Phil Hellmuth is one of the more, let’s say, controversial characters in the world of
professional poker today. On one side of the coin it’s fair to say he is probably one of the most successful poker player ever, with 11 World Series of Poker bracelet wins. He has also been voted the best player of all time by fellow pros. The other side of the coin is that he is known as the ‘poker brat”. This is a charge levelled at him for good reason as some of his in-play outbursts can only be ascribed to childish tantrums.
So what’s going on here? We’ll go back to the beginning first and Phil Hellmuth was born on July 16th, 1964 in Madison, Wisconsin. he started playing for money while at college and quickly devised systems enabling him to beat the amateurs he was playing against. In his autobiography he says he saved something like $20,000 during his college period.
He subsequently dropped out of college and headed for Vegas where, after encountering a steep learning curve, he became the youngest player to win the WSOP Main Event in 1989 at the age of 24 (that record has since been broken twice more by different players), beating the legendary Johnny Chan. Now, twenty years later,it would be possible to write an enormous post just by listing his tournament victories and cash triumphs but suffice to say we can add 4 World Poker Tour final tables (he has never won) to his 11 WSOP bracelets and estimate his career tournament winnings at something approaching $12 million.
Hellmuth does not limit himself to the card table however – he has written five books – Play Poker Like The Pros, Bad Beats and Lucky Draws, The Greatest Hands Ever Played, Poker Brat and Deal Me In. He has also starred in two instructional videos. He has his own range of branded merchandise and has appeared on numerous TV poker shows.
So why the attitude then? Difficult to say really but in the end it only really shows itself when he is losing or has lost which quite possibly marks him down as a bad loser. He doesn’t lose too often though.