Who is Nick Wright, Phil Hellmuth’s next heads-up opponent?

Jon Sofen
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Published: July 27, 2021 5:15 PM EDT

Phil Hellmuth’s upcoming opponent on High Stakes Duel, Nick Wright, may not be a familiar face to the poker community. But he certainly is to the sports world.

Wright is the co-host of First Things First, a sports talk show on FS1. He’s an avid poker player and a fan of the game, although he doesn’t have any meaningful poker accomplishments. Perhaps, he’ll notch his first big poker win Wednesday night on PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel show, which begins at 5 pm PST.

Details of the match

In Round 1, both players will pay $50,000 to enter. The losing player has the option to force a rematch, and then must pay another $100,000 to compete in Round 2. Hellmuth defeated Antonio Esfandiari in three straight matches in 2020, and then fared the same against Daniel Negreanu earlier this year. The “Poker Brat” will attempt to make it 9-0 on the show, assuming Wright is willing to play three matches, of course.

PokerShares, a poker betting platform, has offered wagers on past High Stakes Duel matches. This time around, they aren’t taking bets because few would put money down on Wright, an amateur, to beat the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner, especially given the fact that Hellmuth is 6-0 on High Stakes Duel already.

Sports media personality

Nick Wright is one of those media personalities you either love or hate, or love to hate. He’s never been one to shy away from making bold statements and predictions. The FS1 host is most famous for proclaiming LeBron James as the greatest basketball player of all-time, a hill he is willing to die on.

Wright, a Missouri native, got his start in the early 2000s in his hometown of Kansas City as the host of What’s Wright with Nick Wright, a sports radio talk show on 610 Sports. He became a popular sports media personality around town in his mid 20s, providing his takes on local teams, most notably the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs, two teams he grew up supporting.

Wright would later move on to 610 Sports in Houston to host a similar radio show before reaching the big-time in 2016 when Fox Sports hired him as a television studio contributor. The following year, he joined former NFL wide receive Cris Carter as co-hosts of the new FS1 TV show, First Things First. Wright and Carter were paid to debate hot button topics in the world of sports. Carter left the show in 2019 and has since been replaced by Fox Sports personality Kevin Wildes and former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall.

Hellmuth’s upcoming opponent doesn’t have any meaningful accomplishments as a poker player. But he has a strong social media presence with over 410,000 Twitter followers. Hence, why PokerGO chose the sports enthusiast over an accomplished poker pro such as Tom Dwan or Phil Ivey, two players waiting in the wings to compete on High Stakes Duel. They’ll eventually get their opportunity, but not quite yet.

Despite choosing a different career path than a poker pro, Wright isn’t a beginner poker player. He said on the PokerGO podcast, No Gamble No Future, that he’s a competent cash game player and admits he should be considered the underdog against the “Poker Brat.” But he also says he isn’t playing just to dump $50,000 to Hellmuth, and expects to pull off an upset.

The match begins on the PokerGO app at 5 pm Wednesday and will conclude when one player has all the chips. Viewers can watch every hand on tape delay. PokerGO is a subscription-based app costing $15 per month or $99 annually.

Featured image source: PokerGO app