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Poker Prodigies Series – Phil Hellmuth

by Craig Edwards
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Poker Prodigies Series Phil Hellmuth winning

The fourth installment of Joe Wager’s Poker Prodigy Series looks at Phil Hellmuth.

He was the youngest winner of the WSOP Main Event back in 1989 at twenty-four years old, a record he held until 2008, and the California-based poker pro has gone on to be the biggest World Series of Poker winner ever!

That 1989 win sprung him to prominence, netting a whopping $755,000 in the process. Since then, the Wisconsin-born player has won a record-setting seventeen WSOP Bracelets.

Poker Prodigies Series Phil Hellmuth

WSOP Bracelets

  • 1989 – $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event
  • 1992 – $5,000 Limit Hold’em
  • 1993 – $1,500 No Limit Hold’em
  • 1993 – $2,500 No Limit Hold’em
  • 1993 – $5,000 Limit Hold’em
  • 1997 – $3,000 Pot Limit Hold’em
  • 2001 – $2,000 No Limit Hold’em
  • 2003 – $2,500 Limit Hold’em
  • 2003 – $3,000 No Limit Hold’em
  • 2006 – $1,000 No Limit Hold’em with rebuys
  • 2007 – $1,500 No Limit Hold’em
  • 2012 – $2,500 Seven-Card Razz
  • 2012 – €10,450 No Limit Hold’em Main Event Europe
  • 2015 – $10,000 Seven-Card Razz
  • 2018 – $5,000 No Limit Hold’em
  • 2021 – $1,500 No Limit 2-7 Lowball draw
  • 2023 – $10,00 Super Turbo Bounty No Limit Hold’em

Unsurprisingly, the fifty-nine-year-old has gone on to set the record for the most cashes at the WSOP with 176. He stands in third on the all-time money list with $17,782,609 behind Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Negreanu, who have both accumulated over $20 million in WSOP earnings.

The Poker Brat

Like Daniel Negreanu and Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth’s contribution during the new millennium –when poker hit the heights of a boom period– cannot be underestimated.

With his tantrums and hissy fits during the televised pro-celebrity games, his nickname, “the Poker Brat”, was born. As Hellmuth became more and more outspoken, his persona grew so much that his entrances into WSOP Main Events became legendary often wearing Emperor’s outfits!

Poker Prodigies Series Phil Hellmuth Emperor

Hellmuth’s outbursts in the televised pro-celebrity games would often be induced by a poor run of cards or a bad beat.

This behavior was so extreme that it elicited laughter and comments from his opponents who loved to mock and provoke the John McEnroe of poker.

Unlike Negreanu and Doyel Brunson, if you were an amateur in the pro-celebrity games, you would never receive any kindness on the felt from the “Poker Brat”. However, away from the competitive table, Hellmuth was often known for his good deeds.

No Need for Comparisons

Phil Hellmuth was one of the best tournament players ever, maybe the best!

When the debate is all said and done, Phil Hellmuth is proven over time to be one of the best tournament card game players ever. His growing longevity in the game is astounding and his tournament resume continues to grow and grow.

If you fancy a game of online poker, look at Joe Wager’s recommended sites that have been rigorously tested by our experts for their trustworthiness and standard of software. The same cannot be said of the “Poker Brat’s” cash game ability

Poker Prodigies Series Phil Hellmuth tantrum

The ridicule that Hellmuth often received in those televised pro-celebrity games was possibly induced by the format being different from the tournament poker he excels. In fact, usually those televised tables were a cash game.

Cash games are so different from tournament poker and the two disciplines are miles apart at times.

This is illustrated by the way the tournament players played more passively and looser in certain spots pre-flop than if they had the same situation in a poker tournament. Indeed, Hellmuth’s absence from online poker cash games suggests they are not his preferred option and much of the mocking we discussed earlier revolved around them naming Hellmuth a “calling station” and a “fish” in those cash games.

Phil Hellmuth: The Legacy

Like our three earlier installments of this poker prodigy series, Phil Hellmuth will leave a strong legacy in the game, and with his proven longevity, the story still has many pages to run.

Becoming the youngest WSOP Main Event Champion in 1989, launched a record-breaking career with his current count of WSOP bracelets standing at seventeen. There is no doubt the fifty-nine-year-old prioritizes tournament poker, and why wouldn’t he with that record?

His “Poker Brat” persona did much to promote poker during the boom period because every poker table needs a villain and Hellmuth was always that guy!

Don’t be fooled though, his acting would never make a Hollywood film, but that’s all it ever really was, because along with Doyle Brunson and Daniel Negreanu, Hellmuth has done much of the groundwork in promoting poker since the Millenium.

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Craig Edwards
Craig Edwards, an online tipster in golf and snooker for over four years, boasts a track record of 7800 bets with a 28% return on investment. A snooker professional from 1988 to 1996, he was once a single-figure handicap golfer. Achieving the 282nd position in the WSOP MAIN EVENT in 2007, Craig possesses a unique insight into the psychological shifts of professional sportsmen, anticipating their mindset week by week.

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