Phil Hellmuth

We caught up with the greatest to ever do it at the WSOP to find out where it ranks in his successes. Watch the full interview below and read on for a breakdown:

Hellmuth and Ivey Clash During Midnight Hour

Phil Hellmuth’s record of success at the World Series of Poker is such that in gambling terms, Las Vegas is known as the Poker Brat’s playground when the WSOP rolls around. Only a week ago, Hellmuth claimed his 17th bracelet, extending his incredible record of victories. We caught up with him in the High Limit Bar at ARIA on the Las Vegas strip to bathe in the glow of a man in his element.

The event in question, the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty event, lasted just one day and awarded Hellmuth the top prize of $803,818. There was a real possibility that Hellmuth’s quest for his 17th might have gone into a second day, as he wanted it to when the small hours rolled around.

“We got to the final table and Ivey said he signed up for a one-day tournament. I said, ‘Ivey you’re not going to dictate the terms of this.’ We sat down and talked. I got his point, so I was like ‘All right, lets finish this tonight.”

As it transpired, the 10-time bracelet winner Ivey busted with six players left. With five-handed play leading to Hellmuth again proposing a return to play down to a winner the next day, not everyone agreed.

“One guy felt lucky and disagreed,” says Hellmuth, who only resides in Las Vegas during the summer, preferring California most of the year. “If one player doesn’t agree, you can’t do it.”

Rest Days Prove Pivotal for the Poker Brat

Phil Hellmuth being interviewed by PokerGO

Sticking around instead of deffering to he next day proved helpful for the Poker Brat, but there was just as big a chance his tournament might have ended in disaster. Heckled for hours by someone on the rail, something he believes to be unacceptable in the game, the final table players were moved. Heading into the cash room, there were between 20 and 30 people on the rail. And a certain Mrs Hellmuth.

“It was 4am in the morning. I text my wife and she arrived to watch it which was amazing.”

Hellmuth won a bracelet in 2-7 Lowball in October 2021 which didn’t feel that long ago to him, but since then, he had been heads-up three times… without winning. This time around, unexpected rest days helped Hellmuth win his latest bracelet.

“I was really upset I bust the deuce-seven event early, but I had three days almost completely off and came into [this event] well rested. At 4am, I was still very strong with no signs of fatigue.”

The Ultimate Poker Celebrity

Phil Hellmuth posing with a fan during the WSOP

Hellmuth’s legendary fame isn’t confined to poker itself. The Poker Brat’s innate ability to attract attention also extends to the wide mainstream media and he explained that it can easily affect your ego and swallow you up. Over the years, he’s developed a way to protect himself from becoming a famous person who loses their mind.

“When you first become famous, you have the real Phil Hellmuth and the persona of you,” he tells us. “Most people split completely and [that’s why] celebrities freak out; when the split becomes extreme, 90% of celebrities go crazy. I’ve merged the two and I’m comfortable in my own skin.”

As Hellmuth explains, mind-blowing opportunities regularly come along in his life away fro the poker felt. “This year 30 people came up to me in one day and told me ‘I love you Phil’. One woman came up and said ‘You’re everything to me’. That’s a lot to hear for anyone.”

Hellmuth cares about his friends, and even more so describes himself as a ‘family guy’, something that works well for him and his persona.

“All the crazy stuff, like Michael Jordan running to catch up with me, U.S. Presidents talking to me; it pulls you out of the zone and affects your ego. Most people don’t know how to deal with their egos and they take it out on themselves with drinking, drugs or big financial swings. I got in the door because of my poker greatness, but I stayed in the door because I’m a really great person. I’m honest and people love to be around me.”

Memories of Texas Dolly

Hellmuth’s enduring love of the WSOP is something that was shared by Doyle Brunson. ‘Texas Dolly’ passed away just weeks before the kick off of this year’s World Series and Hellmuth, who made a speech at the Doyle Brunson WSOP memorial ceremony last week, has fond memories of duking it out for gold with Doyle.

“Doyle was an oasis,” says Hellmuth, the only player to have won more gold bracelets than the 10-time winner Brunson. “You wanted to be with him. I remember being at Dusk Till Dawn and I was a little bit frazzled. We spent 45 minutes together and there was a comfort level. Everybody wanted to be with Doyle – he ruled the high stakes roost at Bobby’s Room for 40-50 years. He won 10 bracelets.”

Despite loving the ‘Godfather of Poker’, he won’t miss one aspect of Texas Brunson’s game.
“In the 1980s he bluffed me, in the 1990s he bluffed me. In the 2000s he bluffed me and there was video evidence on TV! In December [last year]I said to myself ‘Doyle aint gonna bluff me anymore, he’s 89 years old.’ He still bluffed me! I’m going to miss [him] but I’m not sure I’ll miss him bluffing me.”

Is Hellmuth ‘The GOAT’?

Phil Hellmuth dressed as a the greatest showman with a lion in a cage

Over recent years, talk in the poker industry has turned to who the greatest player of all-time is. The popular sporting acronym of GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) seems ready-made for the man with seven more bracelets than anyone else… but not everyone is a believer.

“The GOAT debate is very interesting,” says Hellmuth. “Look, 99% of the world thinks I’m the greatest of all-time. You’ve got guys like Daniel Negreanu who’s looking to take something away. I won 23/24 times playing high stakes cash games. I’m up $2 million in high rollers.”

This year, Hellmuth says, a lot of the ‘best players’ are declaring that Phil is tops. Hellmuth himself says he is more than aware of who his main rivals are for the title.

“I know who the GOATS are; Phil Ivey, Shaun Deeb and Daniel Negreanu. People are going to nit-pick, but eventually when they understand that I keep winning, they might say ‘Wait a minute, I might study what he does.”

At the end of the day, Hellmuth believes his WSOP legacy will seal his place as the greatest… to everyone.

“I’m going to win seven more bracelets,” he smiles. “Maybe in 10 years, Daniel will finally say ‘Phil’s the GOAT’.”

Hellmuth won’t hold his breath for that accolade, but instead he’ll keep doing what he does best – showing up at the table and being the last one in a seat. At the World Series of Poker, no-one comes close.

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Paul seaton

Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He's not just a spectator; he's been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker. Paul's poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he's interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton's expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide.
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