Things are never dull when it involves Antonio Esfandiari or Phil Hellmuth but when both are featured in the same lineup, fireworks are guaranteed. During the Season Finale of Friday Night Poker on Stadium’s Facebook Watch platform, Hellmuth and Esfandiari went at it, and with some encouragement from Daniel Negreanu, talk of a heads-up battle heated up. The question remains though, will this ever happen?
Setting the scene for this banter was a Pot Limit Omaha coin flip during Friday Night Poker, as Antonio Esfandiari collected the proceeds of this fun bit of gambling but not without some needling. Esfandiari was the “mystery guest” on this Friday Night Poker session, and this flip happened right around an hour after he first sat down. ‘The Magician’ joked about pulling off a hit-and-run, collecting his small profit and leaving the game.
“You can hit and run,” Maria Ho joked with Esfandiari, after which he made clear that he was far more interested in taking all of Phil Hellmuth’s money.
“I can’t leave right now, Phil has $6,000 in front of him,” Esfandiari laughed.
Hellmuth chirped back, as was to be expected, and with Negreanu constantly egging on both players, things got a little heated. Hellmuth told a story on how he declined to play a random poker fan at 02:00 in the morning for $20,000 because he was feeling sleeping, apparently indicative that this for him wouldn’t be about the money, but about proving a point.
Interuppting Hellmuth’s monologue, Antonio, “What does that have to do with me? I’m not some random guy in the casino. You said you were going to smoke me, which means that I’m ready to give you my money, which means that you should take it.”
“I’d smoke you heads up,” Hellmuth said.
“If you smoked me heads up, why wouldn’t you play me?” Esfandiari quickly responded, “If you think you’re going to smoke me, why won’t you play me?”
Esfandiari added more fuel to the fire by emphasizing how much fun it would be for Hellmuth to beat him, all while having a great time. In true Hellmuth fashion, he then called back to the time the two faced off on the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, nearly 13 years ago. For your information, we ran the numbers and found out that Hellmuth does indeed have a better track record in this turbo format Sit & Gos.
|Hellmuth and Esfandiari in the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship|
|Year||Eliminated in/by||Phil Hellmuth||Eliminated in/by||Antonio Esfandiari|
|2006||First Round||Chip Reese||First Round||Barry Shulman|
|2007||DNP||DNP||First Round||Tuan Le|
|2008||First Round||Tom Dwan||First Round||Vanessa Rousso|
|2009||Quarterfinals||Bertrand Grospellier||First Round||Kenny Tran|
|2010||Second Round||Annette Obrestad||First Round||Sammy Farha|
|2011||First Round||David Benyamine||Second Round||Jonathan Duhamel|
|2012||No event||No event||No event||No event|
|2013||Finals||Mike Matusow||Third Round||Dan Cates|
“Any time you want, let’s play $10,000 heads up!” Hellmuth finally laid out his idea of this challenge.
Esfandiari had no interest in playing these kinds of stakes, nor did he have an interest in the Sit & Go format.
“Let’s play real poker! I want to sit down with real money. Deep. I’ll pay you $10,000 if you play me heads up for 10 hours at $500/$1,000, but you got to buy-in deep.”
At this point of the night, the table talk has completely subsided as everyone involved was all ears. “Wow!!” Negreanu let out after Esfandiari countered Hellmuth.
“You’re paying for the privilege of playing against Phil Hellmuth,” Negreanu added.
Hellmuth, however, didn’t bite and kept his desire of playing Sit & Gos as a requirement. While the 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner increased the stakes to $50,000 and a slow structure with 300 big blinds to start, Esfandiari still had no interest.
“Phil, I will smoke you deep stacked! I don’t want to play mini tournaments, I want to play real poker,” Esfandiari held onto his preferences, but no actual heads-up battle was agreed upon during the show.
The action on Friday Night Poker, however, did kick up a couple of notches as Esfandiari added $110,000 to his stack while Hellmuth put another $30,000 in play. Esfandiari and Hellmuth didn’t get involved in a big clash in the PokerGO Studio just yet during that session but they did suggest that any heads-up battle they might agree upon would take place there as well.
So, Antonio and Phil, what will it be? Make it happen, the fans need to see this unfold!
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