How Phil Hellmuth Misplaced His $1.6 Million Match In opposition to A High Professional (Evaluation)

How Phil Hellmuth Lost His $1.6 Million Match Against A Top Pro (Analysis)

Phil Hellmuth has been an absolute wrecking ball in excessive stakes heads-up matches on PokerGO…

…however he simply went up towards the impenetrable fortress that’s elite poker professional Jason Koon.

This text will retell the story of that match by recapping (and briefly analyzing) the 9 most notable fingers.

However first, let’s set the stage.

Notice: All photographs on this article are screenshots from PokerGO’s protection of this match. You may watch the complete match (and different poker content material) by changing into a PokerGO subscriber.

Featured photograph credit score (edited from unique): Drew Amato


PokerGO’s Excessive Stakes Duel is a sequence of ongoing heads-up matches during which the buy-ins escalate (beginning at $50,000 and doubling after every match).

Hellmuth was 9-1 on Excessive Stakes Duel going into his match earlier this week. He had crushed numerous sturdy (and arguably not-so-strong) opponents together with Scott Seiver, Antonio Esfandiari, and Daniel Negreanu.

Throughout the ten matches, Hellmuth had netted $1,250,000 in revenue. However he needed to threat almost two-thirds of that on this $800,000 buy-in match towards his most formidable opponent but — Jason Koon.

jason koon

Koon is likely one of the most feared poker gamers on the planet. He’s cashed for almost $42 million in stay poker tournaments (seventh most all-time) and has additionally put up large numbers on-line. He’s a well-rounded beast who you don’t want to see at your desk.

With that out of the way in which, let’s get into how this match went down.

Hand #1: Hellmuth Mistimes Huge Preflop Bluff

The primary 45 minutes of play had been uneventful, with each gamers buying and selling small pots and their stack sizes hovering near the 800,000 chips with which they began.

Then, this hand occurred.

Preflop motion: With the blinds at 1,500/3,000, Hellmuth limps on the button with Q♥ 6♠. Koon appears to be like down at A♠ A♣ and raises to 10,500.

Nothing tremendous uncommon but. Hellmuth’s limp with Q6o is cheap and Koon has a must-raise with Pocket Aces. However then the hand begins to fly off the rails.

Preflop motion (continued): Hellmuth responds with a 3-bet to 32,000. Koon 4-bets to 120,000. Hellmuth 5-bets to 260,000. Koon raises all-in. Hellmuth folds.

And identical to that, Hellmuth loses a giant chunk (31%) of his stack with a mistimed transfer. He’s nonetheless bought almost 200 large blinds, nonetheless, so he’s nonetheless very a lot on this match.

This did immediate Hellmuth to interrupt out his signature “get up in frustration” transfer for the primary time within the match.

hellmuth erupts

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Hand #2: Hellmuth Strikes Again

The blinds are nonetheless 1,500/3,000 and Hellmuth’s bought round 550k to begin this hand.

Preflop motion: Koon raises to 7,000 with 9♦ 7♦. Hellmuth 3-bets to 30,000 with A♥ 4♠. Koon calls.

Koon makes a regular elevate together with his suited one-gapper.

Hellmuth 3-bet with A4o is uncommon. Weak offsuit Aces carry out a lot better as calls on this spot. By 3-betting, he’s bloating the pot out of place with a hand that doesn’t have a lot playability and can usually be dominated. If his hand was suited or if he had a low/related offsuit hand (like 54o), 3-betting could be extra acceptable.

Koon is being laid pretty good odds (3-to-2) to name the 3-bet. Plus he has the benefit of place, a hand with nice playability, and deep stacks behind. Pretty trivial name for him with the 97s.

Flop motion: The flop is Ok♦ 8♥ 6♥. Hellmuth checks. Koon bets 30,000. Hellmuth shortly calls.

Hellmuth has a hand that would go both approach (wager or verify) on the flop. He opts to verify and Koon takes a half-pot-sized stab on the pot together with his open-ended straight draw. With the Ace of hearts in his hand, you possibly can’t fault Hellmuth for peeling a card.

Flip motion: The flip is the (Ok♦ 8♥ 6♥) Ok♥. Hellmuth checks. Koon bets 75,000. Hellmuth calls.

Hellmuth checks to the aggressor and Koon continues to signify a powerful hand (journey Kings or higher) with a medium wager. With the nut flush draw, Hellmuth properly isn’t going anyplace.

River motion: The river is the (Ok♦ 8♥ 6♥ Ok♥) T♥. Each gamers verify.

Hellmuth may lead out now that he’s rivered the nut flush, however checking is a advantageous play as nicely as a result of it permits Koon to proceed bluffing with fingers like 75s. Koon may also probably wager for worth with some worse fingers, comparable to a Queen-high flush.

