Hellmuth vs. Esfandiari: Find Out Who Won $400K in Round 3 of High Stakes Duel

High-Stakes Duel

On Wednesday night, Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari each put up a $200,000 buy-in for Round 3 match in High Stakes Duel. Hellmuth was actually in for just $50,000 having won Round 1 for $100,000 and then using that to also win Round 2 for $200,000.


Playing at PokerGO Studio at ARIA, sans masks for the first time (except for the dealer), Hellmuth completed the hattrick by once again defeating Esfandiari. Prior to the match, Hellmuth did say that if he won, he would exercise his option to cash out (which a player can do after three wins). As such, the “Poker Brat” locked up a $400,000 payday and two new players will start the next duel at the $50,000 buy-in level. Who and when the new match will take place is to be determined.

PokerNews has compiled six of the biggest and most interesting hands from Round 3, which as you will see largely went Hellmuth’s way from the start.

First Blood to Hellmuth

In the first notable hand, the blinds were 200/400 when Esfandiari raised the button to 1,000 holding the {q-Hearts}{7-Hearts}. Hellmuth defended with the {k-Hearts}{j-Diamonds} and the flop came down {j-Spades}{10-Hearts}{8-Hearts}. Hellmuth check-called a bet of 400 and then checked again on the {a-Diamonds} turn.

Esfandiari, who had straight and flush draws, continued for 3,100 and Hellmuth called before checking in the dark. When the {3-Spades} completed the board on the river, Esfandiari bluffed by firing an overbet of 14,100. Hellmuth, who had the best hand with a pair of kings, called and took down the 37,200 pot to pull out to a 213K to 186K chip lead.

Phil Hellmuth
Phil Hellmuth

Full House for the Poker Brat

With 1,600 in the pot and a flop of {7-Diamonds}{k-Hearts}{q-Hearts}, Esfandiari checked with the {q-Spades}{9-Diamonds} and Hellmuth bet 800 holding the {7-Spades}{7-Hearts}. A call was made and the {3-Diamonds} appeared on the turn.

Esfandiari checked and called when Hellmuth bet 3,500. When the {3-Spades} paired the board on the river, Esfandiari checked for the third time and Hellmuth bet 12,000.

“You’re going to have to show me the king,” Esfandiari said before dropping in a call and seeing the 32,300 pot pushed to Hellmuth, who chipped up to 229K while Esfandiari dropped to 170K.

Hellmuth Takes Lead Back from Esfandiari

At the 500/1,000 level, Hellmuth limped the button with the {q-Diamonds}{9-Clubs} and then called when Esfandiari, who had pulled out to a very small chip lead, raised to 3,300 with the {j-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}. The {5-Diamonds}{q-Hearts}{10-Hearts} flop gave both players a pair but it went check-check nonetheless.

On the {q-Spades} turn, Esfandiari bet 2,700 and Hellmuth just called with trips to see the {8-Hearts} river. Esfandiari checked but wasted little time in calling a bet of 7,000 from Hellmuth, who took back the chip lead.

Flush-Over-Flush Cooler

At the 600/1,200 level, Hellmuth limped with the {j-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds} and Esfandiari checked his option with the {8-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds}. The {j-Clubs}{q-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds} flop gave both players a flush and Esfandiari checked. Hellmuth bet 1,300 and only to have Esfandiari check-raised to 4,300. Not to be outdone, Hellmuth three-bet to 10,000, and Esfandiari called.

The {a-Diamonds} turn gave both players a flush but of course Hellmuth’s was best. Esfandiari opted to lead out for 16,200 and Hellmuth just called to see the {10-Hearts} river. Esfandiari bet again, this time 33,800, and Hellmuth raised 40,000 more.

“That’s pretty special,” an exasperated Esfandiari exclaimed. He called nonetheless and dropped to 102K while Hellmuth chipped up to 297K.

Antonio Esfandiari
Antonio Esfandiari

Hellmuth Lays Down Straight Flush Draw

The duo jostled for a long time exchanging small-to-medium-sized pots, during which time Hellmuth shoved all in more than once over an Esfandiari open such as when the former jammed for 144K with the {a-Clubs}{q-Diamonds} after the latter had opened for 6,000 with the {5-Spades}{5-Hearts}.

Then, with the blinds at 1,500/3,000, Esfandiari raised to 6,000 holding the {9-Hearts}{9-Diamonds} and Hellmuth defended his big blind with the {7-Clubs}{4-Clubs} to see a {2-Spades}{5-Clubs}{3-Clubs} flop.

Hellmuth checked-called a bet of 6,500 with his straight and flush draws and then checked in the dark headed to the turn, which was the {5-Spades}. Esfandiari bet 15,500 and Hellmuth just folded.

“You call all-in on the flop?” Hellmuth asked. Esfandiari responded that he would have. “I don’t think anyone else folds my hand there.”

Both Nick Schulman and Ali Nejad agreed from the commentary booth.

Hellmuth Closes It Out

In what would be the final hand of the match, the blinds were 1,500/3,000 when Esfandiari limped holding the {a-Clubs}{3-Diamonds} and Hellmuth raised to 13,000 with the {a-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}. Esfandiari responded by jamming for 129K and Hellmuth snap-called.

“Nice hand, Phil,” said Esfandiari. The {9-Hearts}{a-Hearts}{k-Clubs} flop meant Hellmuth’s kicker played, but some a nine would chop it given the king on board. The {j-Spades} turn meant a jack would result in a chop as well, but the {8-Hearts} river was a brick.

With that, Hellmuth went 3-0 against Esfandiari to claim a $400,000 prize. Hellmuth had already stated that if he won, he wouldn’t continue, which means a new High Stakes Duel match will start with two new players at the $50,000 buy-in level.

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at High Stakes Duel Here

  • On Wednesday, @phil_hellmuth & @MagicAntonio squared off in Round 3 of their High Stakes Duel.

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Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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