With March Madness in full swing, it's easy to overlook that one of the great battles of the 21st Century will go down live at PokerGO's studios at the Aria when Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth step on stage for a heavyweight battle in the second installment of Poker Central's High Stakes Duel series. Yes, get ready for High Stakes Duel II or the Rumble on the Strip.
Last year, Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari slugged it out in the inaugural High Stakes Duel on PokerGO with Hellmuth coming out as the winner. Even though Hellmuth has experience in this venue and format, Negreanu has the big edge in High Stakes Duel II because he's fresh off a massive heads-up feud against Doug Polk.
In case you just woke up from a coma, Negreanu lost $1.2 million against Polk during a high-stakes feud that played out primarily on WSOP.com because the two needed to settle their live/online/social media beef that escalated a little too far. In the olden days of yore, two gentlemen would have a legit duel to the death (e.g. Hamilton). Only a few decades ago, when two players had a beef, they stepped outside to the parking lot to settle their score. Even a young Hellmuth had to step outside at least once in his career when he and the legendary Sam Grizzle decided to duke it out after a spat at the table inside Binion's Horseshoe got out of hand. And yes, Hellmuth lost that fight against Grizzle.
I'd love to see Helmuth and Negreanu have a real fight instead of playing live poker. Negreanu is a scrappy Canadian, but Hellmuth has the height/weight and size advantage. Alas, there will be no Medieval bloodspot to settle this High Stakes Duel. Instead, it's time to get ready to step underneath the bright lights of the PokerGO studio inside the Aria Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Negreanu more than held his own in the second half of the match and even impress Polk with his evolving heads-up skills. Sure, Kid Poker lost $1.2 million and as many people joked on social media that Negreanu paid Polk $1.2 million to stop trolling him and his wife, but Negreanu earned a lot of respect from haters for having the balls to back up his smack talking.
But with High Stakes Duel, this is a made-for-TV event with two of the biggest and most-recognizable names in poker.
Of course, with Hellmuth and Negreanu, there's no shortage of haters for either side of this drama that will unfold starting March 31 and running through the rest of this Spring. Get ready for the Poker Brat vs Kid Poker.
Polk said his money is on Negreanu. Their epic 25,000-hand battle more than prepared Negreanu for this upcoming match against Hellmuth.
"I definitely feel I am a favorite in this match," said Negreanu on the match preview video released by PokerGo to promote High Stakes Duel II. "I got a good feel for it."
Hellmuth is apparently a better heads-up player than we think, at least that's Phil Galfond's assessment that nearly broke poker Twitter. Yeah, even those most staunch Hellmuth haters though Galfond's account got hacked or he lost his mind stating that Hellmuth actually played well in the first installment of High Stakes Duel against Antonio Esfandiari.
Hellmuth stated he had more resect for the younger generation of players -- the millennials and Gen Z cardslingers out there -- where as the youngest generation of players thing the old guard is exactly that -- old.
"For the small one percent that doesn't respect the player that I am, just remember: all I do is win, win no matter what," said Hellmuth in all earnest. "And you know, that is my life."
Life is winning. Winning is life. Yup, the Tao of Hellmuth is more than a strategy, it's a lifestyle.
Get ready for the epic action between Kid Poker and the Poker Brat starting March 31 on PokerGo with hosts Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman. The first session will be streamed for free for everyone and then you'll have to sign up for PokerGO if you want to catch the action.