With a rivered straight on a four-flush board, Koon has a straightforward verify again. It’s unlikely he would have paid off a lead from Hellmuth anyway.

And with that, Hellmuth pulled himself again to almost even.

Hand #3: Koon Is Locked In

The blinds are 2,000/4,000 and the gamers are almost even (Koon has 856k, Hellmuth as 744k).

Preflop motion: Hellmuth limps on the button with 8♦ 2♣. Koon checks J♠ 9♥.

Hellmuth’s limp with 82o is simply too unfastened. If there was an ante in play (which might enhance his pot odds) or if he was up towards a weak opponent (which might enable him to understand extra fairness), an argument might be made to limp with fingers as weak as this. However there is no such thing as a ante and Koon is a world-class participant who is not going to make it straightforward for Hellmuth to win pots after the flop. He’d be higher off ditching this one and shifting onto the subsequent hand.

Koon’s J9o just isn’t sturdy sufficient to boost for worth and never weak sufficient to boost as a bluff, so he properly checks.

Flop motion: The flop is A♣ Q♦ T♠. Koon checks. Hellmuth bets 4,500. Koon calls.

Hellmuth decides to take a stab at this pot, which appears a bit bold since he’s going to have little or no fairness when referred to as. Koon makes a straightforward name together with his straight draw.

Flip motion: The flip is the (A♣ Q♦ T♠) J♣. The motion goes verify, verify.

River motion: The river is the 9♠. Koon bets 4,000. Hellmuth raises to 9,500. Koon re-raises to 30,000. Hellmuth folds.

Koon opts to dam wager for worth together with his two pair, hoping to get referred to as by a hand like an Ace. Hellmuth decides to boost small for worth with the low finish of the straight, however Koon reads him nicely and comes again excessive, which elicits a fast fold from Hellmuth.

koon bluffs with two pair

This wasn’t a giant pot — Koon netted simply 18,000 chips on this one — however it exhibits simply how dialed-in he was on this match.

Hand #4: Koon Snap-Calls With Ace-Excessive On River

After a couple of small and medium-sized pots, this ego-bruising hand went down with the blinds nonetheless at 2,000/4,000.

Preflop motion: Koon raises to 10,000 with A♦ Q♦. Hellmuth 3-bets to 26,000 with Q♥ J♣. Koon calls.

One attention-grabbing notice right here is that Hellmuth 3-bet fairly small with this hand, whereas he had 3-bet to 32,000 only a few fingers prior with 7♠ 4♥. It’s attainable he has a sizing inform, going smaller with medium-strength fingers. Whether or not that’s true or not, I’m sure Koon observed this variation in 3-bet dimension.

Flop motion: The flop is 9♥ 9♣ 2♠. Hellmuth bets 32,000. Koon calls.

Hellmuth must be c-betting with a really wide selection on this flop, however a smaller dimension could be optimum. Whereas Hellmuth does have the stronger total vary, right here, Koon is the participant who’s extra more likely to have flopped journeys. When you will have the stronger total vary however your opponent has extra super-strong fingers, betting small is the way in which to go.

Koon can’t go anyplace simply but with Ace-Queen excessive on a flop like this. Let’s take a flip.

Flip motion: The flip is the (9♥ 9♣ 2♠) 3♣. Each gamers verify.

Hellmuth has a good hand with which to proceed bluffing, however he opts to decelerate. Koon has showdown worth and no good purpose to wager, so he checks again.

River motion: The river is the (9♥ 9♣ 2♠ 3♣) T♥. Hellmuth bets 52,000. Jason calls immediately.

Hellmuth decides to signify an overpair that slow-played the flip or a rivered prime pair, however his dimension is simply too small to actually check Koon. If he had a hand like QQ or AT, he’s virtually sure to have the very best hand and might go for a giant worth wager across the dimension of the pot.

In opposition to this lower than half pot dimension, Koon is getting a tremendous value (higher than 3-to-1) towards a spread that comprises many potential bluffing fingers. Bear in mind, Hellmuth had 3-bet with 7♠ 4♥ only a few fingers earlier, so it’s not arduous to think about him having a junky hand that takes a stab on the pot on the river.

Hellmuth’s face after this hand, which put Koon nicely above 1 million chips, says all of it.

hellmuth looking in disgust after getting snapped off

“Alright, now we’re taking part in the sport. Lastly! That is what I want! I want him to name me with Ace-high. Oh my God. Nice name. Okay, I let him run me over, and he nonetheless referred to as me down with Ace-high. Okay, I don’t see any path however up right here now. Let’s go Philly!” -Hellmuth moments after the hand

Hand #5: Let’s Play One other 3-Guess Pot

Hellmuth is down, however removed from out. His 532,000 chip stack continues to be over 100 large blinds going into this hand.

