With Negreanu/Hellmuth match on, will anyone care about Tice vs. Perkins?

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 02/18/2021

Landon Tice and Bill Perkins are set to play some high-stakes heads-up poker, but will the poker community even watch it? The short answer is likely no, and that is because of the upcoming Daniel Negreanu vs. Phil Hellmuth match that will steal away the limelight.

The longer answer begins with the two players in question — Perkins and Tice — and their lack of appeal to the casual poker audience. Compare that to Negreanu and Hellmuth, two of the most popular players ever, and it’s not difficult to guess which match will generate more attention.

But here’s the thing, even if “Kid Poker” and the “Poker Brat” hadn’t agreed to play on High Stakes Feud on PokerGO, the Perkins vs. Tice match wasn’t exactly going to set any live-stream ratings records.

That isn’t a knock on either player. Landon Tice is an up-and-coming player, but at age 21 without any major accomplishments to his name yet, most casual poker fans don’t even know who he is.

Perkins, on the other hand, is a fairly big name within the poker community even though he’s mostly just an amateur player. He’s a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager who has appeared multiple times on some of the popular televised poker shows. And he occasionally pops up at the high roller tournaments.

So, it’s not like Perkins is some completely unknown player. But he doesn’t have the broad appeal of Negreanu or Hellmuth, and Tice’s following is even smaller.

One at a time, please

We’ve already seen what happens when two heads-up challenges take place at the same time — the match with the more popular and polarizing players takes almost all of the viewers away from the other match.

Phil Galfond and Chance Kornuth recently completed a lengthy Galfond Challenge with potentially millions of dollars at stake. Galfond ended up winning by over $700,000 plus a $250,000 side bet after Kornuth conceded with less than 9,000 hands remaining.

You probably didn’t even know that match took place unless you followed our recaps here at Poker.org, or if you follow the two competitors on social media. Instead, your attention was likely more on Doug Polk vs. Daniel Negreanu, which drew in more than 10,000 viewers every day for months. Compare that to the third Galfond Challenge, which ran at the same time and had only a couple hundreds viewers per session, if that.

The reason the Polk/Negreanu match was more intriguing to the poker community is because those are two of the most popular players in the game. On top of that, there was some drama leading up to it with the players having a longstanding feud.

In the Galfond Challenge, Galfond is one of the most respected players in the game, but there wasn’t any drama attached to this one and Kornuth isn’t exactly a household name among casual poker fans.

What we’re likely to see with the Tice vs. Perkins match is similar to the issues the Galfond Challenge had in drawing in viewers. The poker community will almost certainly pay more attention to Negreanu vs. Hellmuth, both casual fans and hardcore pros.

More reasons you probably won’t watch

Landon Tice doesn’t have the bankroll to play $200/$400 heads-up no-limit hold’em. He’s only 21 years old, and few at that age could ever pony up the cash to play a 20,000-hand challenge at those massive stakes.

So, how is he able to take on this challenge without the bankroll? He’s backed, and admitted as much in a recent Twitter post. Tice said he’s investing a large chunk of his net worth to face Perkins, but most of the money that will be in play will come from his backers.

That makes the match even less intriguing. Part of what makes poker on TV or live-stream so entertaining is watching players take big risks to win or lose large sums of money. With Tice playing mostly on someone else’s dime, likely a wealthy backer, that takes away from the excitement, from a viewer’s standpoint.

And then you have Perkins, his opponent, who isn’t taking any risk because he’s so wealthy that even if he lost $1 million, it wouldn’t hurt him one bit.

With that said, Hellmuth and Negreanu are also both filthy rich and neither will suffer financially from a loss. But there are other reasons that match will bring in the viewers, most notably the fact that they are two of the greatest and most popular poker players of all-time. Tice and Perkins are just poker players.

Featured image source: Twitter