Jason Koon Crushes Hellmuth in High Stakes Duel For $1.6 million

8 Dec
Jason Koon beats Phil Hellmuth

It was the biggest match in the history of High Stakes Duel; both players stumped up $800,000 in cash with the hopes of taking home a mammoth $1.6 million. But in the end, Jason Koon came out on top - and, in all honesty, he made it look effortless.

Many in the poker community have doubted Phil’s ability to keep up with the brightest minds of this generation, but his 9-1 record in this event will tell you otherwise. Koon was respectful of Phil in the pre-match interview, talking up his achievements in the poker world, particularly in heads-up events.

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This is a very different tactic to the other players we’ve seen, most of whom have declared their intention to “crush” Phil in a format that many people think he isn’t suited to. It seems as though this was a conscious decision not to get caught up in the battle of egos that usually happens when Phil is at the table; Jason was content to sit tight and play his own game.

Jason wasn’t the only one who came in with a different strategy than usual, as Phil started the match in a much more aggressive manner than we were used to seeing. Rather than limping every hand from the button, we actually saw Phil raise hands - something we’re not used to seeing in these events!


Hellmuth Loses a Quarter of his Stack with Q6o

While his strategy of raising from the button didn’t last long, we saw what many people consider to be Phil’s fatal weakness in these games, and what Daniel Negreanu calls his “zoom zoom” mode. Phil is a feel player. He doesn’t consider things like math or ranges when making his decisions; he goes off pure vibes.

Sometimes that can make you look like a genius, but sometimes it can make you look like a complete amateur. Contrary to what people may think of Phil, he’s not scared to get in the streets and mix it up, and that’s exactly what we saw early on with his Q6o hand. Phil limped Q6o on the button with blinds at 1.5K/2.5K, and Jason raised to 10.5K with black aces.

hellmuth 5bet against koon aa

For many people, this would be the end of the hand, but Phil decided to get aggressive and 3bet to 32K. Jason put in the 4bet to 120K, as you would expect, and you’re thinking that at this point, Phil is just gonna let it go - but no! He 5bets it to 260K! Jason obviously moves all-in, and Phil folds, losing over a quarter of his stack in a situation where all he should have lost was 2.5K.


Action Hands with Great Bluffs

While Phil would eventually get those chips back, this remained the theme of the night. That being said, don’t think that Jason had the win handed to him on a silver platter; he was working for it and pulling off some great bluffs.

One of the best examples was in a limped pot, where Phil limped 82o, and Jason checked J9o in the big blind. The flop came AQTr, and Jason check-called a bet of 55% pot from Phil. The turn was the Jc, giving Jason a pair and Phil a straight draw. Both players checked, and the river was the 9s, giving Jason two pair and Phil a straight. However, it’s important to note that any king would make a higher straight.

Hellmuth vs Koon straight vs two pair bluff

Jason led out for a min bet of 4K, Phil instantly bumped it up to 9.5K, and after a short consideration, Jason made it 30K, repping the king! Phil snap folded, giving Jason the pot and what was surely a great boost to his confidence.

It was clear at this point that Jason had the upper hand, and Phil had to do something to get back into the game. However, for reasons that only he will know, he decided that the best way to win back his chips was to start 3betting absolute garbage, knowing that he’d have to play out of position against one of the best in the game.

This was best exemplified when Jason opened JTo to 12K with blinds at 2.5K/5K, and Phil decided to 3bet 74o to 36K. You read that right; he 3bet 74o against Jason Koon! Jason called, and they saw a flop of Jd8d6c. Phil checked, and Jason played it tricky by checking back too.

Hellmuth 3bets with 74 off against Koon

The turn was the Tc, putting two flush draws on the board. It also gave Jason two pair, and Phil a double gutter. Phil bet 62K into 72K, and Jason again decided to play it slow and just call. The 7d brought four to a straight and three to a flush, but Phil couldn’t pull the trigger on a bluff, and Jason happily checked back with his two pair to win a huge pot, along with a 3-1 chip advantage.

This loss had Phil talking to himself as he often does at the table, complaining about the quality of his opponent’s hand - seemingly forgetting that he 3bet the hand with 74o. Certainly a case of pot meets kettle if there ever was one!


Jason Koon Runs Good When It Counts

To give Phil the benefit of the doubt, Jason did seem to have the run of the cards as the match progressed. He had strong hands in the majority of the big pots they played together, and some of those decisions would certainly have been harder if he had missed the flop.

