First, Daniel Negreanu wanted to play Phil Hellmuth heads-up. Now, he’s making a high-stakes bet that he can’t compete against the world’s best poker players in high-stakes tournaments.
Negreanu tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he bet against the 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner being profitable in the $25,000 buy-in tournaments that have recently started running again at the Aria in Las Vegas. Negreanu will be laying 2:1 against Hellmuth profiting over a 50-tournament sample size.
Negreanu will be laying $400,000 against Hellmuth’s $200,000. If Hellmuth finishes in the black over the course of that sample size, Negreanu will lose the bet and fork over the six-figure sum.
Bet offered and accepted:
I’m laying $400k to
phil_hellmuth</a> $200k that over 50 $25k buy in <a href="https://twitter.com/AriaLV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">AriaLV tournaments that Hellmuth will end up in the red.
If he shows a $1 profit he wins the bet.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) March 2, 2021
The bet looks like an extension of a recently ignited feud between the two poker legends. Following Negreanu’s seven-figure loss to Doug Polk in their high-stakes heads-up grudge match, Hellmuth publicly criticized the six-time bracelet winner’s play in the challenge.
Hellmuth’s words sparked a fiery response from Negreanu, who offered to play heads-up at any stakes in any venue for any duration. The challenge seemed to imply a cash game challenge, which Negreanu had just spent months studying, but the two agreed to play in a heads-up sit-n-go format on PokerGO’s “High Stakes Duel.”
It will be Hellmuth’s second battle on the show after beating Antonio Esfandiari three straight matches for $400,000 in his first go-around.
Not only is Negreanu calling his heads-up game into question but is now openly doubting how good Hellmuth is at multi-table tournaments, a format that has netted him the career WSOP bracelet record, as well as more than $22 million in earnings.
Other high roller regulars are agreeing with Negreanu. Ali Imsirovic, a 24-year-old pro who made a meteoric rise up the ranks while netting more than $9 million in career tournament earnings, offered to wager even more if Hellmuth was willing to take more action.
If hellmuth wants more action, I’ll bet as much as he wants. pic.twitter.com/nBZMXR1QSt
— Ali (@aliImsirovic) March 3, 2021
Four-time WSOP bracelet winner and 2009 WSOP main event winner Joe Cada was willing to bet that the challenge doesn’t even get completed.
Can I bet this challenge doesn’t get completed? Has Phil even played over 50 25k’s in his lifetime?
— Joseph Cada (@JoeCada99) March 3, 2021
A few others implied that the regulars are already licking their chops at the thought of Hellmuth being a regular spot in the field.
25k regs rn pic.twitter.com/kMIXDjIGep
— Max Silver (@max_silver) March 3, 2021
Germans right now pic.twitter.com/XTQh6nAt80
— Alex Huang (@alexjhuang) March 3, 2021
Aria’s Director of Poker Operations Sean McCormack said in the thread that Aria has “a few a month on average,” when someone asked how many $25,000 buy-ins run regularly. It will likely take Hellmuth most of the year to complete the challenge at that pace, but the frequency that the property runs those tournaments will increase if there is a major live tournament series this summer or fall.
When it comes to high-stakes tournaments, Hellmuth has always been somewhat of a polarizing figure.
During his heads-up match with Esfandiari, high-stakes legend Phil Galfond gave Hellmuth props, saying that it took him a long time to realize “just how talented he is.” The tweet was met with backlash from many high-stakes pros claiming that Hellmuth was overrated.