Phil Hellmuth meets his heads up match in Mr. Beast, of all people

Dave Consolazio Poker Writer Photo
Dave Consolazio
Posted on: August 21, 2021 06:58 PDT

Phil Hellmuth improved to 7-0 in his last seven PokerGo High Stakes Duel heads-up matchups with his win over Nick Wright on July 28. Hellmuth’s next High Stakes Duel matchup against Tom Dwan is scheduled for this Wednesday, August 25, and is one of the most highly-anticipated poker events of the year. Very few poker players have had success against Phil Hellmuth in the heads-up realm, but after a late-night clash at the Aria Resort & Casino on Friday night, a new name can be added to that list; Mr. Beast.

Yes, the Mr. Beast from YouTube. In one of the more interesting lineups that you will ever see assembled at a poker table, Phil Hellmuth tweeted out on Friday night that he had just finished filming a “Poker After Dark” session with Doyle Brunson, Texas senator Ted Cruz, and YouTube superstar Jimmy “Mr. Beast” Donaldson.

He also mentioned in another tweet that later in the evening, he would be playing a $10,000 heads-up matchup against Mr. Beast. Needless to say, Hellmuth likely thought he’d be making some easy money off of the poker amateur. But the heads-up match did not go according to plan. In Hellmuth’s first update, he reported that Mr. Beast had “just moved all in with 7-2!! And bluffed me out of my shoes!!”

Moments later, Hellmuth tweeted out that he would need a rebuy for another $10,000. Apparently Mr. Beast had called Hellmuth’s pre-flop raise to $1,400 with 10-9 and flopped a straight against Hellmuth’s 9-9 on an 8-7-6 flop. The next update didn’t go much better for Hellmuth as the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner recorded a video of his ace-king all-in against Mr. Beast’s 9-6 offsuit.

The flop came 9-6-4 to put Mr. Beast into the lead with two pair. A king on the turn gave Hellmuth some outs, but a 10 on the river sent the pot over to the 23-year-old.

The beauty of variance in poker

In addition to his recent High Stakes Duel sweeps against Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Negreanu, Hellmuth has had plenty of other excellent results in heads-up play. He finished runner-up in the $20,000 NBC Heads-Up Championship in 2013 and won the National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2005, to name a couple. Yet due to a bit of bad luck in the early hours on Saturday morning, he lost $40,000 to a poker amateur.

Compare this to Mr. Beast’s recent battle with chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. Mr. Beast, a chess beginner, played a series of games against Nakamura in late 2020 in which Nakamura started the game with a piece handicap. Even when Nakamura had four of his pawns, both of his bishops and both of his knights removed from the board before the game began, he still crushed Mr. Beast with ease.

In a game like chess, any amateur player will lose 100% of the time against a Grandmaster. The same holds true in most games and most sports; elite players will virtually always defeat weaker ones.

This isn’t the case in poker, however. Yes, in the long run, the superior players will always win as short-term luck can not overcome superior play and mathematics forever. But on any given day, a lucky amateur can reign supreme. And that experience will likely keep them coming back for more.

Featured Image Credit: Flickr - World Poker Tour