That being said, there was an air of calmness and control that we haven’t really seen from any of Phil’s challengers in this format. Once Jason amassed his comfortable lead, he never looked like letting it go.

He just kept whittling down Phil’s stack with every hand played, seemingly making all the right moves at all the right times. It wasn’t long until he had an over 10-1 chip advantage, and you could sense that the end was near for the former Main Event champ.

An example of how well Jason ran in the big spots, the two played a hand where Phil limped the button with Kh2h at 3K/6K, Jason raised it to 24K with 6d4d, and Phil called. The flop came JJJ, Jason bet 60% pot and Phil snap-called. The turn was a queen, and both players checked before a four on the river gave Jason a full house. Jason bet around ⅓ pot on the river, Hellmuth called, and was disgusted when he saw he got rivered.

Hellmuth vs Koon k2 vs 64


Final Hand Action

That turned out to be the penultimate hand, as the very next hand Jason raised from the button with Q8o, and Phil 3bet AKo off of 17bb effective. Jason thought about it for a few seconds before putting Phil all in. Phil obviously snapped him off, which meant Jason had a 33% chance of winning the $1.6 million right there and then.

Hellmuth vs Koon final hand

The flop was queen-high, giving Jason top pair, but Phil also flopped a gutshot, giving him four more outs. However, unfortunately for him, both the turn and river were bricks, giving Jason Koon the victory and the $1.6 million in prize money.


High Stakes Duel Rematch

Time will tell whether or not Hellmuth will exercise his option for a rematch; as the last challenger, he has “first dibs” on playing Jason if he wishes, but after such a comprehensive beat down, there may be some doubt creeping into his mind. Having doubts is the last thing you’d want if you were to take the rematch, as according to High Stakes Duel rules, the stakes will be doubled, meaning that both players will have to pony up $1.6 million to play.

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If Phil declines the rematch, players from around the world have 30 days to challenge Jason. If there is a challenger during that time, Jason must accept and play for a prize pool of $3.2 million; otherwise, he’s free to take the money. There have been rumours that if Phil decides not to play, online crushers such as Linus Loeliger and Wictor Malinowski are waiting in the wings to see if their online heads-up success will carry over.

Either way, I’m sure that, like us, you’re all hoping that someone challenges Jason - I mean, who doesn’t want to see a heads-up match for $3.2 million? As soon as a potential challenger is confirmed, we’ll be here to give you the lowdown on the biggest televised heads-up match.

Until then, if you want to keep up to date with the biggest and best tournament series from around the poker world, join our PokerDeals discord, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.



Images courtesy of PokerGo

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Cory Desmond - NLH High Roller Event Winner What did you like most about The Festival in Malta, besides placing first in the NLH High Roller event? One thing that really stood out to me was how friendly the players were. The Festival did a superb job in cultivating a fun, relaxed atmosphere and it seemed like the players had a great time as a result. One of my favourite things about live poker specifically is the opportunity to meet new people with different backgrounds, stories, strategies etc. and I made a bunch of new friends during this series, so I'm grateful for that. The schedule was also solid and offered a good variety of games and stake levels. Did you try any other formats or tournaments, besides the NLH event? I've been dipping my toes in the "mixed game streets” since the beginning of 2023 and gave both the HORSE and the PLO/PLO8 events a shot. I didn't cash either of those events, but they're a nice respite from NLHE MTTs, which can be pretty excruciating at times. 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Over a decade ago I played some UKIPT stops throughout the UK and Ireland which was always a great laugh. Also went to Lima, Peru to play an LAPT when I was 19 after winning a Pokerstars satellite - also a really incredible experience. I went to an event in Croatia back then around the same time which was beautiful. More recently, Bratislava for the Polish Poker Open a couple of years ago and Vegas for the WSOP last summer. I fired the Main Event and some side events/daily MTTs without much luck, unfortunately, but I see it as an investment in myself and the experience earned will hopefully pay dividends in the future. Plus, an item to tick off the expanding bucket list! Matthew Micallef - 7th Place in Main Event What did you like most about The Festival in Malta, besides placing so well? The structure of the main event was perfect considering the starting stack. Also, I liked the fact that day 1 finished early rather than having long breaks and ending up finishing at 1am. 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We hope this inspires you to get out there and play some poker. Remember, you can't win unless you play! For more poker news, strategy and insight, remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram . Images courtesy of thefestival.com

