Phil Hellmuth Outplays Tom Dwan In PokerGO High Stakes Duel III Round 3

Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan

In this hand, we will see if Phil Hellmut can withstand the heat from his heads-up nemesis tom dwan. This hand took place during PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel III Round 3 between Dwan and Hellmuth, which Hellmuth was victorious in.

Hellmuth currently has a 9-1 record on his heads-up heater after taking down Scott Seiver in Round 4 of High Stakes Duel III that had each player putting up $400,000. Dwan was supposed to play but backed out ahead of the rematch, as PokerNews reported here.

With blinds at 300/600, Hellmuth (193,000) on the button opted to limp in holding {10 Hearts}{10-Diamonds}. Dwan (205,800) went ahead and checked his option from the big blind.

This is the reason you don’t want to limp a hand like pocket tens: it allows your opponent to check whatever they have, see a flop and go from there. And unless your opponent is insane, you are not going to be able to get a limp reraise in all that often.

The flop landed {j clubs}{3 clubs}{9-Hearts} and Dwan checked. Hellmuth bet 600, which seems like a good move, and Dwan then check-raised to 2,500. It’s always frustrating when you have pocket tens on this board because there are very few good turn cards.

You would much rather have a hand like {9-}{8th-} in this scenario because you would have five outs to make two pair or trips, whereas with pocket tens you only have two outs to make a set.

Hellmuth vs Dwan
Hellmuth vs Dwan on High Stakes Duel III

The question becomes: how aggressively is Dwan check-raising? Do you think Dwan will only check-raise with a jack or better? If he’s that nitty, then you can just fold. That said, almost no one is that tight in heads-up no-limit Texas Hold’em. This is a spot where Dwan is going to have a lot of jacks, but also a lot of draws.

Because of this, I think this is a spot where continuing with a call is mandatory, although it is admittedly not a great spot. Hellmuth did indeed call.

The turn brought the {q spades} and Dwan fired a bet of 5,200. At this point, I have to assume Dwan is pretty polarized to something like a queen and better (he could certainly have a hand like {k-}{q-} or {k-}{10-}) or a draw, and the draw that makes the most sense is the club flush draw.

However, Hellmuth now was an open-ended straight draw, and with a hand that strong he cannot really fold, especially since he beats many of Dwan’s draws.

Hellmuth did call, which I think is the best move. If Hellmuth had raised to price out Dwan’s draws, he would be in bad shape against Dwan’s continuing range. So there’s no point in raising in this spot.

The river brought in the flush with the {6 clubs} and Dwan unloaded the clip with a half-pot-sized bet of 8,700.

What would you do in Hellmuth’s situation?

Your Stack (BTN): 185,300
Their stack (BB): 198,100
Pot: 16,600

  • fold
  • calls
  • Raise to 20,000 (small)
  • Raise to 185,300 (all in)

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This is a tough spot because Dwan bet small, which makes me think his range is weighted toward marginal-made hands like two pair and better or a queen. Could we ever bluff him? I don’t think we want to even try, because Dwan will have some flushes in his range that he’s just not folding to a raise.

Since we shouldn’t raise, the question becomes whether we should call or fold in this scenario. And I think it’s just an annoying spot where you have to fold. I think you’ll be shown a queen a lot or maybe a hand like {k-}{j-} that is going for thin value, which will often be the case with this bet size. And Dwan probably isn’t value-betting a hand you beat like nines this way, so take your tens and throw them away.

Hellmuth did find the fold, which was the correct play as Dwan held {k clubs}{4 clubs} for the rivered flush.

Looking back through the hand, Hellmuth played near perfectly. He called on the streets where he was ahead and folded when Dwan got there on the river. Of course, had he known Dwan had exactly a flush draw, he could have raised on the flop to deny Dwan equity.

For more on this hand check out my breakdown in the following video:

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $7,000,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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*Lead image courtesy of PokerGO.


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