Despite facing what many would consider an insurmountable chip lead early on in the heads-up match, Phil Hellmuth completed an epic comeback to win his first high-stakes heads-up match against Daniel Negreanu Wednesday evening in Las Vegas.
The 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner won $100,000 after staring at a more than 9:1 chip deficit halfway through the match, which was aired as part of the High Stakes Duel series on PokerGO.
At the end of the six-hour match, when Hellmuth’s 9-9 faded Negreanu’s open-ended straight flush draw, Negreanu said that he would take the option to play Hellmuth again. Per the rules of series, the losing player has the option to challenge the winner for double the stakes. The winner can’t decline a rematch until he has won three straight matches prior to round 6 or two consecutive matches after round 5.
“Good match, buddy,” Negreanu said to Hellmuth after the final card was dealt. “There will be a rematch. You can guarantee that.”
The second match will have a $100,000 buy-in, in contrast to Wednesday’s $50,000 entry fee. During Hellmuth’s first go-around on the series against Antonio Esfandiari, he won the first three matches and profited $350,000.
Negreanu dominated the early portion of the match. Without any hands of significance going to showdown, he opened up a 2:1 lead in the blink of an eye. The GGPoker Ambassador and six-time WSOP bracelet winner extended it to 3:1 about an hour into the match.
Hellmuth was down to just 7,000 of the 100,000 in play and bled off another few thousand chips, leaving himself with just 5% of the chips in play, while Negreanu held the other 95%. But instead of opting to go for it all with trips, Negreanu gave Hellmuth the opportunity to mount a comeback.