He is also a walking, talking headline machine and over the years has become the most quotable poker player on the planet. Frequently emotional, Hellmuth wears his heart on his sleeve, always speaks his mind and in almost universally loved for it. Even his few haters are vocal about him – he is impossible to ignore.

Over the course of his life, the Poker Brat has said some incredible things. Here is a flavor of his rhetoric, with the best 10 poker quotes from the king of the WSOP.

The Self-Belief of a Superstar

You don’t win 17 WSOP bracelets unless you have extreme self-confidence, and Phil Hellmuth is almost the walking, talking embodiment of that stance in today’s poker world. It wasn’t always the case, however. As a young man, Hellmuth felt a lot of pressure from others in terms of his studies and by focusing his mathematical prowess on poker and zoning in on finding that self-belief.

1. “I kept telling people that I’d win the Main Event in 1989 and I did it.”

In 1989, Hellmuth became the youngest-ever winner of the WSOP Main Event, and after losing all his chips to Johnny Chan 12 months earlier, got his revenge against The Orient Express. Winning the World Championship by beating Chan heads-up, and in doing so preventing Chan making it three titles in a row, Hellmuth’s life was changed forever. He has since stated that it only happened because he truly believed it would.

2. “I can dodge bullets, baby!”

Phil Hellmuth’s experiences are voluminous. In fact, in The Poker Brat’s own words, “At the felt I’ve seen it all. I’ve been in poker longer than most of these guys have been alive, and I’m still here because I’m the best.”

Hellmuth certainly proved he was one of the best when he dodged bullets back in this infamous example of a hero fold made by a poker hero to millions.  What a lay down!

3. “If there weren’t luck involved, I would win every time.”

Hellmuth may be a great winner, but he admits to being a bad loser. We’re talking they based Superbad on him kinda bad. Hellmuth has often had his devoted wife Katherine on the rail and has been known to describe situations to her as they play out, sometimes unfavorably. Katherine, to her credit, is clearly the perfect muse for her man and has been known to tell him not to give them a chance at getting lucky in case they do.

4. “I’m the best poker player in the world.”

Hellmuth’s levels of self-belief are almost pantomime in their largess, but Hellmuth genuinely believes he’s on the ‘Mount Rushmore’ of poker greats, along with Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey. He puts his 17 WSOP bracelets on the marker for this statement and he has a point; no-one else is close.

“Occasionally, great players say ‘The WSOP isn’t that important to me,’”, Hellmuth once said. “But the next year, they’re back [at the WSOP]. Maybe some players look up at 17 bracelets and think ‘It’s too tough.’ That’s on them.”

When the Brat Loses His Toys

Famed for his incredible blow-ups, Phil Hellmuth often lapses into ‘Brat Mode’, taking it out on the opponents who surround him. There’s an element of playing up to this persona for television or social media, and some of Hellmuth’s tirades have certainly boosted his profile.

That said, when he’s mad, he feels every moment and a raging Poker Brat is truly a sight to behold. Stand well back…

5. “This is the worst run of cards I’ve ever seen.”

They say it’s OK to look at your play, but never your bad luck. If that’s true, Poker Brat fans might want to hide behind the sofa, because Phil Hellmuth doesn’t sound like he’s ever forgotten a bad beat streak. That said, the bracelet king puts those passionate feelings into perfecting the art of poker and channels his aggression into his game.

6. “I should have played that hand differently.”

Phil Hellmuth is passionate, entertaining, fiery and certainly blessed with an enlarged ego – and all those aspects of The Poker Brat’s personality are what we love about him. His complexities are, however, offset by a realism and truth that many observers wrongly ignore. Hellmuth will put in the work to improve – always.

7. “My frustration isn’t with the cards or the game, it’s with the way some people play. They don’t respect the game.”

Hellmuth is a superfan of poker, and in particular, the World Series of Poker. No-one has won more than the Poker Brat in Vegas WSOP bracelet events and he’s not always shy at letting his opponents know. And why not? But the Poker Brat’s personality is such that he wants to play a respectable game. For all of his histrionics, the history and pedigree of the game we all play is important to him.

Hot Headed Hellmuth at His Fieriest Best

We say that, but Big Phil doesn’t mind fighting back if he’s being taken on either in poker or verbal jousting! Hellmuth has been known to blow up several times over the years, in particular when players are either rude, insulting or both.

8. “I’m reading at a Ph.D. level and you guys are reading at an eighth-grade level.”

Hellmuth didn’t hold back with this hardly nuanced way of telling his opponent to shut his bazoo. Being called by the worst of it and being sucked out on is Hellmuth’s nightmare… and for others, it’s akin to lighting the blue touch paper – they better stand well back!

9. “The kid can’t even spell poker.”

This prime example of how Hellmuth’s own experience as an older player then colors his opinion of the youth of today in the game is revealing. Hellmuth was, of course, the youngest ever Main Event winner at just 24 years old, but he has no time for anyone foolish enough to provoke him… no matter how old they are, as you can see from this classic clip.

10. “I don’t mind being criticized if it’s warranted. But when players who are vastly inferior criticize my game, it’s laughable.”

When Phil Hellmuth told this reporter about his frustrations with some players refusing to credit him as a possible poker GOAT (Greatest of All-Time), he wasn’t holding back. The Poker Brat had a point though. On 17 bracelets, Hellmuth leads another Phil (Ivey) by half a dozen WSOP titles, an astonishing statistic given how few WSOP bracelets are actually on offer each year.

Phil Hellmuth is the most headline-grabbing poker player on the planet and it’s not had to see why! He’s bound to get into more exciting situation at this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Play your own way there via online satellites and you could be taking on the Poker Brat.

Just don’t make him mad!

Did this article deal you a winning hand?

Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!

Looks like you’ve been dealt a bad beat. We’ll shuffle the deck and try again.

Paul seaton


Paul Seaton,  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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