Weekly Poker Update: August 9, 2021

Weekly Poker Update August 9, 2021

Over the past few months in this column, we’ve been tracking the exploits of Phil Hellmuth and his recent string of success that has put him right back on top of the poker world.

Hellmuth made a name for himself originally as one of the best tournament players of his time, especially when it came to the World Series of Poker. But lately, it has been his play in head-to-head action that has raised his profile once again.

Hellmuth has proven to be dominant in the High Stakes Duel format used by PokerGo for major showdowns between two top players.

Next Up for Phil

High Stakes Duel is characterized by a series of sit-and-go matches between real money poker combatants, with the loser of individual matches getting to call for a rematch at double the stakes the next time out.

If the loser begs out, then another player can step in at the level where the winner left off.

Last year, Hellmuth swept Antonio Esfandiari in three straight matches to pocket $350,000 ($50,000, then $100,000 and then $200,000). $350,000 more came his way when he followed up this year with a three-match sweep of Daniel Negreanu.

Last month, Hellmuth started up a High Stakes Duel series with an unusual foe in Fox Sports host Nick Wright, dispatching the amateur in a hard-fought battle to pocket $50,000 more.

It wasn’t too much of a surprise when Wright decided not to go on from there, perhaps sensing that his close loss the first time was probably about as good as he could hope to achieve against the Hall of Famer.

Pro Poker Player Antonio Esfandiari

Speculation began to run rampant about who would take up the mantle from there against Phil. Whoever it was would have to jump right in and put $100,000 on the line against the red-hot Hellmuth because of the format of the High Stakes Duel.

But it was no huge surprise when Tom Dwan was named as the new challenger this past week.

Dwan had shown interest in taking on Hellmuth but had been passed over by PokerGo, first in favor of Negreanu (understandable) then Wright (not as understandable, although the novelty of the matchup made it intriguing). There was no way that Dwan would pass up the invitation.

Dwan has taken a different path to this point than Hellmuth, for sure. He made his name mostly as an internet cash-game player originally instead of a big live-tournament guy. On top of that, he recently starred in the newest edition of the poker series High-Stakes Poker, giving his profile a further lift with more casual poker fans.

As you can say regarding just about every major poker player over the past three decades or so, Dwan has some history with Hellmuth.

In the 2008 National Heads-Up Poker Championship, Dwan knocked Hellmuth out just three hands into their first-round match when his pair of tens outdrew Phil’s pair of aces.

Before Dwan could shake his hand and apologize for the luck, Hellmuth blew up and criticized Dwan’s play, leading Dwan to say he’d play him heads-up anytime, anywhere.

Well, that time and place have now been set at August 25th, with $100,000 on the line.

If Hellmuth can continue his incredible winning streak, Dwan will have to decide if he wants the rematch. But if Dwan can turn the tables, it could make for the resuming of a major rivalry that only took 13 years or so to get up and running again.

New Site for WSOP?

The World Series of Poker is returning to live action this year following 2020, when it ended up being an odd combination of online action and a last-minute live final table.

Now comes the rumors that the Rio, long the home for the action (since 2005) might be hosting its last WSOP this year, at least for the foreseeable future. A Facebook post from, of all things, a billiards league has sparked the speculation.

The VNEA Pool League has been hosted by Bally’s Hotel and Casino, but the post insinuated that would change next year. According to this post, the reason was that the casino needed room to host the 2022 World Series of Poker.

Bally's Hotel and Casino Las Vegas

Hence, the Pool League was touting its move to the Westgate Las Vegas.

If this were all true, the WSOP could end up at Bally’s or the Paris, which Is under the same ownership. And that would mean the end of the line for the Rio. The question remains whether any of this is set in stone.

Well, it seems odd that the Pool League’s social media folks would have made this announcement in advance of the bigger news (at least in terms of event popularity) that the WSOP, a nationally-televised institution, would be changing locations, at least if it weren’t true.

It’s possible it was just a gaffe by an overeager employee. But you would think that there must be some truth to it, even if the details could still be up in the air.

Assuming that this is more than just idle gossip, it would mark the end of an era. The Rio stepped up at a time when the World Series of Poker was skyrocketing in popularity due to the boom in televised poker. It hosted many memorable WSOPs, featuring some of the biggest names in popularity.

But the last year or so, and the challenge that have accompanied that time period, have sparked many sea changes in the casino world. It could be that this change is an inevitable one. We’ll keep you posted if any official announcements are made in the near future.

New App Excites Poker Fans

Poker pro Matt Jarvis came out on the losing end of one of the most memorable hands in tournament poker history about a decade ago. In 2010, Jarvis crashed out of the World Series of Poker final table in eighth place in a rollercoaster of a hand against Michael Mizrachi.

In the all-in hand, Jarvis trailed, then led, then lost as an overwhelming hand favorite, his fortune changing drastically as each new card was revealed.

Jarvis promises that amateurs everywhere can feel that excitement with the Cash Live Poker App, which he created and also serves as one its top investors.

Poker Pro Matt Jarvis

The idea is that those who download the app get to battle it out in daily tournaments and possibly win cash prizes without putting anything at stake. On top of that, if they do perform well, they get the spotlight in ways they couldn’t hope to enjoy if they were playing anonymously online.

The final tables are broadcast, complete with commentary, as if they were professional tournaments. Winning players can even get interviewed. It makes for a more immersive experience than you can get with typical online play, and the price is right.

The decision-making process is winnowed down to players deciding whether to fold or go all-in based on what their hole cards are and what comes in the flop.

That makes it a bit easier for casual players to get involved in the action without having to know the ins and outs of elite Texas Hold’em strategy.

Make some right decisions and you could wind up on the Cash Live Poker leaderboard, which could lead to your getting interviewed on social media.

Among the investors are star poker players like Phil Hellmuth, who occasionally participate in the action.

This app seems to strike a nice balance between professional poker authenticity and casual fun for everyone. Good on Jarvis for taking his poker lemons and turning them into entrepreneurial lemonade.

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