Phil Hellmuth is shown Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, at the PokerGO studio. (Antonio Abrego/PokerGO)

Phil Hellmuth finishes 2nd to Tamon Nakamura at U.S. Poker Open

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Phil Hellmuth reached a record seven final tables at the 2021 World Series of Poker and added to his own record by winning his 16th WSOP bracelet.

The “Poker Brat” was at it again this week at the U.S. Poker Open at the PokerGO studio by the Aria.

Hellmuth reached his eighth high roller final table since October in a $15,000 buy-in 8-Game event. But he was taken down heads-up by Tamon Nakamura, who has won two tournaments and leads the series, which culminates in Monday’s $50,000 No-limit Hold’em event.

Nakamura, a Japanese mixed-game specialist, won $239,700 for his 8-Game victory Tuesday and also won the $10,000 buy-in Big Bet Mix on Sunday for $169,600.

Before this year, Nakamura had a total of $372,317 in live tournament winnings. He has won $460,900 at the U.S. Poker Open alone, with four cashes.

Hellmuth, 57, made $155,100 for second. He has $26.7 million in career tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database.

Nakamura, who entered the day seventh in chips, eliminated Ben Yu in third place to set up a heads-up showdown with Hellmuth.

He quickly took the chip lead from Hellmuth, by a more than 2-1 margin, after winning back-to-back razz hands at the 200,000-400,000 level.

When the game switched to limit hold’em, Nakamura dominated. He sent Hellmuth under 600,000 when he flopped a pair of aces against Hellmuth’s flopped pair of sevens.

The final hand saw Nakamura open the button with ace-three of clubs, and Hellmuth three-bet all-in with king-seven. Nakamura called, and his ace-high stood up to complete his rise from worst to first and send Hellmuth home in second.

Nakamura leads the race for the 2022 U.S. Poker Open Golden Eagle Trophy and $50,000 championship bonus. He has 462 points, more than 100 points ahead of Alex Foxen (356).

Play resumes Friday with the $25,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at [email protected]. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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