WSOP Grudge Match: Phil Hellmuth vs. Johnny Chan

In a rehash of the fateful WSOP Main Event 1989 heads up match, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth faced each other on the felt in one of the three Grudge Matches to be held this year. Now, more than 20 years after the match that changed their fates, Chan finally gets a bit of vindication as he manages to win against Hellmuth.

Then and Now

Back in 1989, Chan was geared to take his third WSOP Main Event bracelet. His first win was in 1987, which he followed up with a win in 1988 against Erik Seidel. This made Chan the only person to be the reigning champ for more than a year. However, that 2-year streak could have become an infinitely more impressive 3-year streak, had Hellmuth not stopped him in 1989. It was a match that changed history; the 1989 bracelet was the first of Hellmuth’s record-breaking 11 bracelets. It was also Chan’s “one that got away”. However, with the WSOP Grudge Match, history was given a new twist, with Chan taking the chip lead very early on in the match. However, just as he was about to hit rock bottom, Hellmuth managed to double up. In fact, he managed to make such a comeback four times, successfully prolonging the fight. However, in the end, Hellmuth went all in with his KS10C. Chan called, holding pocket 8s. It was then that the winner of the grudge match was decided – and a grudge was settled. Chan received $25,000 as an appearance fee, while Hellmuth got $10,000.

There is no grudge, really.

Normally, you’d hate the guts of the guy who kept you from winning the World Series of Poker for three years straight. But there’s none of that between Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth. They’re actually very good friends, and there really isn’t any bad blood between them. In fact, right after the match, Hellmuth and Chan were giving each other a friendly hug. Both players expressed their enjoyment of the match – quite noticeable throughout the entire thing, as both players were joking with each other while playing the game. They’re very good friends, Chan and Hellmuth, and both were good sports about the grudge match. Chan said that it didn’t matter to him who won, as long as everyone was having a good time.

The next match will be Johnny Chan vs. Erik Seidel in a rehash of the 1988 match. Then, finally, there’s going to be a rematch between Chris Moneymaker and Sammy Farha.

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