Love him or loathe him, there’s no denying that Phil Hellmuth is one of the greatest tournament poker players ever. However, the temper tantrums have stopped being entertaining.
The Poker Brat — who, at age 57, might be more accurately nicknamed the Poker Curmudgeon — won his record-extending 16th World Series of Poker bracelet Oct. 17 when he took down the $1,500 no-limit deuce-to-seven lowball tournament. The event attracted 272 runners.
The win further burnished Hellmuth’s reputation of being able to excel at something other than hold ’em. Hellmuth’s first 11 bracelets were in no-limit or limit hold ‘em events giving room for critics to label him a one-trick pony and not really on a plane with the game’s greats, such as the late Chip Reese and poker patriarch Doyle Brunson.
However, in 2012 when Hellmuth won his 12th bracelet, it was in seven-card Razz, the stud lowball game. In 2015, when he won his 14th bracelet, it was also in Razz.
For the deuce-to-seven victory, Hellmuth earned $84,851. It was, by far, the lowest payday for any of Hellmuth’s 16 bracelets (the previous low was 28 years ago in 1993 when he more than $164,000 in no-limit hold ‘em) but at this stage of his career, the money is less relevant to Hellmuth than his legacy.
“I’ve wanted a deuce-to-seven bracelet ever since the 1980s because it was the coolest bracelet to win. It’s the one tournament that Chip, Doyle, and all the big named poker players showed up for,” Hellmuth was quoted as saying on WSOP.com.
“I’ve been fighting so hard for this bracelet for so long, and my game has gotten better and better. I’ve worked really hard at it and I know all these tricks because I’ve been playing since the eighties. It feels really good.”
As has been the case throughout his colorful career, Hellmuth has had his off-color outbursts during the 2021 WSOP. At one final table, his expletive-laced rant at losing a hand brought strong criticism including from commentator Norman Chad who tweeted:
Was @phil_hellmuth out of line last night at the final table of the WSOP $10,000 stud final table?
Unrelentingly, unacceptably, unspeakably.
All the bracelets in the world do not excuse that behavior at the table. Ever.
It’s GOTTA stop, buddy.
— Norman Chad (@NormanChad) October 12, 2021
The Hellmuth multi-F bomb tirade included a declaration to “burn this fxxx place down” if he didn’t win the tournament.
After returning to room temperature, Hellmuth eventually congratulated the event winner, Anthony Zinno.
Before this Deuce-to-7 win, Hellmuth had final tabled three times already in 2021: $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. (6th); $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better (5th), and $10,000 Seven Card Stud event (4th) when he had the outburst.
Finishing second to Hellmuth in deuce-to-seven was Brooklyn native Jake Schwartz, who won about $52,500.
According to reports, Hellmuth kept himself under better control in deuce-to-seven, a point he made himself.
“I keep getting down there (to the final table). Today I told myself no swearing tirades and no threats,” he said. “I swore a little bit and I am sure the cameras caught it, but I was a lot more mellow, probably because I went too far the other day.”
Bill Ordine was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.Read Full Bio