Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth to Coach November Niner Federico Butteroni

The final table of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event is less than three weeks away, so it is likely that the November Niners are getting geared up for the championship run by studying, practicing, and hopefully getting some rest. It is not uncommon for players to retain the services of poker coaches to help them prepare and Tuesday, via 888poker, 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth announced that he will be coaching Italian Federico Butteroni to help get him ready for the November Nine.

In a short video, Hellmuth made the relationship known to the public:

I’m really excited to announce today that I will be coaching Federico Butteroni at the final table, the November Nine, and he’s gonna meet me in Manhattan. On November 1st, we’re going to coach for five days in Manhattan and then he’s gonna play in my charity poker tournament and we’ll have him ready to go.

I’m really looking forward to it. I think Federico…16 blinds, doesn’t have a lot of chips, but he thinks a lot like I do. He has a great story and let’s see what happens. I need Federico to RUN IT UP! November Niner, coaching, let’s do this!

As Hellmuth mentioned, Butteroni is low on chips. In fact, with 6.2 million heading into the final table, he is the shortest stack of the November Nine. Though, to be fair, if he had just 26,000 more, he would be in eighth place. Also, in another attempt to be fair, EVERYBODY at the final table is a massive short stack to Joe McKeehen, who is rocking a tower of 63.1 million chips. Zvi Stern, in second place, has just 29.8 million.

But being the underdog likely doesn’t bother Butteroni, who was an underdog to begin with in this tournament, anyway. Going into the Maia Event, he had only won about $100,000 in live tournaments in his career (by comparison, I WISH I’d only won that much); his minimum final table cash of $1 million will increase his lifetime winnings ten-fold. He is also only the second Italian to ever make the Main Event final table — Filippo Candio was the first, finishing fourth in 2010. Butteroni has said that his goal is to double up within the first 20 hands.

Federico Butteroni Image credit: Furman

Federico Butteroni
Image credit: Furman

A friendly guy, Butteroni has also become a bit notorious amongst his competitors for frequently taking what people feel like is an inordinate amount of time to make decisions. For instance, on Day 6, he spent five minutes in the tank on a Jc-7c-2c-7d board before finally folding. He did the same thing on other hands, eventually finding himself squarely in the enraged crosshairs of Alexander Turyansky. Turyansky finally had enough and called the clock on Butteroni, resulting in the two going at it verbally. Eventually Butteroni was moved when tables were balanced.

It remains to be seen if Phil Hellmuth will be a good coach or if it is all just another Hellmuth publicity play (he just HAD to mention his charity tournament in the 42-second video, didn’t he?), but Butteroni could certainly do worse. Hellmuth is arguably the greatest tournament-poker player of all time, and he ranks as the all-time World Series of Poker bracelet leader with an incredible 14 WSOP tournament wins. Nobody else comes remotely close. Tied for second on the bracelet list are Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, and Doyle Brunson with ten. A difference of four might not seem like a lot on the surface, but considering how difficult it is to win just one, it will be quite the accomplishment for anyone to catch Hellmuth. Ivey is the only one of the three to have a chance, considering he is just 39 years old. At the same time, Hellmuth isn’t about to stop playing, so he could very well add to his record.

As if it wasn’t obvious by the fact that he has won 14 bracelets, Hellmuth knows a thing or two about the end game of World Series of Poker tournaments. He has reached an astounding 54 final tables and has finished second nine times. His 115 lifetime WSOP cashes is 21 more than his closest competition, Erik Seidel (who has eight bracelets of his own). Because of the explosion in Main Event prize money over the last decade, though, Hellmuth is only fifth on the WSOP’s all-time money list with about $13.5 million. The top three – Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Colman, and Daniel Negreanu – have all had their sums boosted by either winning or placing second in the Big One for One Drop, while the man in fourth place, Jonathan Duhamel, won the 2010 WSOP Main Event and the $111,111 One Drop Event this year.

Did we mention that Phil Hellmuth won the WSOP Main Event in 1989? Because he did.


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