Phil Hellmuth’s next opponent on High Stakes Duel is not going to be Tom Dwan as many expected. The Poker Brat will instead take on someone from the world of sports, Nick Wright. The Fox Sports television host announced on Twitter that his heads-up battle with Hellmuth will commence on July 28, at the PokerGO studios at Aria in Las Vegas.
Poker Pro versus TV Host
Wright also appeared on the most recent episode of PokerGO’s YouTube podcast No Gamble, No Future, hosted by Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks. The same show previously dropped Dwan’s name as Hellmuth’s third opponent, only to backtrack later and confirm it’s going to be Wright who will face Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel III. This obviously left a lot of poker fans disappointed, with some labeling the upcoming match as a “joke”.
Criticis aside, Wright seems to be a natural opponent for Hellmuth as both have the same strong, opinionated personality. It would be entertaining to see them face each other at the table, though Wright will definitely be the underdog in the match, considering that he’s only an amateur player.
Wright is a poker enthusiast but he has no relevant experience in playing major poker games. He himself admitted during his recent appearance on No Gamble, No Future that Hellmuth will have “nothing” to study about his skills and style as he essentially hasn’t played in any big games or tournaments in the past.
There are generally no videos or footage of Wright playing an actual game available for Phil Hellmuth to watch to get an idea of his playing style and strategy. This, according to Wright, gives him an edge “from a study advantage”, as he said he will focus on watching Hellmuth’s games in preparation for the upcoming battle.
Wright’s Sports Broadcasting Career
Poker fans won’t be impressed with Wright’s skills at the tables, but his sports broadcasting background cannot be ignored.
The 36-year-old has been in the industry for over a decade. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He became a popular sports personality during his early years working as a host in multiple radio stations in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, as well as in Houston.
His career earned a boost in 2016 when he joined Fox Sports. He now co-hosts the popular sports TV show First Things First, with Jenna Wolfe, Kevin Wildes, and Brandon Marshall. The show premiered in September 2017.
Apart from his successful sports broadcasting career, Wright will be remembered as one of NBA star Lebron James’ die-hard supporters.
Don’t Underestimate Wright
Hellmuth will definitely be a strong favorite to win the match, but Wright said he won’t make it easy for The Poker Brat. He said he’s in it not just for fun, but because he wants to win. He also does not intend to spend a lot of time studying poker strategy books or learning about solvers, like what Daniel Negreanu did; the plan is to focus on Hellmuth’s game.
Hellmuth won all of his previous matches on High Stakes Duel. He won three straight rounds against Antonio Esfandiari for $400,000. He was able to replicate that victory against his recent battle with Daniel Negreanu where he also scored a sweep for $350,000. He could have opted to extend the match to Round 4, but the Poker Brat had the choice to refuse another rematch, and that’s what he did.
Round 1 of Hellmuth vs Wright will take place on July 28 at the PokerGO studios at Aria in Vegas, with both players putting in an initial buy-in of $50K. Should the loser call for a rematch, he would need to shell out $100K in additional money, or double the initial buy-in. The match could extend to Round 3 if the losing player refuses to give up. He would again put up $200K to make it happen.
Most of us expect Hellmuth to pull off an easy win against Wright but you never know!

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