Phil Hellmuth. Love him or hate him. The Poker Brat has been a controversial figure ever since he stepped foot in Las Vegas in the early 1980s. He has won 14 WSOP bracelets since then. Hellmuth's 14 is truly a high-water mark that might not get broken anytime soon unless Ivey starts playing every event in the next five years. Hellmuth won at least 4 more bracelets than his closest competitor (Ivey, Brunson, Chan). He might be the best bracelet winner and self-regarded as the greatest player in the world. His skills are up for debate, but one thing is for certain… The Poker Brat is one of the biggest and most controversial personalities in the history of poker. And his massive ego rivals the biggest of big-ass heads in the poker community.
I covered the WSOP every summer for seven straight years at the height of the poker boom. One evening, an old lady on the rail saw my press pass as I covered a random donkament. She asked me if Phil Hellmuth was still playing. I politely told the grandma that Mr. Hellmuth busted earlier in the day. She smiled and said, “Good! I hate that guy. He's a real asshole.”
Phil Hellmuth. The ultimate villain. The guy everyone loves to hate. Even grandmas! Why? Because he makes himself an easy target. The whining and self-aggrandizement is what makes it so easy to loathe him. There's countless footage of Hellmuthian tirades on the interwebs. You can even create your own tirade. Just play against him in a tournament or cash game, then pick a spot to put a wicked bad beat on him, the needle him a tad, and you've got a recipe for a nuclear bomb. Just sit back and watch the mushroom cloud smother the rest of the table.
PokerStars TV compiled their newest Top 5 video. This newest series covers their favorite Hellmuth Meltdowns. These hands involve Hellmuth versus Annie Duke, Tom Dwan, and Philipp Gruissem. Along the way, Hellmuth gets into verbal spats with Bill Perkins, Shawn Sheikhan, and an amateur who is a school teacher. Oh, and in the ultimate dick move of all dick moves, Hellmuth even berated a dealer for not delivering him a favorable river card.
5. Hellmuth vs. Philipp Gruissem
Bahamas. 2013. 100K Super High Roller. Hellmuth's first hand was against German high-stakes regular Philip Gruissem. Hellmuth boasted that he was well rested after 13 hours of sleep and he was ready to crush the souls of his sleep-deprived subordinates. Js-2c-9c-9h-5s. Hellmuth bet 62K on the river. Gruissem shoved all in for 490K. Helmuth tank-called. Gruissem tabled Jack-nine for a full house. Hellmuth only flashed a nine, but alluded that he had a King or Queen. According to announcer James Hartigan, Hellmuth paid a total of “$49 per second” he was in the tournament.
4. Hellmuth vs. David Peat
Poker After Dark. Another classic confrontation of Ole Big Slick versus King-Nine. Hellmuth's A-K got beat down by Peat's King-nine. Peat turned two pair and all hell broke loose. “Nine ball, corner pocket!” he muttered. “Alright, I quit,” steamed Hellmuth. “I feel like I deserved a lot better!” he lamented in a post-bustout interview.
3. Hellmuth vs. Dealer and School Teacher
Hellmuth held two pair with Ace-five against an amateur's King-Queen. His opponent, aptly named Fishman, rivered a Broadway straight. Hellmuth released a tirade of f-bombs as he berated the dealer. Classic Hellmuth. Then he went after the rest of the table including trying to needle Bill Perkins, who stood up for the amateur. “You have boatloads of money. He's a school teacher!”
2. Hellmuth vs. Annie Duke
Poker After Dark. Vintage episode with Annie Duke, Sheiky and Gus Hansen. Duke re-raised with pocket cowboys against Hellmuth's Ace-ten. Hellmuth got irked that Shawn ‘Sheiky' Sheikhan was yapping during the hand. Hellmuth required stone silence while he pondered calling against “Annie's Ace-eight.” Hellmuth called in the producer (cool cameo from Mori!) to whine about the incessant chatter from Sheiky. “You're playing bad. You're just trying to get TV time. Muck your hand, idiot!” barked Sheiky.
1. Hellmuth vs. Tom ‘durrrr' Dwan
The NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Young Tom Dwan making one of his first televised appearances in the U.S. playing against the Poker Brat. This was new school versus old school. Online's top American young gun and high-stakes players against the biggest arse in the poker universe. Hellmuth woke up with pocket Aces against Dwan's pocket tens. Hellmuth induced Dwan to shove, to which he could not have called faster. Hellmuth faded the flop. The ten of spades spiked on the turn. Dwan improved to a set, but Hellmuth picked up a four-flush draw. Dwan dodged a bullet and his set of tens geld up when Hellmuth whiffed on a flush draw. Then Hellmuth lost it. He referred to Dwan as “son” at least twice. And then said, “Let's see if you're around in five years!” Dwan had a couple of quick quips, then offered to play Hellmuth heads-up (for rolls).