Bill Perkins challenges Esfandiari and Hellmuth to an intriguing team match

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: September 29, 2020 11:01 am EDT

Bill Perkins has proposed what could be one of the most epic challenges in poker history. The multi-millionaire hedge fund manager wants to face both Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Hellmuth in a unique team poker match.

Esfandiari and Hellmuth recently battled twice in a high-stakes heads-up match on PokerGO. Hellmuth, the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner, took down both matches, good for a $100,000 profit (each player bought in for $50,000 twice). Soon, he might team up with the man who took his money.

Perkins, a proud University of Iowa graduate, is a poker enthusiast, although he is only considered an amateur or recreational player. Despite his status as a non-pro, he’s never feared challenging the best. The Houston native will eventually face the great Phil Galfond in a future Galfond Challenge.

For now he’s focused on pitting his skills against two poker legends. Perkins offered up a challenge on Twitter for Hellmuth and Esfandiari.

Should the match take place, Perkins will partner with poker pro and fellow Los Angeles resident M.J. Gonzalez. They’ll each face the “Poker Brat” and the “Magician.” And Perkins is so confident in his team’s ability to win, he’s offering up 2-1 odds. A suggested buy-in hasn’t yet been announced. But you can safely assume, given Perkins’ penchant for placing high-stakes wagers, the contenders won’t be playing for pennies.

Team poker format

Esfandiari has already accepted the challenge. It’s now up to Hellmuth to decide if he is down to gamble. Perkins shared brief details of the game format on Twitter, and it’s similar to the 2010 televised poker show Doubles Poker Championship.

In that show, each team had two players, and every player in the game played in every hand. That differs from some tag team events, including the WSOP’s annual events, where only one player on the team plays at a time. How it works is the players rotate action street to street. So, say Perkins begins the hand pre-flop. In that case, he’ll pass his cards to Gonzalez on the flop, and then Gonzalez will pass them back on the turn.

Esfandiari is down to team up with his friendly rival, Hellmuth, to take on a recreational player. He accepted the challenge and talked some smack in the process.

“Sometimes in life, you find yourself on the receiving side of extreme generosity. Looks like you really want to Die With Zero my dear Perk!! Your wish is my command. YumYumSki. SO IN,” Esfandiari wrote on Twitter.

The confident Perkins fired back with a bit of trash talk of his own. “Exposing pro fishes since 2012,” he responded. Some poker fans questioned Perkins’ partner choice. Gonzalez isn’t a name pro, and many wonder why he doesn’t select a bigger name player with star power, such as Perkins’ friend, social media playboy Dan Bilzerian, who claims to have won over $50 million playing poker in Hollywood high stakes games. That claim, however, has never been substantiated.

Team poker in the format Perkins proposes adds a new element to the game. To win, both players have to be in sync throughout each hand. We’ll see if Hellmuth, who hasn’t responded to the tweet, is up for the gamble.

Featured image source: Flickr