Putting poker aside, Phil Hellmuth is probably one of the most annoying and disliked players by fans of the poker world. Amongst players though, he is one of the most feared and most respected. His being outspoken at the table which may include occasional rants and blowups at his opponents has continuously raised eyebrows as to whether he is really adhering to proper poker etiquette. But whatever his behavioral issues at the table maybe, the fact still remains that Phil Hellmuth Jr. is one of the best Texas Hold’em players alive who continues to control large fields with his conventional yet often unpredictable and aggressive style of playing.
Phil Hellmuth Jr. was born in Madison, Wisconsin in July 1964. He’s named after his father who was a college dean and served as one of his most ardent fans. Nowadays, people are used to calling Hellmuth as the “Poker Brat” and he doesn’t seem to mind it at all. Hellmuth first discovered his potentials at playing poker when he was attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison to which he reached his third year at college before abandoning ship to play poker full-time. And since then, the poker world as people know it was forever changed.
At the young age of 24, Phil Hellmuth Jr. managed to win the 1989 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event and set out as the youngest player to have done so at the time. He defeated the famed Johnny Chan, the then two-time defending champion in a head’s up play. As of March 2015, Hellmuth’s live tournament winnings sums up at a handsome amount of $18,282,014.00 and is the 7th placer at the all-time money list. On October 18, 2015, he is ranked at 119th on the Global Poker Index where he was also ranked as #4 back in December 2012.
In WSOP tournaments, Hellmuth holds the current record for the most number of WSOP cashes and most WSOP final tables. As of March 2015, he’s been a proud owner of 14 WSOP tournament bracelets (which he traditionally gives away to close friends and family), 12 of those coming from playing Texas Hold’em. Hellmuth also had quite a big success in playing in non-hold’em tournaments. In fact, during the 2015 World Series, 22 out of his 52 finals tables are from playing an array of different games which include Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, Seven Card Razz, 2-7 Lowball, and Omaha Hold’em. He also made the final tables of mixed games such as H.O.R.S.E. and the Poker Player’s Championship.
1993 was a great year for Phil Hellmuth. That was the time when he won three bracelets on one WSOP, the second person to have done so in history (the first person to accomplish this was Walter “Puggy” Pearson back in 1973). Hellmuth won his three bracelets over three consecutive playing days. 1997 WSOP came and he proceeded to win his 5th bracelet of the same decade. Towards the end of the 1999 World Series of Poker, Hellmuth’s five bracelets would stand to be the most number of bracelets won by a single player in the ‘90s.
Fast forward to 2006 and Hellmuth has captured his 10th bracelet by winning in the $1000 No-Limit Hold’em (with rebuys) event. During that time, he’s tied with Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson for the most number of bracelets won. But at the culmination of the 2007 WSOP, Hellmuth surpassed his competition and won his record-breaking 11th tournament bracelet in the $1500 No-Limit Hold’em event.
In 2012, Phil Hellmuth Jr. got his 12th WSOP bracelet by winning in the $2,500 Seven Card Razz Event; the first bracelet that he won in a non-hold’em event. His success made him the very first poker player to win at least a bracelet at each event within the last four decades. He earned his 13th bracelet at the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe’s No-Limit Hold’em Main Event making him the first person to ever win both the WSOP and WSOPE’s main events.
Hellmuth was back in the news pretty recently when he clinched his 14th WSOP bracelet by emerging as the final winner at event #17—the $10,000 Razz Championship which marks it as the second non-hold’em bracelet for the since then inducted Poker Hall of Famer. Hellmuth said that it was probably the “most quiet” head’s up game he’s ever had. “Godinsky was a phenomenal poker player”, he quipped. “I needed to concentrate real hard to be able to defeat him”.
Phil Hellmuth Jr. appeared in several seasons of the cash game show, High Stakes Poker. He was also involved in the software creation for UltimateBet and was formerly a member of their poker team (Team UB). He created several instructional videos teaching poker and its strategies to millions of viewers. He wrote for the Cardplayer magazine and penned a bunch of books including the best-selling “Play Poker Like the Pros”, “Poker Brat”, “The Greatest Poker Hands Ever Played” and “Bad Beats and Lucky Draws”.
In 2004, he dabbled in mobile app creation and came up with one referred to as “Texas Hold’em by Phil Hellmuth”. He was a commentator at Bravo Network’s Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2006 and was a Poker Coach at Fox Sports Network’s Best Damn Poker Show. He also created his own line of poker gear which he sells on the internet. He, later on, agreed to coach WSOP 2015 November Nine finalist Federico Butteroni but then backed out of the deal citing previous obligations to the ESPN network. He also sponsors a number of charities and like what a lot of distinguished poker players say about him, Hellmuth is considered hell to play with at a table but otherwise a gentleman and a good friend off the table.