Phil Hellmuth Does It Again, Wins 14th WSOP Bracelet
He has been a polarizing figure in the poker world for years, but there is no denying that Phil Hellmuth is a live tournament god, especially when he enters the ring at the World Series of Poker. On Monday, he put yet another exclamation point on his claim to the “best live tournament player of all time” title, winning his 14th WSOP gold bracelet, giving him 40 percent more Series titles than any other human being in the history of the planet Earth. Hellmuth’s victory came in the $10,000 Razz Championship, winning him $271,105.
Three men – Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and Johnny Chan – are all tied for second behind the “Poker Brat” with ten bracelets each. Neither Brunson nor Chan have any chance at all to catch Hellmuth, as they simply do not play enough anymore, which leaves Ivey as the only possible threat to Hellmuth’s throne. He has won five bracelets in the five years leading up to the current WSOP and he’s young enough to still be able to maintain his otherworldly skill level, but four bracelets is still a ton to make up in the chase. And that’s not even taking into account that Phil Hellmuth isn’t about to quit any time soon.
Hellmuth’s first eleven World Series of Poker bracelets were in Hold’em events, which did, for some reason, draw criticism from some corners of the poker world. He needed to prove himself in other disciplines, some said. So, in 2012, he won the $2,500 Seven Card Razz event to quiet some of the doubters. His lucky 13th bracelet came the following year when he won the WSOP Europe Main Event.
Phil Hellmuth’s first bracelet, of course, was awarded when he won the 1989 WSOP Main Event. In addition to starting his record run, the title was also notable because he defeated Johnny Chan heads-up, preventing the poker legend from winning three consecutive WSOP Main Events.
It is difficult to pick a WSOP that one could say was Hellmuth’s best. Four years after the Main Event win, he cashed four times in the 1993 Series, nabbing three bracelets and one runner-up finish. That’s called taking advantage of your opportunities. In 2001, he won one gold bracelet and had six other top fifteen finishes. In 2003, the year of Chris Moneymaker, Hellmuth won twice, made two other final tables, had a 12th place finish, and placed 27th in the Main Event.
Here are some more crazy Hellmuth stats for you. He now has 109 lifetime cashes at the World Series of Poker. The next closest is Erik Seidel (who has eight bracelets himself) with 89. Hellmuth is now fourth on the list of all-time WSOP earnings with $12,783,905, but the three players ahead of him – Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Colman, and Daniel Negreanu – all got gigantic boosts from either winning or finishing second in the Big One for One Drop event. Esfandiari’s prize from his win was over $18 million in and of itself.
And how about this one: Hellmuth has nine runner-up finishes in WSOP events. If a few cards had been flipped differently, he could easily have around 20 bracelets at this point. He once famously said, “If it weren’t for luck, I’d win every hand.” Maybe he was right.
After his victory, one in which he started the heads-up battle against Mike Gorodinsky behind and saw the chip lead change multiple times during the end game, Hellmuth told WSOP officials that he was very focused in this tourney. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “It’s one of those ones where I kept my head down the whole time. I tried to stay divorced from the result, detached from the result. I was just focusing on playing great, playing great, playing great.”
During the poker boom, Phil Hellmuth was, to put it lightly, an “attention whore,” doing anything and everything to get in front of a camera and promote his brand. At the same time, I can’t really blame him. Poker players were finally celebrities and it was time to milk the fame for all it was worth. In recent years, while he still doesn’t tire of talking about himself and name dropping, he has toned it down and has looked more like an actual human being. Normally a talker at the tables, he even admitted he wasn’t his usual self yesterday, saying, “This is the quietest heads up I’ve ever had before. Mike is just really tough and I need all of my concentration to give myself the best chance to beat him. He played phenomenal poker.”
The win was also a very personal one for Hellmuth. “I’m dedicating this,” he said after his triumph. “I lost a friend about a month ago, Dave Goldberg. I’m going to give this bracelet to his wife and kids. This is for Dave Goldberg. Goldy, I love you.”