Things are escalating quickly between long-time frenemies Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth.
Their upcoming episodes of High Stakes Duel seem likely to be unsatisfying. But the smack-talking war that resulted is plenty entertaining. While the exchanges are hardly Frazier-Ali, they are enough to keep the hype-train running for PokerGO.
Now their rivalry is tipping over into side bets too. Negreanu has forced Hellmuth to put his money where his enormous mouth is. The pair have bet on whether or not Phil can turn a profit playing 50 of the Aria’s $25,000 buy-in high-roller events. Negreanu’s laying $400,000 of his money against $200,000 of Hellmuth’s on the proposition.
The Aria $25k high-rollers are small field tourneys. The sample size is small enough to make variance a major factor in whether Phil can pull it off. But unlike large tournaments, Phil can’t just bank on binking one event. It’s going to take consistency as well as luck to earn $1,250,001 in a series with first-place prizes in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Negreanu tweeted about the bet saying: “Bet offered and accepted: I’m laying $400k to [Phil’s] $200k that over 50 $25k buy-in @AriaLV tournaments that Hellmuth will end up in the red. If he shows a $1 profit he wins the bet.”
Phil me in
The bet has resulted in a fair bit of speculation.
The first question many people had was how long such a challenge is likely to take. With Vegas casinos running at quarter capacity (though with improvements on the way) the Aria’s tournament schedule is a variable beast.
When someone asked how many $25,000 buy-in events the one venue can run, Sean McCormack of the Aria’s poker room tweeted back that they “have a few a month on average. Summer months and busier times can yield more.”
At that rate, a 2021 finish is unlikely. Even if Hellmuth follows through and doesn’t miss too many events, it will still probably be somewhere between one year and two years before we get the results. When you factor in that Hellmuth isn’t even a Vegas resident, and so will have to travel to get to the Aria, one begins to see the timescale telescoping uncontrollably.
Anyone who remembers the name “Jungleman” knows how easily this sort of bet turns into a never-ending “to be continued…”
At least one person wanted action on the bet going unfinished. Joseph Cada tweeted, “Can I bet this challenge doesn’t get completed? Has Phil even played over 50 25k’s in his lifetime?”
Other people were just happy to see the Poker Brat put in his place. “Anything that’s dogging on Phil is good with me,” said one commenter.
Meanwhile, Alex Huang noted that the high-stakes sharks might be pretty pleased to see Hellmuth jumping into their regular player pool.
“Germans right now,” Huang tweeted, followed by a GIF of Mickey Mouse packing as fast as murine-ly possible.
High-rollers for rolls
Hellmuth might not have a prayer in a serious heads-up challenge like Negreanu-Polk. Nor has he ever been able to compete at the highest levels in the cash games in Bobby’s Room and at the Aria.
But Phil Hellmuth always falls back on his tournament chops: more WSOP bracelets than anyone else.
Even here, his specialism will hurt him though. People know Hellmuth as a sharp big field tournament player. His talent is for exploiting bad players. But there are not many bad players who are willing to put up $25,000 on the regs.
And we can only assume that Negreanu is going to be entering every one of these $25k events looking to felt ol’ Phil before he can cash.
Then again, the odds are high that the whole thing is just for show.
It probably isn’t coincidental that the venue happens to sponsor Phil Hellmuth. It’s great publicity for the Aria. By taking the bet, Phil is publicizing both the High-Roller events and the Aria’s poker room in general. Not only does Hellmuth always draw media attention, but anyone with a cursory interest in the bet will now be tracking the Aria’s tournament results for the next few years.
No advertising is free. Win or lose the bet, it seems likely that Phil is making bank either way.
Featured image source: Flickr