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Erik Seidel tops Phil Hellmuth heads-up in US Poker Open event

Thirty years after Erik Seidel beat Phil Hellmuth to win the first of his nine World Series of Poker bracelets, Seidel defeated Hellmuth at the U.S. Poker Open.

The Poker Hall of Famers were the final two players in the $25,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event when Seidel topped Hellmuth in heads-up play Friday to win $472,500 at the PokerGO studio by the Aria.

“It’s pretty wild that the two of us got heads up,” Seidel said. “That’s the third time we’ve been heads up, so it was fun.”

Seidel improved to 3-0 heads-up against Hellmuth. The first meeting was in 1988 in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament at the Bicycle Casino. The second was in 1992 at Binion’s, where Seidel defeated Hellmuth in the WSOP $2,500 Limit Hold’em event.

“It’s always fun to play a final table,” Seidel said. “I don’t think there’s any extra meaning to it that we were heads up, as I would’ve been happy to win against anybody. It’s just nice when things go your way for a few hours in a critical period like this.”

The win pushed Seidel, 62, to fourth place on poker’s all-time money list, ahead of David Peters, with $39.2 million in career tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob.

Hellmuth won $315,000 for his second runner-up finish of the U.S. Poker Open to push his career earnings to $27.1 million.

To get to heads-up play, Hellmuth eliminated Alex Foxen in third place when his king-queen beat Foxen’s ace-ten.

Seidel had a lead of 4.2 million in chips when heads-up play began. Hellmuth cut the deficit to 1.1 million in chips when he rivered a straight against Seidel’s two pair. But Seidel built his lead to almost five million in chips before the final hand.

Seidel raised to 275,000 with queen-jack. Hellmuth called with jack-nine, and the flop came jack-three-two. Hellmuth checked, and Seidel bet 200,000. Hellmuth check-raised to 500,000, and Seidel went all-in. Hellmuth called, and Seidel’s hand held up.

The U.S. Poker Open is a 12-tournament series that will be capped by Monday’s $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em event.

The player to earn the most series leaderboard points will be crowned the U.S. Poker Open champion and take home a $50,000 championship bonus and the Golden Eagle trophy.

Tamon Nakamura leads with 588 points after winning twice and cashing six times in the series. Only two players can pass him. Sean Winter must win Monday’s series finale to clinch the title. If Winter doesn’t win, Shannon Shorr can claim the crown with a runner-up finish in the finale.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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