The notorious “Poker Brat” is undeniably a player of great skill – if not great manners – with a love for the limelight. Phil Hellmuth Jr. stormed into the poker world in 1989 when he became the youngest player to win the WSOP Main Event, and almost a decade later he shows no sign of slowing down. 2007 saw him break his tie for most WSOP bracelets (which he shared for years with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan) when he won his 11th bracelet. All of Hellmuth’s bracelets have been won in Hold’em events.
The biggest ego in poker was born in Madison, Wisconsin, the son of an academic father who had great expectations of his oldest son. Phil Jr. had different plans, however, and dropped out of university to pursue a poker career. Hellmuth persuaded his disgruntled father to accompany him to the 1989 World Series of Poker with the promise to buy him a new Mercedes Benz if he won the Main Event – reportedly, Hellmuth Sr. has never questioned his son’s career choice again.
Hellmuth is a record setter, with the most WSOP bracelets, cashes and final tables. Although he has yet to win a WPT tournament, his 10 cashes and 3 final tables have netted him $814,869. At the time of writing his total live tournament winnings are over $10,100,000 (half of which comes from WSOP wins) and he is the 5th highest earning poker player ever.
Unfortunately Hellmuth is better known for his terrible table manners and attention-seeking pranks than for his outstanding poker abilities. A born businessman, Hellmuth has his finger in many pies including an Ultimate Bet sponsorship, several poker books (and a biography in progress,) poker training sites and software, a movie deal and several forages into fashion. A born showman, he is also considering starring in his own reality show and recently promoted a Las Vegas poker-inspired musical which reportedly features the immortal line “I can dodge bullets, baby, but I can’t dodge you.”
Married to a psychiatry professor and father of two sons, Hellmuth is not aging gracefully or fading out – on the contrary, each year finds him more rambunctious than the one before. A darling of all televised poker shows and tournaments, there is never a dull moment when loud-mouthed, diva-like Phil Hellmuth is around, but he justifies his antics – such as crashing an expensive race car or shaving his head live at the WSOP – with his devastating skill at the tables. Hellmuth, already a member of the Poker Hall of Fame, aspires to be known as the greatest poker player of all time, and regardless of his behavior he may yet get there.
Hellmuth’s game analysis (by Barry Greenstein):
- Aggressiveness: 7
- Looseness: 7
- Short-handed: 7
- Limit: 6
- No-limit: 7
- Tournaments: 7
- Side games: 3
- Steam control: 2
- Against weak players: 8
- Against strong players: 5