Last week, two titans of the poker world clashed. The first heads-up match between Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu on PokerGO was something of a treat for those poker fans who have been starved of big-name action and who have been waiting for some truly epic in-studio action in 2021.
Before the epic battle, we spoke to Hellmuth himself in a two-part interview exclusive, where we discussed the “delusional” Daniel Negreanu and the Poker Brat’s place in the pantheon of poker greats.
What did we learn from the first High Stakes Duel, worth $100,000 to the winner? Let’s take a look back featuring some exclusive clips courtesy of our friends at PokerGO.
Negreanu Can Make Some Heroic Folds
Daniel Negreanu did not make his way to becoming one of the top three tournament poker players of all-time without making some tricky folds, but last Wednesday, he really upped his game. Some of his folds were fantastic reads, others the epitome of reading a situation and understanding that money saved is money earned, especially heads-up.
While Hellmuth did nothing to give away his own reaction to these folds, the Poker Brat himself must have wondered what he had to do to get paid off when betting with the best hand at times.
Phil Hellmuth Eating is Box Office Gold
We called it before the action began, pitching to Hellmuth that instead of playing for money, there should be a battle for who has to eat the diet of the other man in Round 2. Clearly, if this were to happen, Daniel Negreanu’s stomach would not be able to cope.
The commentators on PokerGO joked that Hellmuth’s eating was similar to that of a large, powerful sea-bound predator. Like a man on a mission, Hellmuth destroyed a sub with such ferocity that TV producers keen to bring back Man vs. Food thought they might have found a new host. Annihilating a five-pound bag of Sour Patch sweets was child’s play for the Poker Brat and Kid Poker could only stop and stare as Hellmuth went deep… into another bag of food, bringing out chopstick-skewered grub with some flair.
Hellmuth is Still the Poker Brat
There can be no question that Phil Hellmuth has mellowed after the last few years. With 15 WSOP bracelets, the so-called ‘Poker Brat’ rarely surfaces these days. When he does, however, studio sets had better watch out!
When a couple of big hands went against him in the first High Stakes Duel match-up against Daniel Negreanu, Kid Poker offered his opponent a box of tissues in order to mop up any potential tears. Hellmuth accepted the tissues by picking them up and flicking them over his shoulder and out of the studio set.
Fancy hearing what the Brat then said when his pocket jacks went down to Negreanu’s king-nine? Of course you do… and we don’t blame you.
The Smack Talk Got Real
Before the match, Hellmuth had faced a bit of criticism from Negreanu that his pointed remarks about Kid Poker’s strategy while losing to Doug Polk were off-centre. Kid Poker didn’t take kindly to this and the challenge was set.
Hellmuth took the time to explain exactly what he meant by his comments when Nick Schulman asked him to clarify matters during the pre-match Weigh-In section of the bout.
Apex Predator vs. King Kong
If you haven’t already been using the phrase ‘To me, that’s apex predator shit, bro’ all week, then we’re sad for you. In fact, to us, that’s apex predator shit, bro. When pushed to pinpoint exactly what drove him to defeat Antonio Esfandiari in the first High Stakes Duel, Hellmuth didn’t merely elucidate on the reasons. He coined a catchphrase.
This is what it takes to be Phil Hellmuth. From ‘White Magic’ to his infamous comeback, ‘I can dodge bullets, baby’, Hellmuth is well known for christening headlines every time he opens his mouth. The sight of Hellmuth thumping his chest and calling his tactics ‘King Kong shit’? This is why we watch poker.
While Hellmuth admitted that his family thought his comments cringe-worthy when they watched them back the next day and Daniel Negreanu made a funny April Fools’ video about taking on The Predator in his next heads-up match, the term ‘apex predator’ does lend itself to the Poker Brat’s kaleidoscopic personality.
Broadly speaking, an apex or ‘alpha’ predator, is the animal at the top of a food chain, such as the killer whale in deep water or a crocodile in the shallow end. On land, you might think of a tiger or a lion, but conjure the image of Phil Hellmuth and you might also think of the much misunderstood honey badger.
The honey badger is so versatile that it can literally turn around within its own skin to bite its attacker (Negreanu). If that doesn’t remind you of a certain 15-time bracelet winner, then what about its immunity to several strains of venom (poisonous tweets) and ability to survive being bitten (by those pesky GTO kids), frequently eating scorpions and snakes when they attack them.
Have you ever seen Phil Hellmuth and a honey badger in the same room? The third fearsome beast to take on Hellmuth at the felt in High Stakes Duel on PokerGO after he’s taken care of Negreanu practically picks itself.
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PokerGO is the home of the Phil Hellmuth vs. Daniel Negreanu High Stakes Duel.