Daniel Negreanu a heavy favorite against Phil Hellmuth

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 03/02/2021

To the surprise of few, Daniel Negreanu is a reasonably large favorite against Phil Hellmuth in the upcoming heads-up poker match. The poker legends will battle it out on PokerGO’s “High Stakes Duel” later this month in what will be a highly publicized heads-up match.

PokerShares, a poker betting company owned by poker pro Mike McDonald, handicapped the upcoming match. Poker players around the world (you can’t bet on PokerShares in the U.S.) will get in on the action.

According to McDonald’s website, Negreanu is currently a -164 favorite, giving him approximately a 62 percent chance to win. Hellmuth, on the other hand, is a +145 underdog (42 percent odds of victory).

The heads-up battle is a result of a brief feud between the poker pros. Following Negreanu’s $1.2 million loss to Doug Polk in a 25,000-hand heads-up challenge, Hellmuth criticized “Kid Poker’s” play.

Not your typical heads-up poker challenge

Negreanu wasn’t about to sit back and take it, so he offered up a heads-up challenge. But this isn’t going to take place online like most heads-up battles. Instead, they’ll play it out at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas, and the match will be available to paid subscribers of the PokerGO app.

There are a couple other major differences between this heads-up challenge as compared to most others (Polk/Negreanu, Galfond Challenge, etc.). First off, there will only be a small amount of hands played, which makes variance a major contributing factor, perhaps even more so than skill.

How many hands will be dealt is unknown as the exact format for the match hasn’t yet been released. But given they’re playing a sit-n-go live format, which differs from the traditional cash game structure for most heads-up challenges, likely only a couple hundred hands per game.

The exact start date is also a bit in question. Mori Eskandani recently told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that gamblers shouldn’t wager “after March 14” on the match, but wouldn’t give an exact date for filming.

PokerGO will film the match and then release it to PokerGO subscribers a few days later. Both players are aware they shouldn’t spoil the outcome to anyone before it airs on PokerGO.

Hellmuth has already competed on “High Stakes Duel.” He defeated Antonio Esfandiari in three straight matches in 2020.

Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth are two of the most polarizing and popular poker players in history. They’re both Poker Hall of Fame members and have 21 WSOP bracelets and over $66 million in live tournament cashes combined.

Negreanu is favored in this match mostly because he just spent the past few months playing against one of the best heads-up players in the world (Doug Polk). Hellmuth, on the other hand, is far from a heads-up specialist, although he’s had great success in his career in these small sample size matches (won the 2005 NBC National Heads-Up Championship, beat Esfandiari three straight times last year, etc.).

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