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After sharing the game with the world on episodes of High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark, it quickly swept the poker scene, and soon, everyone was playing this game at the table. If you want to join in the fun, the game is really easy to play. First, set an amount that you're going to be playing for - it's best to keep the amount low if you're just playing between friends at the poker table. Next, designate someone to be Johnny Lodden (unless he's already at your table and willing to play!); they're going to be the ones deciding the answer to your question. Once you have someone to be your Lodden, you need to think of a question. In the very first game of Lodden Thinks, the question asked to Johnny was what he thinks the world record for holding one's breath is, but you can ask any question you like! The best part about this game is that you're betting on what someone thinks - so you don't need to know the correct answer. Once you have your Lodden and your question, the two players playing the game need to bet on what they think their friend thinks is the answer to the question. The best way to do this is to auction, and one player takes the under or over when they're happy to. For example, if the question is "How many cars are in the city of London," Player A may say over 1 million, then Player B says over 3.5 million, then Player A says over 4 million, etc. etc., until one person thinks it's under the amount. So, if you think it would be under 4 million, you "take the under," which means if they guessed under 4 million, you win, but if they guessed over 4 million, you lose. The game is a lot of fun and a great way to get some action going on a boring table. 9. Erick Lindgren's Four Rounds of Golf in a Day We quickly move from a bet we'd heartily recommend to one that we'd highly discourage - unless you're on the other side of it! Notable poker pro Erick Lindgren was challenged by Phil Ivey, Gavin Smith, and others to play four rounds of the Bear's Best course in Las Vegas back to back. Any golfer will know just how tough playing multiple rounds in a day can be, but add 100-degree Las Vegas heat to the equation, and what is a tough but doable challenge soon becomes much more daunting. Not only that, but Erick had to walk the entire course of Bear's Best, playing each round from the back tees scoring under 100 every round! To rub salt into the wounds, Erick's opponents got to pick which day he played, and they picked one of the hottest days of the year - who needs enemies when you have friends like that! We're sure many professionals would struggle to complete the bet based on these parameters, but with $340K on the line, Erick was going to give it his best shot. In fact, he did such a good job on his first three rounds that everyone but Ivey bought out during his fourth and final round. However, with $200K on the line, Ivey wasn't going to give up without a fight and made Erick complete the challenge - which he did. He may have won the bet, but Erick suffered dehydration and heat exhaustion, causing him to lose 14 pounds in a single day! 8. Vegetarian Phil Ivey Anyone who watched Season 6 of High Stakes Poker will be familiar with the Phil Ivey vegetarian bet, as it was a major talking point throughout most of the season. In fact, you can see some of the negotiations happen at the table, giving us a rare insight into how these bets are made. After much deliberation, it was decided that Tom Dwan would bet Phil Ivey $1 million that he couldn't be a vegetarian for the year. This bet was completely on the honour system, so Tom must have really trusted Phil if he was willing to risk $1 million! Despite Daniel Negreanu offering to help Ivey adjust his diet, Phil didn't last very long, succumbing only three weeks into the bet. He called up Tom and offered to buy out of the bet for $150,000 to eat some chicken. Tom obliged, and Phil ate what is likely the most expensive chicken dish in the world - we hope it was worth it! 7. Biker Bilzerian Bill Perkins is no stranger to a prop bet, and who better to bet against than millionaire Playboy Dan Bilzerian. Anyone who's followed Bill's prop betting will know that they all have an element of physical challenge to them, and this one is arguably one of the most challenging he's set. He gave Dan Bilzerian 48 hours to bike from Las Vegas to L.A. - that's roughly 300 miles in just two days! However, if he could do it, there would be a $600K prize waiting for him in L.A. Given that Bilzerian had claimed to have not ridden a bike for 18 years, this seemed like it would be a dead cert for Bill Perkins. However, after getting coaching from Lance Armstrong (hopefully just coaching) and putting in a lot of hard work and effort, Bilzerian was ready to take on the challenge. As an added bit of motivation, he also bet fellow degenerate Rick Salomon that he wouldn't die during the challenge. If he did, he would give his private jet to Salomon, whereas Salomon would have to pay out $250K if he did survive the challenge. Bilzerian smashed the bet, completing the journey in around 36 hours - giving him 12 hours to spare. While his body certainly felt the effects of the bet for a little while after, he walked away $850K richer. 