The 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner earned $200,000 and the respect of the two top next-generation heads-up poker specialists he beat to win the entertaining four-way heads-up competition.
The event played out live on the Poker Night in America Twitch channel from Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady Tuesday and Wednesday.
Cates Versus Kassela ends quick
The action kicked off on Tuesday with online poker nosebleed hero Dan “Jungleman” Cates taking on 2010 WSOP Player of the Year Frank Kassela. The match lasted all of five hands with Kasella flopping two pair and failing to find a fold after Cates turned a straight.
However, the less-than-ten-minutes the match lasted was enough to indicate King of the Hill viewers were in for a treat. In fact, all signs pointed to this being a more entertaining stream than the much-hyped, but rather subdued, Poker Night in America Grudge Match between Cate Hall and Mike Dentale held this past March.
Kasella and Cates were talkative, engaged, and clearly willing to gamble with the $50,000 each put up. Plus, commentators Shaun Deeb and Doug Polk came prepared with on-point analysis, opinion and a willingness to get out of the way of any table talk.
To fill air time before the second match, Polk came out of the booth to play Cates heads up in a pair of $10,000 heads-up bonus matches. He won both without much sweat. However, he could not carry that momentum into his match with Hellmuth.
Hellmuth over Polk in all the big pots
Polk won the small ones, but the 1989 WSOP Main Event champ got the better of the YouTube poker content star in all the big pots they played. As he’s known to do, Hellmuth spent most of the match threatening to trap an overzealous Polk. Although things did not really play out that way, he did manage to get Polk to make a couple of big calls with second best along the way to the win.
Polk was affable and engaging throughout and the result was some fun banter with the ego that is Hellmuth, as the latter booked his spot in Wednesday’s final with Cates.
Hellmuth loses his patience
Wednesday’s winner-take-all best-of-three final format saw Hellmuth come back to win the first match. The second went to Cates with Hellmuth losing his vaunted patience and calling off his stack trying to catch Cates bluffing. But it was the decisive third match that made the live stream something special from a poker perspective.
For some reason, Hellmuth bluffed off a huge percentage of his stack with three-high early on. Cates made a crying call with aces-up and took a stranglehold on the match.
Although he was down to just 5,800 from a 100,000-chip starting stack, Hellmuth did not give up. He soon doubled up, picked up some big hands, and was fighting his way back into it when he tried another big bluff.
It looked like the title would be Cates’ when Hellmuth fired a big bet with just queen-high after Cates turned trip tens. Cates called the bet but snap-folded when Hellmuth pushed all in for less on the river.
The hand appeared to tilt Cates a little, and give Hellmuth all the momentum he would need to complete the miraculous comeback and ride on to victory.
All of the entertainment value, none of the TV blow-ups
While Cates and Hellmuth are famous for blowing up on TV broadcasts, both held it together for the most part. Still, the live stream was as entertaining as they come. There was more than enough banter back and forth between the players and Polk admirably filled in the gaps as the commentator.
It was white magic versus math and old school versus new school. Both admitted it, had fun with it, and entertained the more than 8,000 live streams viewers with discussion of it throughout.
In the end, Hellmuth capped off his comeback getting it in with ace-high versus Cates’ king-high and holding.
“I just never give up in those spots,” Hellmuth said about his massive comeback.
Poker Night in America continues from Rivers Schenectady
Poker Night in America filmed all the action for an upcoming national broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Plus, the Poker Night in America action will continue from Rivers Schenectady Thursday and Friday with an invite-only 7-handed cash game streamed live on the Poker Night in America Twitch channel. The cash game stream starts at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time on both days.