Hellmuth downs Esfandiari in High Stakes Duel rematch

Poker writer Geoff Fisk profile photo
Geoff Fisk
Posted on: September 26, 2020 04:00 PDT

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.

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