Jason Koon Wins High Stakes Duel III Round 5 For $1.6 Million

By Ian John
December 8, 2022

The long-delayed and much anticipated High Stakes Duel match up between Jason Koon and Phil Hellmuth saw Koon take full advantage of a hot streak, as well as some stellar play, to defeat the Poker Brat and retain his interest in the tournament.

Hellmuth, who is now 9-2 on PokerGO’s heads up series, now has the option to buy back in to face Koon once again in the next match in the series, or to let someone else face off against the current incumbent to the prize.

Koon stepped in to face Hellmuth when a proposed rematch with Scott Seiver, who Hellmuth had beat in Round 4 to take the pot to $800,000, fell through back in August when Seiver pulled out due to personal reasons.

However, it took until December 7th for the two players to finally sit down face to face at the table with a pot of $1,600,000 to be contested, $800,000 of which was staked by Koon.

That said, it wasn’t a particularly long contest as the game concluded in under three hours with Koons very much dominating Hellmuth, who was not at his best in the contest but who also found the cards run cold on him throughout the game.

Hellmuth Wins A Couple Of Early Hands

As is his modus operandi in these high stakes heads up games, Hellmuth began the contest by being openly aggressive. With both players holding 800,000 chips and the blinds opening at 1,000/2,000, Hellmuth’s aggression saw him win a couple of hands early on the contests with bluffs.

Hellmuth also picked up some smaller pots when landing a straight, but his aggressive play eventually got the better of him when he decided to five-bet preflop to 260,000, just over a quarter of his stack, while holding Queen and Six.

Koon’s though held a pair of aces and unsurprisingly, he shoved to go all in, which forced Hellmuth to fold.

This was the moment that the game really turned in Koon’s favour as he now held an almost 2/1 chip advantage over Hellmuth and the future Hall of Famer is not the kind of player to turn down an opportunity to turn the screw on his opponent when he is in a position to bully him.

Yet, it didn’t seem to be the case as just a couple of hands later, Hellmuth got himself right back into contention when he landed a flush on the river,  giving him the nuts and earning him a 270,000 chip pot, to seemingly level the playing field again.

Those early exchanges seemed to hint at a very even contest lying ahead, but just after an hour of action, Koon began to dominate the match.

Jason Koon WSOP bracelet
Jason Koon

Cards Run Hot For Koons

Barely an hour into the game and Koons once again turned over his cards to reveal pocket aces for the second time. It was the start of a run of premium hands for Koons who hit several premium hands over the course of the game.

In contrast, Hellmuth could not find a decent quality hand while Koons was landing these cards and in the end, Hellmuth was forced to try and be aggressive to win pots at the right time.

And that is where his plan unravelled somewhat.

Hellmuth is known for being able to time his aggressive plays to perfection, especially when going Heads Up where timing when to be aggressive, even if you don’t hold the best cards, can be such a successful tactic.

That wasn’t the case in this game against Koon.

Phil Hellmuth 16th bracelet
Phil Hellmuth

Hellmuth’s Mistimed Aggression

The run of hands where Hellmuth’s aggression proved to be his undoing began when he three-bet to $32,000 holding a 7 and 4 offsuit into Koon’s queen and jack offsuit. After the rainbow flop of 8 clubs, jack of diamonds and 10 of spades, Koon had top pair and Hellmuth was hoping to land a nine, thinking his straight would have been good.

Even though in this case, with Koon holding the Queen, it would not have been.

When the Queen came on the turn, Hellmuth again was aggressive, but now Koon held top two pair and after a 5 on the River, Koon took a 92,000 pot to once again forge into the lead.

Hellmuth’s luck appeared to change shortly after when he three-bet holding Queen Jack, but he again found luck not on his side as Koon held Ace Queen suited and with both players heavily committed to the pot, Hellmuth tried a bluff, which Koon called to land another huge win.

Another loss shortly after saw Hellmuth chip stack down to 300,000, with Koon now holding 1,300,000.

Koon Shows His Class With Bluff And Lands The Win

If Hellmuth’s timing for his aggression was off, then his opponent was finding the sweet spot each time and no better example of this was when Koon held pocket deuces on a board of Queen, 9, 10, 6 and 7.

Hellmuth had a pair of sevens and was leading the hand, but Koon played the hand aggressively, betting 60,000 and representing a much stronger hand. Hellmuth, stung from what had happened previously, folded his pair of 7s allowing Koons to pocket a 160,000 chip pot.

With his stack now down to under 50 big blinds, Hellmuth was in desperate trouble and while he kept picking up smaller value hands, the progress gained in those small victories would be lost in a bigger value hand that was won by Koon.

Indeed, at one point, we finally saw the Poker Brat in full tilt mode when his King 2 hand went up against Koon’s 6 and 4 on a board that had seen three jacks land on the flop. However, when the turn came down, Koon paired his four with the one on the board and he bet 36,000 as a result. Hellmuth called feeling his King High was good and he blew a fuse when it wasn’t.

“Come on, what the f**k?” Hellmuth cried

“How many cards are you going to get? He tried to bluff it off and double me up just like I knew he would,” bemoaned Hellmuth.

Not long after Koon paired his Queen 8 with a Queen on a Q, 10, 4, 10, 3 board to beat Hellmuth’s Ace King to claim the victory and with it retain a chance of landing the prize.

What Happens Now In High Stakes Duel III – Round VI?

With Koon now the official holder of the High Stakes Duel he has taken his first step to the three victories he needs to be able to cash out the prize.

Hellmuth now has the option to buy back in for a rematch for $1,600,000, or to let another player come in and challenge Koon in the second game in his run.

The Poker Brat would have been able to cash out his prize had he beaten Koons and he would have turned a $250,000 total buy in into a $1,600,000 prize.

Now though, he has to ante up $1.6m to remain in the game, plus he now has to win three games in a row to be able to cash out (the last of which would be worth a huge $12.8m).

If Hellmuth does drop out then the likes of Dan Smith or Wiktor Malinowski have been mentioned as possible opponents for Koon’s second game in what he hopes will be a lucrative series.

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