On Tuesday night, the first rounds of the $50,000 buy-in “King of the Hill” event concluded and Phill Hellmuth accomplished what many had thought to be an exceedingly difficult task in handing defeat to rising star and heads-up specialist Doug Polk. While on the other side of the spectrum, Hellmuth’s opponent-to-be Dan “Jungleman” Cates achieved a swift knockout win in his semi-final matchup against Frank Kassela.
Cates and Kassela kicked off their 3.30pm ET heads-up with a bang, pushing chips right from the get-go when the high stakes real money card player Jungleman took an early 2-1 chip advantage in the very first “King of The Hill” with a full house over Kassela’s two pair. Another 4 rounds later, the semi final had already been decided in a mere fourteen minutes. On the fifth and final hand, the three-time WSOP bracelet winner Kassela left his fate in the hands of yet another two pair, as he went all in with his Kc,Jh on a Js, 3h, Kd, Qs board. As in the very first hand, Lady Luck was not on Kassela’s side as he missed out on a full house while Cates turned over his As,10c for the broadway straight and sent Kassela packing.
A stunned Kassela said “I didn’t even get to use my reveal,” referring to the two plaques that each player are entitled to use at any time to see the opponent’s cards. He then turned towards the audience and added, “Sorry. That would have been fun if it had lasted a little longer.”
The most anticipated match-up of the evening was undoubtedly the 8pm heads-up between fourteen-time World Series of Poker champion and No Limit Hold’em guru, Doug Polk. Unlike the 100m sprint of the first main event, this was destined to be a marathon and both players were ready to go the full distance.
Polk, the new generation of poker has long criticized “old” pros, such as Hellmuth, for their style of play, and this was the perfect opportunity to put his money where his mouth is. With less to prove but more to teach, the older timer was going to show the young-gun why it was that he is the record holder for the most WSOP bracelets.
The match had remained pretty much even sided until around 45 mins into the heads-up. The blinds were set at $250/500, Polk was on the button with Qh, 9d and Helmuth checked with Ac, 4c on a flop of 3s, Jc,10c. Polk then made a 1,000 bet which was promptly called by Hellmuth.
Both players checked on the 2c that came on the turn. Helmuth continued to check for the 3rd time in the hand when the 8s fell on the river, but Polk bet 3,100 to which the poker brat check-raised to 14,100. Polk, now at a disadvantage, took a few moment before making the call, that then gave a nearly 2:1 chip lead to Hellmuth.
The two continued to battle back and forth, with Polk making it back to nearly even at one point before yet another big pot, which cost the majority of his remaining stack when he flopped top two pair on a 8d, 6s, 2h board against his opponent’s 7h,4h.
Both players checked, then a 10h landed on the turn, giving Helmuth both a flush and straight draws. Helmuth bet 800 and got check-raised to 3,500 by Polk to which Helmuth called.
The 9d river completed Hellmuth’s straight and forced Polk to check given the four-card straight on the board. Without any hesitation, the old-timer decided to put the brazen youngin to the test, betting 11,000, amounting to more than two-thirds of Polk’s remaining stack. Stuck in a difficult position once again, Polk decided to flip a coin to decide his next move, which resulted in him making the call.
Polk lost the remainder of his chips on the very next and last hand, and Hellmuth took to the post-match interview to let everyone know that he may not be young anymore, but he is still someone to be reckoned with.