Hellmuth’s departure from UB was like a heavy gray cloud that was just waiting to burst. Everyone knew that it was bound to happen – it was in the little telltale signs; the UB badge forgone, a long and outstretched silence. It was certain: Hellmuth would leave UB. But the question was, when? Apparently, the answer was: right after Annie Duke. It was probably the most ominous start for UB’s 2011, with two of their frontliners departing from the site. What was surprising about the incident, though, was that Hellmuth was eerily quiet about the whole thing. In fact, it was so unlike Hellmuth that most poker players were left scratching their heads in confusion.
The Silence Broken
It was thanks to Julio Rodriguez, a columnist on Card Player, that Hellmuth finally spoke out about his departure from UB. However, Hellmuth’s still not acting like himself as he’s mostly keeping mum about the whole thing. For one thing, Hellmuth insisted that it was just a coincidence that he and Duke left on the same day. He said that he knew that Duke was thinking about leaving UB and that she knew that he was in the process of leaving as well, but the whole incident was mostly just a big coincidence.
The big difference between Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth, however, was that Duke said that he would not sign on with a different poker site after her departure. UB has been her home for 9 years, she said, and it will forever be her ‘home’. Hellmuth had no such sentiments though, and it quickly became clear that he would look for a new sponsorship deal. He even released a Tweet saying that he was meeting with Full Tilt officials. In his interview, Hellmuth also added PokerStars and Bodog as potential sponsors. However, he also mentioned Zynga, which could possibly be a big force in the industry should the US changes its laws to something more favorable for online poker. Hellmuth says that he’s “taking calls from everyone” and he’s open to anything. It’s not all about the money, he says, it’s also about finding a place where he fits in. In Hellmuth speak, that means being the ‘top dog’.
Obviously, he won’t be the top dog at either Full Tilt or PokerStars, the former having Ivey and the latter having Negreanu. It’s going to be interesting waiting for Hellmuth’s decision, especially now that a lot of the big sites are vying for his favor.
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