Phil Hellmuth Wins Antonio Esfandiari in $400,000 High Stakes Duel

Phil Hellmuth completed his domination of pro player Antonio Esfandiari in what has quickly become a format for poker players to demonstrate their expertise. Hellmuth started with three straight matches, with a final match of $400,000, making Antonio Esfandiari, aka the magician, disappear.

These two big poker names battled in a series of heads-up matches for High Stakes Duel, an exclusive series on the PokerGO streaming service. The first showdown pitted 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet champion Phil Hellmuth against the all-time money leader at the WSOP, Antonio Esfandiari. The two legends have a total tournament revenue of over $50 million, making this an ultimate clash of titans.

The PokerGo High Stakes Series

The High Stakes Duel Series has a unique format in which a couple of players each post a $50,000 buy-in to play an initial $100,000 match. In each round, the loser can challenge the winner to double the stakes. The winner of round one cannot cash out his winnings unless he wins three matches in a row before the sixth round. If no player challenges a winner within 30 days of their previous match, the winner will be paid their total earnings.

Hellmuth and Esfandiari have been at it for months

Both players have been head-on against each other for round one of the series since early July, when Hellmuth came out on top against Esfandiari. Before the game even began, Esfandiari told host Nick Schulman that he would certainly challenge if he were to lose.

“100 percent. I’ll never leave him. No matter how much. No matter how high the stakes are, I’ll never leave him.” That was his statement, and true to his words, Esfandiari immediately challenged Hellmuth in September, where Hellmuth once again emerged victoriously. Esfandiari exercised his option to a challenge and set up a third clash with Hellmuth on October 21, with $400,000 on the line.

The Final Matchup

Esfandiari took the lead early on in the game, but Hellmuth took over with a flush over flush cooler. Hellmuth limped from the button with Jack-9 of diamonds, with his big blind checked by Esfandiari holding an 8-2 of diamonds. Both players were near flushe with the Queen of diamonds, Jack of spades, and a 4 of diamond on the flop. Hellmuth’s bet of 1,300 was check-raised to 4,300 by Esfandiari. Then Hellmuth put in a three-bet to 10,000, which Esfandiari called. The Ace of diamonds hit on the turn, leaving both players with a flush.

Esfandiari made a bet for 16,200, while Hellmuth decided to make a call with the second nuts. Esfandiari slashed a bet of 33,800, with the 10 of hearts on the end, which saw Hellmuth raising the stakes to 73,800. Esfandiari called it, only to see that he had run into a superior flush. The stack for Hellmuth grew to 297,000, while that of Esfandiari fell to 103,000.

Later, Esfandiari took a limp from the button with an Ace of spades and a 3 of diamonds for 3,000 in the final hand, which Hellmuth raised from the big blind to 13,000 with an Ace of diamond and a 10 of diamond. This saw Esfandiari moving all in for 129,000. Hellmuth called it, and an Ace of hearts, a King of spades, 9 of hearts, Jack of spades, and an 8 of hearts came out. Hellmuth’s kicker had him winning the pot and the entire game, to the sweet tune of $400,000.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.