thing against Daniel Negreanu in “High Stakes Duel II.”

It has gotten much more interesting in “High Stakes Duel III.” Sports pundit Nick Wright was Hellmuth’s first challenger and the first non-poker pro to participate in the competition. As expected, Hellmuth dispatched him fairly easily. Wright bowed out after just one round and Tom Dwan took his place.

Round 2 went to Dwan, the first loss for Hellmuth. Hellmuth opted for a rematch and got his revenge in Round 3. That was it for Dwan, but Scott Seiver replaced him, with stakes now up to $400,000 for each player. Hellmuth won Round 4 and Scott Seiver chose a rematch, but as mentioned, he withdrew in early August.

a Round 5 win would give him three in a row, so he would be able to walk away

Because Phil Hellmuth’s current winning streak began in Round 3, he was required to accept the latest rematch, but a Round 5 win would give him three in a row, so he would be able to walk away, even if Jason Koon wants to rack them up again for a $1.6m buy-in.