Nick Wright couldn’t topple Phil Hellmuth from his “High Stakes Duel” throne, but he made him sweat.
Hellmuth remained undefeated in the “Duel” format on the subscription video service PokerGO, winning a $50,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em heads-up match with Wright, an FS1 talk show personality and avid amateur poker player.
“He had me dazed and confused and frustrated,” Hellmuth said after the 5½-hour match.
Wright led for the first two hours and had Hellmuth ranting in his signature “Poker Brat” style after Wright rivered two pair to beat Hellmuth’s top pair. After Hellmuth tried a poorly timed bluff against quad queens, Wright held a chip lead of about 2-1.
However, Hellmuth, 57, the all-time leader with 15 World Series of Poker tournament victories, gradually took control against Wright, 36, the co-host of “First Things First” on FS1.
On the final hand, both players made a flush on the turn, but Hellmuth’s eight-five of clubs trumped Wright’s seven-six of clubs. Wright raised all-in on the river, then yelled “No!” in disbelief after Hellmuth called and revealed his hand.
“I can’t believe I lost that last hand,” Wright said. “Phil played great. I played well for the first two hours, then I played really, really badly for an hour and was clawing my way back from it.”
Hellmuth is now 7-0 on “High Stakes Duel,” having previously swept three straight matches each against Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Negreanu.
Wright has the right to a rematch at double the stakes, but Hellmuth said he would prefer to move on and play someone else.
“There’s too much pressure,” Hellmuth said of playing an amateur player. “If I lose to him, then it feels like I lose some legacy points.”
Wright said he would take his time to decide whether to pony up $100,000 for another challenge.
“I got 72 hours, right? I’m going to need 71 of them,” he said.
Top high-stakes pros Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey have been named as possible challengers to Hellmuth if Wright decides to move on.
“Dwan or Ivey, whoever,” Hellmuth said. “Either one is fine.”