Jason Koon Defeats Phil Hellmuth in $1.6 Million Heads-Up Match


The largest prize pool ever on the High Stakes Duel went to the West Virginia native poker pro.


Scott Seiver Drops Out, Jason Koon Steps Up

This game was announced way back in August. Originally, it was supposed to be a rematch between Phil Hellmuth and Scott Seiver. In May, right before the World Series, 16-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Hellmuth defeated Seiver in a $400,000 buy-in heads-up Sit&Go. While poker fans were anticipating a rematch between the two poker greats for double the stakes (as per tradition on PokerGO’s high stakes duel), Seiver unexpectedly dropped out. Remember, this duel originally started with Tom Dwan as the challenger, who bowed out after a win and a loss.

Thankfully, Hellmuth managed to find a formidable opponent for himself in Jason Koon. He has more money than Hellmuth in live tournament earnings ($40.3 million to $28.5 million), although he’s trailing him in WSOP bracelets (evidently, since Hellmuth has the all-time record, 16, Koon has only won one so far). 

As Ali Nejad pointed out in the warm-up interview, the two have quite different characters at the poker table. Hellmuth is known for his entertaining and disrespectful outbursts (hence his nickname, The Poker Brat), while Koon is always as cool as a cucumber when he’s playing cards. However, even if he doesn’t condone it, Koon understands why Hellmuth keeps engaging in this type of behavior. First, it’s entertaining, and then he can capitalize off of that attention. And two, he can have a cathartic moment to relieve all the tension after an unlucky hand. As Koon put it, he has to carry all that angst home with him…

Koon Runs Good, Dominates Hellmuth in Heads-Up Match

The first pot of considerable size in the evening happened around 15 minutes into it, and it set the tone for the whole match. Hellmuth was dealt A10 off, while Koon got A9 off - as the “Poker Brat” would surely point out, he was the clear favorite going into the flop. However, that flop brought a 9 (with two 3’s), moving Koon into the lead. It held until the river, and Koon got one street of value from his opponent, plus his pre-flop raise.

Trouble only compounded for Hellmuth when he tried to get tricky with Q6 off-suit with a 5-bet pre-flop - but that bluff ran into Koon’s pocket Aces. This dropped Hellmuth down to a 2:1 chip deficit. We’ve seen him climb out of bigger holes, just think of his first heads-up game against Negreanu, where he was down 19:1… The “White Magic” did not work this time, though. 

Koon wrapped up the game after another lucky draw for him. He moved all-in for Hellmuth’s last 103,000 with 4-bet, holding Q8 off-suit. Not exactly a premium hand, especially considering that old Phil Hellmuth snap-called with AK off. But it wasn’t meant to be for him this night in Vegas, he got outdrawn by a flopped Queen for Koon, who then dodged all the Aces and Kings in the deck. Thus, Jason Koon got to claim the largest prize pool ever in the history of PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel. He won a hefty $1.6 million. Meanwhile, Hellmuth’s record in the format dropped down to (a still impressive) 9-2. Only Tom Dwan managed to beat him before Koon. 

However, due to the rules of the game, the winner cannot cash out just yet. He has to win a rematch against Hellmuth, or whoever is willing to take Hellmuth’s place in the $1.6 million (!) buy-in match. Either way, more exciting heads-up action is guaranteed.

Watch the First Hour of the Hellmuth vs. Koon Heads-Up Duel Below

Stay tuned on our Telegram channel for more EV+ news.

Related posts