Preflop motion: Koon raises to 12,000 with J♠ T♦. Hellmuth 3-bets to 36,000 with 7♣ 4♠. Koon calls.

It’s okay to 3-bet some junky fingers preflop in heads-up poker, however it’s preferable for them to be a bit extra related so you will have some further postflop playability when referred to as. For instance, 65o is an efficient 3-bet bluffing hand. 74o, not a lot. In any case, Hellmuth 3-bets 74o for the second time in a ten minute span.

Koon’s name with JTo could be considerably borderline in idea, however towards an opponent utilizing a small 3-bet dimension with a spread that features lots of junk, it crosses the edge into “straightforward name” territory.

Flop motion: The flop comes J♦ 8♦ 6♣. Hellmuth checks. Koon checks again.

Hellmuth decides to not bluff on the flop regardless of choosing up a straight draw, which appears advantageous contemplating how nicely this flop connects with Koon’s vary. Koon’s hand may go both approach, however he opts to verify to maintain the pot small and permit Hellmuth to bluff turns and rivers.

Flip motion: The flip is the (J♦ 8♦ 6♣) T♣. Hellmuth bets 62,000. Koon calls.

Hellmuth picks up a double gutshot straight draw and goes for a really large wager, 62,000 right into a 72,000 chip pot. The dimensions could be bigger-than-ideal, however he has a terrific hand with which to wager.

Koon is clearly not going anyplace with prime two pair. He may elevate to get worth and deny fairness, however he opts to string Hellmuth together with a name.

River motion: The river is the (J♦ 8♦ 6♣ T♣) 7♦. Hellmuth checks. Koon checks.

It’s arduous to say what Hellmuth ought to do on this river as a result of, frankly, he ought to by no means attain this level with 74o. His measly pair of sevens is probably going by no means good, so he has to wager to win the pot. It’s robust to think about him having many worse fingers, which makes me lean in the direction of bluffing.

Hellmuth finally ends up waiving the white flag. As Koon is stacking his new chips, Hellmuth rips into Koon for taking part in too unfastened preflop.

hellmuth tilted

Hellmuth to himself: “C’mon Phil you bought him calling 40,000 with Jack-Ten offsuit. Simply fucking end this. It’s not arduous. You already see what’s gonna occur. You already see the writing on the wall, he’s gonna give it to you.”

This hand vaulted Koon to round 1.2 million chips, good for a 3-to-1 lead.

Hand #6: Hellmuth Snap Calls River

The blinds are 2,500/5,000 going into this one.

Preflop motion: Koon raises to 12,000 with 6♠ 5♣. Hellmuth calls with A♥ 8♦.

Customary stuff.

Flop motion: The flop is 7♣ 5♠ 4♠. Hellmuth checks. Koon bets 16,000. Hellmuth calls.

Hellmuth checks to the aggressor and Koon makes a great wager together with his center pair plus open-ender. Hellmuth has a straightforward name with Ace-high, two overcards, and a gutshot.

Flip motion: The flip is the (7♣ 5♠ 4♠) J♦. Each gamers verify.

Koon nonetheless has a powerful hand, however it’s not fairly sturdy sufficient to proceed betting for worth. He’s going to attempt to steer this to showdown except he improves on the river.

River motion: The river is the (7♣ 5♠ 4♠ J♦) 8♣. Hellmuth checks. Koon bets 56,000. Hellmuth shortly calls.

Unlucky river for Hellmuth. He may wager for worth together with his rivered second pair, which is able to usually be the very best hand. However checking to induce bluffs from Koon is an efficient play as nicely.

Koon goes for a giant wager (pot-sized) which is sensible since he’s representing a really sturdy vary of worth bets (two pair or higher, principally straights).

Even versus the large wager, Hellmuth has to name with a hand this sturdy towards a participant who’s greater than able to bluffing.

After this hand, Hellmuth’s stack is right down to about tree fiddy (350,000).

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Hand #7: Formidable Bluff

Hellmuth appears to really feel like he’s on the ropes going into this hand, however he’s nonetheless bought some room to maneuver with a 35 large blind stack.

Preflop motion: Koon raises to 12,000 (blinds 3,000/6,000) with A♥ 5♠. Hellmuth calls with 9♦ 8♥.

Customary play by each.

Flop motion: The flop is Q♣ 5♣ 5♥. Hellmuth checks. Koon bets 6,000. Hellmuth calls.

Koon has a wide range benefit on this tough-to-connect-with flop, and he properly leverages that benefit with a small wager. He has journeys on this occasion, however Koon would make an identical wager with most, if not all fingers in his vary.

