- »The Rematch is Set for High Stakes Duel II
The Rematch is Set for High Stakes Duel II
“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been doing this for years. Mama said knock you out.”
Make no mistake about it, Phil Hellmuth is a much better poker player than he is a rapper. Trying his best to impersonate LL Cool J, the World Series of Poker’s all-time bracelet leader (15) was making his point be known. Never count him out. He seemed positive, optimistic, and in a jovial mood as he guested alongside Daniel Negreanu on the No Gamble, No Future podcast Tuesday night, but he was also sending message to his Canadian rival, as out-of-tune as it may have been.
“Thank-you Phil Hellmuth for this gift you have shared with us,” tweeted @PokerNews, shortly after the episode aired, with an accompanying mock music video of the song Mama Said Knock You Out.
Thank you @phil_hellmuth. Thank you for this gift you have shared with us.
— PokerNews (@PokerNews) April 6, 2021
Are You Ready to Rumble?
Let’s just say, a music career is not in the cards for the world’s greatest tournament player. What is, though, is another encounter with his Canadian foe on PokerGo. High Stakes Duel II, round 2, has been announced for Wednesday, May 5th, at 8 p.m.
Negreanu has officially accepted the rematch, and will pony up the $100,000 to play. He is ready to even the score. It’s fantastic news for fans everywhere. Social media is still buzzing about Round 1, last week, when Hellmuth remarkably overcame a more than 19-to-1 chip deficit to win.
“When I look back, he really played great. It seemed like he was technically perfect, and it’s tough to play against that style. I’m not going to underestimate Daniel, he’s an amazing player who’s playing a great game. Hopefully, I can pull out some white magic on May 5th,” Phil said.
Apex Predator Shit
What exactly is white magic? It’s hard to say, but if it’s staying calm, cool and composed under pressure, and managing to claw your way back from a mere 3,000 chips, when your opponent has 97,000, then Phil’s got it. It’s his trademark. He’s also got a knack for one-liners and catch phrases. Sayings like, “I can dodge bullets, baby,” and “If luck weren’t involved, I’d win every one,” are now famous, and have become terrific marketing tools. The Hellmuth brand has skyrocketed into the stratosphere over the years. Now, you can add another quote to the list, and it’s already become an instant classic.
“That’s apex predator shit, bro,” he told commentator Nick Schulman during the pregame show before the first match. Hellmuth was referring to some strange, but correct plays he’s been able to make during these highly intense matches. He’s done it time and again, and feels it’s no fluke. “To me, it’s apex predator shit, it’s white magic, it’s King Kong shit,” he said, standing from his chair for effect. Schulman and Negreanu both chuckled dismissively, as if to say, “here he goes again.”
An entertainer, even in the heat of battle, Hellmuth managed to create another memorable moment, and the fans loved every minute of it. They ate it up. The ‘apex predator shit’ quote went viral, with memes, GIF’s and funny videos. By definition, an apex predator is a predator at the top of the food chain, and one without natural enemies. Great white sharks, killer whales, lions and tigers are all apex predators. Hellmuth groups himself in that category. He believes it, too, and perhaps that’s what sets him apart. His confidence.
“I’ve had so much practice playing a short stack, and waiting for good spots, that it allows me not to panic. Daniel put me in a bad spot, and I was fortunate to come away with the victory in the first match.”
Hellmuth, it should be noted, appeared more modest than usual during the podcast, and was quick to give credit to his Canadian rival on several occasions.
For Negreanu, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Not only was he taking it from Phil in the first showdown, he was giving it to him as well. Schtick. And, he was ruthless. At one point, he even pulled out a white towel, and began waving it to signal the end was near. “In case you need it, it’s for you,” he said, being cocky to the point of over confident. “Rocky didn’t throw in the towel and Apollo died. I don’t want Phil to die.” Much like Drago was punching Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, it seemed like Negreanu was playing with disdain for his counterpart, and wanted to embarrass him. Up big, and with chirping chips, Negreanu felt invincible. He wasn’t.
“I think karma, if that’s a real thing, bit me in the ass,” he admitted to hosts Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks Tuesday night. “I wave the towel, then I lose the match? What a donkey. I really went for the jugular there.”
Yes, he did, and it back fired. Much to his chagrin, Hellmuth mounted a comeback for the ages, and now ‘Kid Poker’ will have some time to think about it. He’ll need to regroup, refocus, and strategize for the next face-off.
“I was trying to exploit and take advantage of what I thought were good spots. My head was spinning because I had complete control of the match, it was almost over, and from there the river cards were not kind. In all the big pots we played the river card improved his hand. Other than that, I thought I navigated well. There were a lot of traps set that I didn’t fall into. I wanted to have the lead or have it done by the time the blinds got high because then it becomes a coin flip.”
Calling All Critics
At one point during Round 1, having flopped two-pair with a massive chip lead, Negreanu took some heat for just calling Hellmuth’s flop bet, instead of re-raising him all-in. Phil had an over pair to the board and was sure to call off for his remaining chips. It was the decisive hand, the turning point if you will, and the viewing public believed he made a huge mistake.
“They play arm chair quarterback and say, ‘look, if you did this it would have worked,’ but they’re all assuming they know Phil has pocket nines. Phil made a good check on the turn, the heart came, which hurts me (flush possibilities), and he’s a good enough player to fold with just two nines. If I had to do it all over again, I would do the exact same thing. I really would.”
Remember, people at home can see the hole cards. It’s much easier to play that way, isn’t it?
Round 2 of High Stakes Duel II is set for May 5th at 8 p.m. exclusively on PokerGo.