Poker legends square off in rematch on PokerGO High Stakes Duel series
Just about nothing went right for Antonio Esfandiari in the final half-hour of High Stakes Duel Round 2.
“The Magician” saw a three-to-one chip lead vanish in the final stretch of a heads-up match against Phil Hellmuth, and lost his second straight High Stakes Duel match to the “Poker Brat”.
The rematch between two of poker’s all-time biggest personalities aired Wednesday on PokerGO and featured a dominating run at the end of the match by Hellmuth. Hellmuth has now won a pair of heads-up battles against Esfandiari on High Stakes Duel, with the first round airing on the debut episode of the show in August.
Hellmuth downed Esfandiari in a contest featuring a heads-up sit & go format, finishing off the battle in just under three-and-a-half hours. Both players put up $100,000 in the rematch, with the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner Hellmuth taking home $200,000 in the winner-take-all format.
Hellmuth up 2-0 on Esfandiari after comeback victory
The match began to turn in a hand that started with Hellmuth limping with J♠8♠, and the blinds at 800/1600. Esfandiari, with nearly triple Hellmuth’s chip stack, raised to 6,700 with 9♦9♣.
Hellmuth made the call, leaving himself 30 big blinds behind. The flop came 3♠5♣J♦, bringing in top pair for Hellmuth. Esfandiari bet 8,300, and Hellmuth shoved over the top for his last 48,200.
“I knew you hit a jack,” said an exasperated Esfandiari. “You’re so lucky. You really are exceptionally lucky Phil.”
Esfandiari talked himself into calling, but Hellmuth’s pair of jacks stayed ahead through the 7♥ turn and T♠ river. That hand gave Hellmuth a narrow lead, spinning Esfandiari into clear frustration.
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The match only lasted 20 more minutes after that, as the wheels fell off for Esfandiari. Another big pot went Hellmuth’s way in the final stretch, in a hand that started with Esfandiari holding a small chip advantage.
All of the chips went in on both sides on the turn of a 8♥7♦K♦2♠ board, but Hellmuth’s 8♥7♦ had the best of a battle of two pair against Esfandiari’s 7♣2♥. The river 9♣ sealed the hand for Hellmuth.
Esfandiari, suddenly at nearly a six-to-one chip disadvantage, couldn’t muster a comeback after that. With the win, Hellmuth bagged $200,000 and moved on the Round 3 of High Stakes Duel.
The third part of a Hellmuth vs Esfandiari trilogy on its way
High Stakes Duel features heads-up matches with escalating stakes as each round progresses. The debut episode featured Hellmuth and Esfandiari playing for $100,000, with that round going to Hellmuth.
The rules of the show offer the losing player of each heads-up match the opportunity to ask for a double-or-nothing rematch or surrender the challenger’s seat to a new player. Each round of High Stakes Duel doubles the stakes, and the next episode of the series will present a $400,000 heads-up match.
Round 3 of High Stakes Duel will again feature Hellmuth vs Esfandiari, as Esfandiari already asked for a rematch before Round 2 even started. Esfandiari is down $150,000 to Hellmuth after the first two rounds but will get the chance to recoup that in the next $400,000 match.
“It feels great,” said Hellmuth on the PokerGO Twitter feed. “I don’t think I bluffed as often this time. We had some great hands that everyone is going to love.”
Featured image source: Twitter