*Story by PokerTelegraph.com
Mike “The Mouth” Matusow made history last night by defeating what many consider to be the best NL Hold’em tournament player in the world, Phil Hellmuth. The best-of-3 headsup action began very quickly, seeing what many consider the best match in TV poker history..
After Phil started out with relentless aggression, chipping away at Mike pot after pot, Mike was able to get back to even in just two hands.
Mike then turned to the announcer and said “See, that’s how I play poker, he wins 15 pots, I win 2, and we’re even. That’s just how I play.”
Speaking of “just how he plays. The pot was raised, then reraised preflop. Hellmuth made the call and they went to a flop.
The flop brought 6h Jc 8c. Phil led at the pot and Mike called.
A 6s came on the turn and Phil led at the pot again. This time again, Mike called.
On the river a Kd fell and Phil announced all in. Mike didn’t just snap call, he fumbled over himself physically to make the call and show that he had turned quad 6’s! He then turned to the rail to celebrate with a patented and gratuitous F-Bomb YEAH!
After that hand, Phil was crippled to less than 100,000 in chips, but a series of all-in calls with Phil doubling up meant that he drew himself closer to even. Then he managed to run his chips up a bit until he got it all in against Mike when Mike held AJ to Phil’s A3. The flop brought 10x 3x 3x and the turn brought another 10 giving Phil a full house to double through Mike to about 600,000.
Discussing the match between Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth and Michael Mizrachi, they laughed and said “The three bet means something, we usually have it, we’re the older generation”.
Just after that exchange Mike moved all in and got called by Phil. Guess what? They both had hands. In this case, Phil held pocket 5’s while Mike had Ac Qd.
An Ace came on the flop, so Matusow had to sweat a 5 on the turn and the river. The board blanked out and Mike won the first match.
Back to square one. Both players will be starting again with the same number of chips and begin with the same blinds as before. But this time, Mike is strutting a little taller and chirping a little more. Mike is definitely controlling the table talk heading into the second match.
Matusow spent much of the early part of the second match chiding Phil and needling him mercilessly. Did he get a reaction? Well, we hadn’t seen a full blown Hellmuth blow up yet as the match labored on, but the fuse has most definitely been lit. Phil, when he gets ready to blow, starts to get testy, then he strugs it off with a chuckle, then he gets testy and flips his cards away dejectedly, then he smiles and laughs. It’s that emotional roller coaster you can see Phil on and all it takes is one hand to set the whole thing off.
Mike Matusow and Phil Helmuth
One way to defuse the situation is for Phil Hellmuth to win a match, and that’s just what he did.
The first hand saw Matusow holding Pocket Kings to Helmuth’s AxKx. The flop blanked and it looked like Matusow would take both the match and the title. Matusow began to celebrate, but it was a bit premature as an Ace fell on the turn giving Phil the best hand. The river blanked and Phil took the lead.
A few hands later they collided again, this time with Phil holding both pocket 10’s and the chiplead while Matusow held pocket 2’s. The board blanked out and, as the announcer put it, “We’re going the distance.”
And we are coming back to match three in the best of three final. This one is for all the marbles. Win here and win it all.
Matusow obviously spent the break going over strategy with his people because he has returned to the table and has just been utterly relentless in his aggression.
It has been so much that within 10 minutes of returning to play Mike held a 1.14 Million to 460,000 advantage over Phil.
If you watch the broadcast and they show it, you can see Phil squirming in his chair in discomfort. This is unusual for Phil to lose his composure and not blow up. But leave it to Mike Matusow to see this and take advantage of it with the verbal jousting. Mike’s been landing barbs all night.
The Moment Phil Caught The Miracle Ace To Stay Alive
The last hand of the night may have been the most tense hand of the tournament. This hand took a good 10 minutes to play out and no amount of editing that is done will do it justice save for just running the hand in real time.
Mike raised the hand and Phil called.
The flop brought Kd Js 2d. Hellmuth checked and Mike continuation bet on the flop. Phil quickly called. The turn brought a 6s. Phil snap checked and Mike deliberately bet at the pot again, this time 105,000, which, with Phil’s stack, sent the signal “I’m committed to this hand, Phil. All in or fold, those are your only two options.”
Phil then went into what became the longest tank of the entire tournament for any player. Phil knew that he could not simply call the bet. He had two options, go all in or fold. You could see Phil waffling back and forth between fold and shove. He stood up, he sat down. He stood up again. Phil was obviously perplexed with the way the hand played out. This went on for about 8 minutes. Back and forth.
Phil Can’t Stop Thinking About What Might Have Been
Finally, Phil announced he was all-in and the crowd surrounded the table. Only one problem. Mike had not announced call yet. It was at this point that Phil leapt out of his chair, clapped his hands together and said “He didn’t snap call! He didn’t snap!” Phil then excitedly bounded back to his wife knowing that he made the right decision, which, to his credit, he had.
As the crowd literally breathed down Mike’s neck, he had a decision to make. He knew Phil had him beat at this time, but he had a decent hand and could knock Phil out if he made it.
Finally, after a good 2 minutes, Mike finally made the call.
Phil had Ks 10h for top pair while Mike held 8d 4d for a flush draw.
The announcer then called for the river, and when the Qd hit the felt, the place erupted in pandemonium.
That was it, Mike had become the 2013 NBC National Heads Up Poker Champion.
Phil would later have nothing but the kindest of words for Mike, who had become very good friends over the years. They both hold a ton of respect for one another and it clearly showed.
But after the cameras shut off, and the lights dimmed, there was Phil, still standing, staring at the board. While he had a smile for the camera, anyone in the room that saw could see him simply silently still, contemplative, staring at the board and what could have been.
*Story by PokerTelegraph.com