High-Stakes Poker Pros Line Up To Play Phil Hellmuth For $1.6 Million

By all accounts, Phil Hellmuth has been almost unbeatable during his time on PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel. Despite the volatility of heads-up poker, the 16-time bracelet winner has been nearly perfect on the show, sporting a 9-1 record against some of the best players in the game.

But even though the Poker Hall of Famer has proven to be a tough out, and the contest requires a massive $800,000 buy-in, that didn’t stop a number of pros from volunteering to face him in the next round.

Hellmuth was originally scheduled to play a rematch with Scott Seiver, with the two set for a winner-take-all showdown worth $1.6 million. Seiver backed out due to personal reasons, however, and the spot opened up to a new challenger to be chosen by PokerGO.

Once the announcement was made, several high-stakes players immediately stepped up to the plate, including Dan Smith, Chris Brewer, Wiktor ‘Limitless’ Malinowski, Ben Lamb, and Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates. This summer’s WSOP Player of the Year Dan Zack also said he wanted to play, as did the main event champ, Norway’s Espen Jorstad.

The embattled Bryn Kenney also accepted the challenge, although social media reactions were split on whether fans would want to see the accused online poker cheater on the show. Another player that came up as a possibility was casino owner Eric Persson, who got into a contentious battle with Hellmuth back in April during the PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown.

In the end, PokerGO went with Jason Koon. The highly-respected poker pro was named to the Poker Integrity Council this summer, and has $39.4 million in career tournament earnings, which is good for eighth place on the all-time money list.

The legend @phil_hellmuth and I will be playing each other in a $800,000 buy-in heads up match! https://t.co/vyLP5cdHtW

— Jason Koon (@JasonKoon) August 15, 2022

Although Koon was ready to step in for Seiver’s original date, Hellmuth has since had a scheduling issue of his own, and the match has been postponed. PokerGO will announce the new date in the near future.

In the show’s format, two players square off for an original buy-in of $50,000. The loser can then challenge the winner in a double-or-nothing match for $100,000, and then $200,000. After three wins, a player can cash out and refuse the rematch and start the entire process again.

Hellmuth opened the show with three straight wins over Antonio Esfandiari, profiting $350,000. He then did the same to Daniel Negreanu, sweeping him for another $350,000.

He started the current series with a win over sports commentator Nick Wright, who declined a rematch. Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan then took his place, handing Hellmuth his first and only loss in the series. Hellmuth then challenged Dwan again, winning the rematch.

Dwan was going to play Hellmuth again, but dropped out due to scheduling concerns. Seiver took over, and lost the match to give Hellmuth $550,000 in profit so far this series, with another $800,000 up for grabs against Koon.

Following a potential 10th win in High Stakes Duel, Hellmuth has the option to cash out and claim his third consecutive title. However, should he lose in his next match, a historic round 6 will be scheduled for a whopping $3.2 million.

Pick me coach

— Bryn Kenney (@BrynKenney) August 12, 2022

Lmk if you need me to rebook my flight back to Europe!

— Espen Uhlen Jørstad (@UhlenPoker) August 12, 2022


I’d love to play but that day doesn’t work for me. If y’all are flexible about the scheduling I’d work out a nice charity component

Also I’ll wear my cowboy hat

— Dan Smith (@DanSmithHolla) August 12, 2022

I’d play!

— Chris Brewer (@Chris_D_Brewer) August 12, 2022

Sign me up

— Daniel Zack (@Dan__Zack) August 12, 2022

Would love to take on the 9-1 . Can play 18 in the morning and a bit of poker in the afternoon @phil_hellmuth

— Ben Lamb (@BenbaLamb) August 12, 2022

The year is 2022 and Hellmuth has now forced Negreanu, Dwan, and Seiver to bend the knee at high stakes heads up. Nothing anywhere makes any sense anymore.

— Paul Smith (@pauls551) August 12, 2022