One of the most impressive streaks in recent poker history came to an end at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas Wednesday evening. Phil Hellmuth, after seven straight wins on “High Stakes Duel,” finally suffered a defeat as Tom Dwan busted the “Poker Brat” just like he did at the 2008 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship — cracking pocket aces.
The 1989 WSOP Main Event winner quickly burst out to a sizable lead over Dwan, a stark contrast to most of his previous matches, in which he played from behind. Both players started with 100,000 chips, and Hellmuth seized early control, scooping a slew of small pots, one after the other, which helped him run his stack up to around 125,000.
But there was one major aspect of this match that was similar to the past seven “High Stakes Duel” episodes — the game was of the marathon variety. Hellmuth won some early battles, but he was unable to win the war this time around. He did, however, grind for six hours, refusing to give in and surrender his stack, as did his opponent.
One of Hellmuth’s greatest strengths is that he is so difficult to bust, and rarely loses a huge pot at showdown unless he takes a bad beat. He incorporated the same strategy on Wednesday, which made it tough for Dwan to maximize value out of his big hands.
In final hand Hellmuth decided to slowplay with 20,000 left (blinds at 2,000/4,000), and Dwan checked his in the big blind. The flop came out . and the chip leader fired out 5,000 with middle pair and heard an “all in” call. He couldn’t fold given his opponent’s small stack. And, from “durrrr’s” perspective, it turned out to be a good decision as the turn came out a , giving Dwan two pair, and then an insignificant .
The streak is finally over, and for the first time Phil Hellmuth is the one who has the option to challenge the winner to a rematch. Should he exercise that option, he’ll be required to pay $200,000 to enter Round 3. As he exited the PokerGO Studio, a dejected Hellmuth said, “I don’t know if I’m going to rematch now.” But that comment came just moments following a difficult, frustrating game.