Phil Hellmuth and Scott Seiver met on the felt last night to play for an $800,000 purse. Seiver is the fifth player to try and beat Hellmuth over the angular hour-glass table of the High Stakes Duel III set.
So far, none of those five players has given Hellmuth much Sturm or Drang on the show. Tom Dwan is the only person to beat him in a round. However, Dwan gave back what he’d won the round after that. Then he disappeared into the night.
In fact, Seiver was the last-minute replacement for Tom Dwan after a scheduling conflict took Dwan out of the action.
Since this match was the fourth round of HSD3, Hellmuth will be able to bank his win if he manages to win the next round.
If not, he’ll have to keep playing until he, or an opponent wins two games in a row. As a result, we are more or less guaranteed another round (probably against Seiver, if Seiver’s pre-game talk is to be believed).
The next round will see both players put $800,000 on the line for a $1.6 million purse.
To the victor, the spoiled
Phil Hellmuth managed to get a small lead early on. Seiver bluffed an ace-high hand into Hellmuth’s two-pair taking Phil from 400,000 in chips to a little over 450,000. The chip lead shifted back and forth for the first few blind levels with neither player making any big moves.
Seiver then made a beautiful call, picking off a bluff from Hellmuth with just ace-high. Unfortunately, a three on the river filled Hellmuth’s gutshot draw and things started looking dicey for Seiver.
Over the next few blind levels, Seiver managed to claw his way back into the lead. Then with stacks short and the stakes high, Hellmuth managed to push Siever off a rivered pair with nothing in his own hand.
“If he calls, I probably lose the match,” Hellmuth said of the risky play. “I’m probably down to 50,000 or 60,000 in chips. A lot of these matches that I’ve played, I have put it on the line with a bluff, a big bluff. A lot of the time, my opponent is super strong, and so far, they’ve made these folds. […] If he does call, he wins the match. Antonio [Esfandiari], if he calls, he wins the match. Daniel [Negreanu], if he calls once, he wins the match. So far, my timing has been exceptional with the bluffs, and they’ve folded some very strong hands.”
Seiver was unable to recover from the bluff. Seiver’s stack contained about a third of the chips in play and the blinds were going up again.
Eventually, the deck put Seiver out of his misery when a cooler gave him top-pair versus bottom-two. The chips went into the pot, then into Hellmuth’s stack.
Luck and circumstance
When asked whether luck played any part in Hellmuth’s 9-1 run on HSD, Hellmuth replied:
“If I think he’s weak, and I bluff and bluff and bluff and bluff, I’m picking up free chips. If I’m really strong and I trap him, I’m picking up a lot of chips.
“In my last match against [Tom] Dwan, I just had to say, ‘Alright, Phil, the sky is the limit. Every time you see weakness, you raise him, you raise him, you raise him.’ That’s the strategy and tactic I chose, and somehow that adds up well for me.
“I have a knack for heads-up no-limit holdem, and it’s come through. There have been times when I have been lucky in some of these matches, for sure, but I always seem to have the best hand in these massive pots. There is something I’m doing that they don’t understand and that I really don’t want to talk about.”
He’s certainly been playing some impressive poker over the course of these heads-up matches. It is going to be a thrill to see him play the next round, the biggest game HSD has managed to hit so far.
Featured image source: PokerGO