6. MMA Madness Poker pros are no strangers to beef - if you think the modern disagreements between players like Doug Polk, Matt Berkey, and Nik Airball are a new thing, you're sorely mistaken! Back then, players weren't so keen on heads-up for rolls challenges, especially if one of the opponents was known as an expert heads-up player. So, when JC Avalardo and Olivier Busquet had a disagreement, they decided to bet $150K on a 5-round MMA match. Alvarado went into the match as a favourite thanks to his experience in Jiu-Jitsu, but Busquet used his training time well and came into the fight looking like a pro fighter. The jacked poker star dominated the fight from start to finish and was declared the winner after the third round on medical grounds. 5. Esfandiari Lunges towards Victory Lunges are one of those exercises that look a lot easier than they actually are. After a couple of minutes of lunges, your legs are on fire, and you can't wait to start walking like a normal person again. One person who seemingly didn't get the memo on just how painful lunges are is Antonio Esfandiari, who bet Bill Perkins $50,000 that he could only move via lunges for 48 hours during the 2016 PCA. The first day he got off easy, spending the majority of the day in his room at the Atlantis Resort and Casino, but day 2 saw him play the Main Event. To make matters worse, his room was about as far away from the playing area as it could have been, making things even tougher. After an exhausting day of lunging from place to place, Esfandiaria was on break in the tournament and needed the bathroom. Rather than face another lunge-filled trip to the bathroom, he decided to relieve himself at the table by covering himself with a jacket and using an empty water bottle. However, he wasn't as subtle as he thought, and several people witnessed the event. He was shortly ejected from the tournament due to a "breach of etiquette," but Esfandiari did win the bet with Perkins. Embarrassed by his actions, Antonio decided to donate the entire $50K bet to charity, splitting the money between One Drop and REG. It's not often that spending a penny will cost you $50K and a tournament entry! 4. Titanic Golf Shot One of the best known old-school gamblers, Titanic Thompson would bet on anything and everything. He was well known as a sharp gambler, but people couldn't help themselves when he offered such outlandish bets. One of those bets was that he could drive a golf ball over 500 yards. Even today, that would be considered an outlandish bet, but over 60 years ago, an expert player's drive was only around 200 yards; so, you'd be silly not to take that bet, right? Well, someone did take that bet, and they realised why you should never bet against Titanic Thompson. Thompson waited until the winter, then drove the ball onto a frozen lake. The ball bounced way past the required distance, and Titanic Thompson won the bet. 3. Amarillo Slim's Mad Selection Another old-school gambler with plenty of insane prop bets to pick from is Amarillo Slim. In fact, we found it so hard to pick just one bet we've settled on a list of some of his greatest hits. These include: Rafting down the "River of No Return" in the dead of winter. Beating a world champion ping pong player using coke bottles as paddles. Beating a horse in a 100-yard dash (achieved by running 50 yards, then doing a 180-degree turn before running back). Riding a camel through Casino El Mamounia in Marrakesh. And, our favourite, betting that a cat could pick up a Coke bottle. With a list like this, it's no wonder that Amarillo Slim is often considered the greatest gambler of his generation. 2. Not so "Kwik” Bathroom Break Back in the heyday of online poker, Jay Kwik was known for his levels of endurance. It was said that when he first started playing poker, he played for 10 days straight! Some of his friends, including notable high-stakes pro Andrew Robl, wanted to put that endurance to the test and challenged him to spend 30 days in the bathroom of his hotel suite in the Bellagio. Depending on your need for social interaction, this may either sound like a walk in the park or your idea of hell. However, to make things even harder for Jay, there were limitations placed on the bet. He would have no computer, no contact with his friends, and must be on camera constantly. You'd think that anyone forced to live in these conditions would quickly go mad, but Jay excelled at the challenge - so much so that Robl bought out for $40,000 four days before the end, saying that Kwik was "just too good." 1. Zembic's Bazoongas Arguably the most insane prop bet we've ever seen was made by poker pro Brian Zembic. He bet $100,000 back in 1996 that he could go one full year with breast implants. You read that right, Brian bet that he could live with breast implants for an entire year. Brian would have to pay for the implants himself and not have them removed for an entire year to win the bet. While it may seem like the jokes from your friends and loved ones would be too much to handle, Brian embraced the bet and went under the knife to receive 38C cup breast implants. Not only did Brian easily make it the whole year, but he became so fond of the new implants that he decided to keep them! As far as we know, he's yet to have them removed, saying that they're now a big part of his life and made him a much bigger hit with the ladies. According to the terms of the bet, Brian wins an additional $10,000 for every year he keeps the implants after the initial year, meaning that he's won over $350K from this bet alone. We hope you've enjoyed this round-up of PokerDeal's favourite insane poker player prop bets, but please do take care before making any insane prop bets of your own! If you do try any crazy prop bets, remember to bet within your means, use an escrow where possible, and for God's sake, don't do anything dangerous!

24 May

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