Phil Hellmuth

Rewriting the record books yet again

Though Phil Hellmuth’s meltdown at a final table last week has overshadowed his stellar poker play so far at the World Series of Poker, it kind of felt inevitable that he was going to have a breakthrough. And a breakthrough he had on Sunday, winning Event #31: $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw. That extends his record to an insane 16 WSOP gold bracelets, in a completely different galaxy than everyone else.

After Hellmuth, there is a tie for second place on the all-time bracelet list at ten between Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Ivey. Ivey is clearly the only one of the three that could even dream about catching Hellmuth, but as great as he is, the odds are decidedly against him (especially because he barely plays in the WSOP anymore).

After those three, the bracelet leaderboard is a who’s who of poker, but those young enough to have the time and energy to accumulate bracelets are so far behind that it’s just not worth thinking about. Phil Hellmuth is on top by a mile and likely will be for decades. I won’t go with the absolute and say NOBODY will ever catch him, especially with online bracelet events adding more opportunities to win without the wear and tear of live tournaments, but I certainly wouldn’t bet on anyone catching him in my lifetime. Keep in mind he’s not done.

Hellmuth’s other top-line stats at the WSOP are ridiculous, as well. In addition to his 16 bracelets, he has made 70 final tables and has cashed 156 times. He’s clearly not in it to eek into the money: almost half of his cashes are final tables. All told, he has almost $15.4 million in earnings at the WSOP.

A well-rounded Phil Hellmuth?

His antics and perceived skill in cash games aside, one of the knocks on Hellmuth for years, despite his WSOP heroics, is that he was a one-trick pony, simply a Hold’em specialist. Hellmuth’s first 11 bracelets were all of the Hold’em variety, and mostly No-Limit Hold’em, at that. But starting with bracelet number 12 in 2012, three of his last five have been in Razz, Razz, and 2-7 Lowball Draw.

And this latest was very meaningful for a guy who most would think is used to this by now.

“I’ve wanted a deuce-to-seven bracelet ever since the 1980s because it was the coolest bracelet to win,” Hellmuth said afterward. “It was the one tournament that Chip [Reese] and Doyle [Brunson] showed up for. All of the big-name poker players, such as Billy Baxter – all the champions showed up for that one tournament. It was a $10K with rebuys, so they would be in for $50,000. I wanted this bracelet so badly.”

“I’ve been fighting so fucking hard for this bracelet for so long in the deuce-to-seven,” he added. “My game has gotten better and better and better. I’ve worked really hard at it, and I know all of these tricks because I’ve been playing it since the 1980s.”

And now, in addition to his 16th bracelet, Hellmuth is in a virtual dead heat with Anthony Zinno (who just won his second bracelet of this year’s Series) for the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year title. There is still a long way to go at this year’s WSOP, so anything can happen. Zinno currently has 2,127.07 points, while Hellmuth has 2,107.41. The closest player to them is Jason Koon, with 1,666.20 points.

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