Hellmuth’s name with 9-high could be very unfastened. He clearly has devious plans for future streets.

Flip motion: The flip is the (Q♣ 5♣ 5♥) 6♣. Hellmuth checks. Koon bets 25,000. Hellmuth raises to 60,000. Koon calls.

The flip brings a attainable flush, however Koon’s hand continues to be value betting to extract worth from attracts and worse made fingers.

Hellmuth’s elevate together with his turned gutshot is bold. His hand merely doesn’t have sufficient happening to make this play worthwhile. If he had a single membership, this might be affordable.

Koon can’t go anyplace when he’s holding journeys with the nut kicker.

River motion: The river is the (Q♣ 5♣ 5♥ 6♣) 3♥. Hellmuth checks. Koon bets 40,000. Hellmuth folds.

Hellmuth decides to wave the white flag and Koon makes an excellent sharp play by betting small. Hellmuth had lower than a pot-sized wager behind, right here, however Koon appropriately acknowledged that Hellmuth’s vary is mega weak (most likely a weak pair at greatest) after he performs the hand this manner. In opposition to such a weak vary, a small wager is greatest to place Hellmuth’s weak vary in a tricky spot.

Hand #8: Hellmuth Hero Calls King-Excessive

Hellmuth’s stack is 190,000 going into this hand with the blinds at 3,000/6,000.

Preflop motion: Hellmuth limps with Ok♥ 2♥. Koon raises to 24,000 with 6♦ 4♦. Hellmuth calls.

Effectively performed by each gamers preflop. Hellmuth has the right hand to limp and name a elevate. Koon has a terrific hand to boost over a limp (you possibly can consider it as a type of preflop semi-bluff).

Flop motion: The flop is J♥ J♦ J♣. Koon bets 30,000. Hellmuth calls.

Koon continues representing a powerful hand with a comparatively large wager (so far as flop bets go). Hellmuth, figuring out Koon can have some low fingers, makes a great name with King-high.It’s robust to have a lot better on a board with three jacks!

Flip motion: The flip is the (J♥ J♦ J♣) Q♣. Each gamers verify.

Koon slows down on the Queen, which is an efficient card for Hellmuth’s vary. Hellmuth checks, hoping to steer this hand to showdown.

River motion: The river is the (J♥ J♦ J♣ Q♣) 4♠. Koon bets 36,000. Hellmuth shortly calls.

Brutal river for Hellmuth. Koon goes for a small wager to extract worth from King-high and Ace-high fingers, and Hellmuth obliges by paying him off.

After seeing the unhealthy information, Hellmuth erupts out of his seat and will get some steps in.

hellmuth taking steps

He took 27 steps (I counted).

The Remaining Hand: Hellmuth Picks Up Huge Slick

Hellmuth begins this hand with 103,000 chips (to Koon’s 1.5 million). The blinds are 3,000/6,000.

Preflop motion: Koon raises to 12,000 with Q♣ 8♦. Hellmuth 3-bets to 35,000 with A♦ Ok♣. Koon places Hellmuth all-in for 103,000 whole. Hellmuth calls.

Koon’s all-in right here could be very non-standard. So, non-standard, in reality, that I made a decision to show to Twitter to get ideas from different folks as to why he determined to stay it in with Q8o.

I feel poker professional Amit Makhija’s reply makes essentially the most sense.

Thinks Helmuth will jam most of his good fingers, and can random bluff many fingers for smaller sizes as we’ve seen in previous matches, and has too many random fingers to make up for the few small dimension monsters. I feel he anticipated fingers like AKo to be in jam.

— Amit Makhija (@amak316) December 8, 2022

To construct on Makhija’s level, Hellmuth as soon as made a giant 3-bet in a event with Q4o and referred to as off versus a shove, so maybe that hand (and ones prefer it) had been sticking in Koon’s thoughts when he made this shove.

Anyway, let’s run out the board.

Board runout: Q♠ T♣ 4♠ T♦ 3♠

Koon drags within the final of Hellmuth’s chips and wins the match.

koon hellmuth handshake

What Do You Assume About Hellmuth’s Play in This Match? What About Koon’s?

Let me know within the feedback under.

I watched lots of the fingers from Hellmuth’s previous Excessive Stakes Duels, and he all the time appeared to bob and weave on the proper instances. This was the primary time he appeared, dare I say, outclassed by his opponent.

Koon did run very nicely on this match, however because the fingers above present, he bought the very best of Hellmuth in numerous spots that had little to do with luck. I’d be stunned to see Hellmuth decide to rematch Koon, who’s now ready for a challenger within the subsequent match (which is able to boast a large $1.6 million buy-in).

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Author: Peter Garcia