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Phil Hellmuth rides big bluff to victory in ‘High Stakes Duel’

Well-timed bluffs have been instrumental to Phil Hellmuth’s success on “High Stakes Duel.”

He was able to get another big bluff through in a key spot en route to his latest heads-up victory.

Hellmuth turned the tide against poker pro Scott Seiver with a bold river bet and went on to win the $800,000 “High Stakes Duel III” Round 4 No-limit Hold’em match that aired Tuesday on subscription video service PokerGO.

“If he calls, I probably lose the match,” Hellmuth said. “A lot of these matches I’ve played, I’ve put it on the line with a bluff. A big bluff. … So far, my timing has been exceptional with the bluffs, and they’ve folded some very strong hands.”

Hellmuth improved to 9-1 in the “High Stakes Duel” format and has profited $1.25 million from the matches. He must face Seiver or a new challenger in Round 5 with each player buying in for $800,000, according to the rules set by PokerGO.

Seiver, 37, said before facing Hellmuth he expects to accept the rematch if he lost.

The Round 4 match was the longest on “High Stakes Duel,” lasting 333 hands and nearly six hours, as the chip lead flipped back and forth.

Seiver, who has more than $24 million live career earnings and ranks in the top 25 on the all-time money list, promised trash talk throughout and needled the “Poker Brat” with plenty of speech-play.

But it hardly seemed to faze Hellmuth, whose previous “High Stakes Duel” matches have featured some heated clashes at the table.

“He’s one of the greatest players in the world and also one of the best of his generation,” Hellmuth said of Seiver. “He has so much class and handles himself so well. And that’s nice. Some of the guys have been mean to me, some have lied to me, some have been brutal to me. Sure, I get my digs in, too, but Scott handled himself well.”

Seiver held the chip lead for the majority of the first half of the $400,000 buy-in match and extended his advantage at the beginning of the third hour before Hellmuth began to turn the tables.

But Seiver survived an all-in bet when his pocket queens held up against Hellmuth’s pocket jacks and had an approximately 2.5-to-1 chip advantage midway through the fourth hour when the most important hand of the match occurred.

Hellmuth bravely check-raised the river holding nothing but air and forced Seiver to fold. Had Seiver found a call with his pair of eights, Hellmuth would have been left with 10 percent of the 800,000 chips in play.

“I don’t bluff very often, so when I’m finally putting in big money, I usually have it. I’m also aware that they think I usually have it,” Hellmuth said. “But I put it on the line in that hand, and he almost called. If he does call, he wins the match.”

Hellmuth was energized by the big pot and started to lean on Seiver to take a 2-to-1 chip lead by the start of the fifth hour.

Seiver, who looked deflated for the final hour of the match, survived one all-in, but wasn’t able to double-up again.

The match ended when Seiver flopped top-pair and moved in all his chips against Hellmuth’s two-pair but was unable to improve.

“There have been times when I have been lucky in some of these matches, for sure, but I always seem to have the best hand in these massive pots,” Hellmuth said. “There is something I’m doing that they don’t understand, and that I really don’t want to talk about.”

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Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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