Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu are all set and ready to go for Round 2 of “High Stakes Duel,” which begins on May 5 at 8 pm PST. The heads-up poker battle is a rematch from Round 1, in which the “Poker Brat” made a miraculous comeback to win the $100,000 pot.
Hellmuth announced the date of the rematch on the recent episode of No Gamble, No Future, a PokerGO podcast hosted by Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks. He joined his heads-up opponent on the show to discuss the first match and to look forward to Round 2.
Both players were cordial on the podcast. Although they’re long-time friends, there’s been tension in recent months between the poker legends. Hellmuth fired the first shots by criticizing Negreanu’s play against Doug Polk, a 25,000-hand heads-up challenge he lost by $1.2 million. “Kid Poker” didn’t care for the critical comments so he called out Hellmuth and went so far as to question the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner’s greatness. Thus, we have a heads-up match between the two that could end up getting quite expensive.
The format for “High Stakes Duel” requires both players to pay $50,000 to enter the first round, creating a $100,000 prize pool. Neither player can cash out after that match unless the losing player decides to quit. Negreanu called for a rematch, so we move on to Round 2 where the prize pool is increased to $200,000, but only the Round 1 loser adds the $100,000 to the pot. The stakes are doubled each round, and could potentially get as high as $12.8 million if the match reaches Round 8.
Neither player can cash out until after Round 3, unless the previous round loser decides he doesn’t want a rematch.
What to look for in Round 2
With Round 1 out of the way, the focus is now on the rematch between two of poker’s most popular players. In the first match, Negreanu dominated for most of the session. At one point, he had 97,000 of the 100,000 chips in play. But Hellmuth caught a few breaks and then battled back to eventually win the six-hour marathon match.
In Round 2, viewers shouldn’t expect such a lengthy battle. Negreanu is likely to attack earlier and be more aggressive this time around. In the first match, he was passive at times, perhaps a bit more passive than most expected following his heads-up challenge against Polk. That strategy didn’t seem to work very well for him, especially during the final hour of play.
Negreanu has been one of the best poker players in the world for the past 20 years. He is often willing to adjust his game, so expect some changes. Hellmuth, on the other hand, refuses to adapt. He plays his own strategy, which he dubs “White Magic,” and believes he can always just show up unprepared and win because he’s just that good at exploitative play.
The “Poker Brat” will have an opportunity on May 5 to prove again that “White Magic” can’t be stopped. Negreanu, however, is hoping that his GTO principles will prove to be superior.
Featured image source: “High Stakes Duel II” show on PokerGO