The setup

We are still very early in the 2021 World Series of Poker, but Phil Hellmuth is already making a strong Player of the Year case (in the official points standings, he is third behind Jason Koon and Ari Engel). The all-time WSOP bracelet leader with an insane 15 pieces of jewelry, Hellmuth has made three final tables and finished 18th in another tourney in just the first two weeks. But it was missing out on a 16th bracelet this week that was the problem, as it prompted one of his worst tirades ever and has caused the WSOP to draw criticism for alleged unequal treatment of stars compared to average Joes.

As live-streamed on PokerGO, Hellmuth lost a big pot to Anthony Zinno in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship. Hellmuth would go on to finish fourth, while Zinno won the title. Hellmuth started with a pair of Queens, but Zinno ended up rivering a flush to win the hand.

Blast off

He hadn’t even mucked his cards when he started in: “This motherfucker, he peels the five of diamonds like it’s nothing and makes a fucking flush. Nice fucking river.”

He lowered his volume momentarily, but during the next hand, he just couldn’t let it go, yelling, “goddamn motherfucker!”

“Fucking punish me, he pops me on the fucking turn with a diamond draw and an ace There’s like one ace left. Fuck! How does he get rewarded for that bullshit fucking play? They fucking overplay their hands against me. That’s why I win all these fucking tournaments.”

It was more of the same, highlighted by him mucking one hand completely off the table and then parading around the table, cursing and moaning for about ten minutes.

The highlight line was one which, if we’re being totally honest with ourselves, should not be taken seriously, but some people will see as a threat: “So unfucking fair, I play like a fucking genius every fucking day. I think I’m gonna burn this fucking place down if I don’t win this fucking tournament.”

He’ll just keep doing it

Obviously, that’s pretty horrible, and Hellmuth did follow up by saying he was joking, but it wasn’t so much of a joke as it was a stupid comment fueled by emotion. It’s akin to saying, “I wanna kill that guy,” when you obviously don’t REALLY want the person dead, you’re just mad. In Hellmuth’s case, though, he’s a guy known for verbal blowups, this was in the middle of the WSOP and live streamed, extremely vulgar, and very drawn out. It’s just completely unacceptable all around.

Beyond the disgust many had at Hellmuth’s spectacle (I mean, you’re a grown man who has played in a million tournaments and has had more WSOP success than anybody – enough with the act already), the problem some in the poker community have with the situation is that the WSOP did nothing about it. Whether it’s 10-15 minutes of profanity, throwing cards, or threatening to burn down the Rio, most average players would have been met with some sort of punishment. But Hellmuth is a poker star among stars, so everyone just has to put up with it.

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