The 16-time World Series of Poker champion has become a mainstay on the show, going 9-1 on the series. Hellmuth now faces off against one of the brightest minds in poker in Koon. The challenger spoke with USPoker this week about meeting up with the Poker Brat.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching previous matches, I’m really excited to get to play,” Koon says. “The format is a little bit insane, but I’m always in for some high-stakes gambling.”
Hellmuth dominating ‘High Stakes Duel’
This new matchup developed after Scott Seiver had to bow out of a return to the show. As part of the format, a player can rematch the winner in each round or another player can step up. PokerGO offered up the spot via Twitter and received numerous responses from poker pros looking to play.
Each player brings in $800,000 to this duel and Hellmuth can walk away a winner if he scoops the cash. Hellmuth topped Seiver in May and has also beaten the following players since the show’s debut:
- Antonio Esfandiari
- Daniel Negreanu
- Nick Wright
- Tom Dwan
Dwan is the only player to beat Hellmuth on the show so far, but Koon is hoping to take him down as well. Koon gives credit to the huge run his opponent has had on High Stakes Duel.
“It’s certainly been an incredible run,” he says. “Obviously the format of these sit-and-go tournaments is extremely high variance, but from what I’ve seen, he’s done some really good things versus his opponents.”
Koon steps up to the plate
Hellmuth will have his hands full when Koon enters the PokerGO Studio. With more than $38 million in live tournament winnings, he has a deep poker record of success.
Koon is originally from West Virginia and his poker resumé includes titles on the WSOP, Triton Poker, PokerGO Cup, Poker Masters, and more. When it comes to playing Hellmuth, Koon also has some experience to bring to the table.
“I’ve played with Phil since 2009 but we don’t play as much anymore,” he says. “I generally play higher buy-in events and am often overseas. Occasionally we will cross paths in a WSOP high roller or on a televised cash game.”
For opponents, Hellmuth’s outlook on the game and unorthodox play at times can make him a tricky player.
“Phil shifts gears really well and plays a very funky style that always keeps you guessing,” he says. “I’m just going to approach the match being as fundamentally sound as I can be, considering the format and go from there.”
Due to personal reasons, Scott Seiver has withdrawn from his upcoming HSD 3 Round 5 match with Phil Hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth).
Who wants to step up and challenge Phil Hellmuth?
You need $800K and to let us know by Monday, Aug 15 at 3PM PT*. pic.twitter.com/nMQSlAepCq
— PokerGO (@PokerGO) August 12, 2022
Not focusing on the stakes
Right away Koon steps into a round that sees some huge stakes on the line. A win and the next round would be worth $1.6 million each. If Hellmuth wina, he could also cash out and walk away as well.
“Given that I’m forced to accept a match for $1.6 million, it would be a fantastic result,” Koon says of finding a victory. “Right now all of my focus is just getting through the $800,000 round.”
While there may be some major money on the line, Koon is focusing more on his game. And while Hellmuth has seen major success on the series, his challenger feels he’s got a great shot to score a championship belt in Las Vegas.
“I do my best to always be prepared for whatever I’m going to play,” he says. “This match will be no different. I’m simply approaching the match trying to be free from the pressure of the stakes, and focus on what I can control. At best I’m a 60/40 favorite, anything can happen.”
PokerGO hasn’t announced a date for the match yet, but is expected to offer details soon. Stay turned to USPoker for more updates.
* images courtesy PokerGO