31May
Phil Hellmuth

Today Phil Hellmuth is a common name for poker fans around the world. This ultimate poker brat holds the record of winning an astounding eleven WSOP bracelets. He was given a place in the Poker Hall of Fame in the year 2007. The NBC Heads-Up Championships, the European Poker Championships, the Player of the Year Honors and more than 50 other major tournament titles have been conferred on this legendary player.

The Origin of the Title ‘Poker Brat’

It is impossible to imagine Phil Helmuth without his poker table antics. The title ‘poker brat’ is a result of his temperamental, highly competitive, colorful and slightly controversial persona. He is as well-known for his bad beat tirades and stunts as for his titles and WSOP wins. This is what makes him the ultimate poker brat of all time. One of his famous quotes is, ‘If it weren’t for luck, I’d win’em all’! hellmuth

Although his behavior while losing and the reputation of having an enormous ego does not go down well with some other players, it has made him very popular among poker television producers. Having made many appearances not only as a poker player, but also as a host on channels like NBC, ESPN and Bravo, he is a familiar face on television. He also appeared as a competing coach in ‘The Best Damn Poker Show I and II’ on FSN against Annie Duke.

Humble Beginnings of the Legendary Poker Champ

Phillip Jerome Hellmuth Jr. was born to Lynn Hellmuth, a sculptor, and Phil Hellmuth Sr., a dean at the University of Wisconsin, on 16th July 1964. He was the oldest among five siblings and spent his childhood in Madison, Wisconsin.

He played Texas Hold’em for the first time at the University of Wisconsin student union. He was soon earning a decent amount of money at the local poker games. He finally dropped out of the University, after attending it for 3 years, to try his luck in Vegas. It was only after visiting Vegas about ten times that he started winning at the tables. In the meantime, he worked in Madison for Blaine Farms as a field laborer to support himself financially.

In the year 1988, in a Seven Card Stud High-Low tournament, Phil was placed 5th. This was the beginning of a phenomenal career. In 1989, he defeated Johnny Chan to win the No Limit Hold’em World Championship. He was just 24, and this made him the youngest player to win a WSOP main event.

Reaching for the Stars

Phil Hellmuth is probably the most successful professional poker player of the last two decades. He joined the ranks of legendary players Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson by winning 10 WSOP bracelets. These are the only three players to have made this record. But unlike the other two champions, all his wins have been in Texas Hold’em events.

He has the seemingly impossible record of 3 consecutive wins over 3 days. He proved that he was the ultimate poker champion by winning a record eleventh bracelet in 2007 in No Limit Hold’em. He won his 11 WSOP bracelets in years 1989, 1992, thrice in 1993, 1997, 2001, twice in 2003, 2006 and 2007.

His highest prize amount was $755,000 in 1989 for winning the No Limit Hold’em World Championship. Currently his live tournament winnings are in the excess of $11.5 million. Jamie Gold, Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel and Daniel Negreanu are the only players ahead of him in the All Time Money List. He is to poker, what Michael Jordan is to basketball or Tiger Woods to golf.

Phil Hellmuth, with 11 WSOP bracelets, currently holds the record of having the highest number of WSOP tournament wins. He also holds the record for the highest number of WSOP cashes (79 cashes). He has authored a book called ‘Play Poker like the Pros’, which he has dedicated to his grandmother. He has also written many newspaper columns titled ‘Hand of the Week’, which chronicle the stories about his legendary wins against some of the most difficult opponents. He was sponsored by UB.com and a member of Team UB but left in December 2010.

Today he lives with his wife, a Stanford University psychiatrist, and 2 sons in Palo Alto, California. In 1996, he was voted the best No-Limit Hold’em tournament player in the world by his professional poker peers. Although his antics and outbursts are criticized by many veteran players, he has earned their respect as one of the best US poker players.

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