Too poor? Too scared? Or just too wise to cross swords with one of poker’s modern-day contenders for GOAT? Whatever the reason, there have been no takers willing to put up $1.6million to face Jason Koon in round 6 of High Stakes Duel III.
PokerGO had given challengers one month to come up with the readies and a game plan to take on Koon after the West Virginia-born highstakes pro had seized Phil Hellmuth’s HSD crown late last year.
With no takers, Koon’s single victory in the SNG-style heads-up battle against the Poker Brat means he can take the $800,000 he won and retire as HSD III champion.
High Stakes Duel IThe mano-a-mano battles in the PokerGO studios have proved very popular since the very first match-up between Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari back in October of 2020.
With an initial buy-in of $50k each, doubling with each round, Hellmuth won that match 3-0 to pocket $350k from the Magician.
High Stakes Duel IINext up for Hellmuth was another old rival, Daniel Negreanu, and KidPoker fared no better against the Poker Brat’s ‘white magic’, losing 3-0 and yet another $350k payday for Big Phil.
High Stakes Duel IIIThe third edition of HSD wasn’t quite as straightforward as the first two, with Fox Sports host Nick Wright taking first shot at a 6 and 0 Hellmuth.
After losing a tough battle, Wright decided he couldn’t justify ponying up another $100k for the rematch, so that honour fell to Tom Dwan.
Dwan ended Hellmuth’s unbeaten streak but when he lost the rematch, and a scheduling conflict got in the way of a third bout, the hunt was on for a replacement.
Scott Seiver stepped into the breach and by this time the stakes were $400k per player. It also proved to be the longest and toughest battle of the 10 matches so far, but eventually Hellmuth prevailed.
Hellmuth had some kind words for Seiver afterwards: “Scott absolutely did not give it to me. He was just tough, and that’s what I was expecting. He’s one of the greatest players in the world and also one of the best of his generation.”
Seiver, however, didn’t fancy putting up $800,000 for a rematch, so that duty fell to Jason Koon, number 5 in the all-time tournament moneywinners list and a modern-day legend.
The GGPoker and Triton Poker ambassador employed what he called “a very Phil-specific strategy” and also ran hot for the entirety of the match, Hellmuth on the verge of losing the plot at one point...
Koon’s victory was almost inevitable and he stated afterwards: “I had great hands. Even the hands that I bluffed, almost all of them kind of presented themselves in a natural way, so it was just one of those days where almost anybody in my seat is going to win.”
And that brings us up-to-date with the High Stakes Duel series, nobody willing to put up $1.6million to battle Koon.
High Stakes Duel IV?What happens next is unclear, but High Stakes Duel IV should see the players back at $50k stakes for the first round, though whether Koon will play or not is not yet known.
There will likely be plenty of challengers at the $50k level, so let us know in our comments and social media who you want to see taking on Koon!