Madison, Wisconsin, 1964
Palo Alto, California
Major Poker Accomplishments:
|March 4, 2005||National Heads-Up Poker Championship||No-Limit Hold'em||1st||$500,000|
|November 14, 2003||World Poker Finals, Mashantucket||$10,000 No-Limit Hold'em||3rd||$281,700|
|September 17, 2003||U.S. Poker Championship, Atlantic City||$9,800 No-Limit Hold'em||3rd||$116,424|
|May 15, 1989||World Series of Poker, Las Vegas||$10,000 No-Limit Hold'em||1st||$755,000|
Phil Hellmuth is a contemporary poker legend. His resume includes nine World Series of Poker bracelets and over 17 WSOP final tables. He has several 'Diamond Jim Brady' titles from the Bike in L.A. as well as 'Legends' titles, among them the 1988 championship event. He came in second in the U.S. Open Championship of 1996 and has four Hall of Fame bracelets. He has earned several titles in the 'Carnavale of Poker,' and has well over twenty additional titles from various international events.
How did this powerhouse get his start? Phil began playing poker as a student at the University of Wisconsin. He had variable success in games he played at school but eventually built up such a bankroll that he decided to drop out, despite his parents' disapproval. However, as he began to acquire more and more wealth, he showered his family with free trips to destinations of their choice and eventually their disapproval turned to pride.
For instance, when he was 24 he offered his dad a free trip and his dad opted to go to Las Vegas to watch his son play in the World Series of Poker. Here is how Phil describes the final play of that tournament. 'When I beat Johnny Chan my hands went up in the air, and I was filled with pure joy.' He says that his father 'came running up the aisle and was stopped by the security guards because there was a million dollars in cash lying on the poker table. I told them to let him through, and I still remember hugging my dad right then and there.'
Phil is a great force on the tournament circuit, he has a bit of a bad boy reputation. He says: 'I might be a brat just one time during a whole tournament, but that's what's going to be played on TV. Most of the time when I'm at the table I'm fun to be with, although if someone's trying to push my buttons I can get a little unpleasant with them. At the same time, if I berate someone, I always apologize. I'm a man. I know when I'm wrong. I know what my faults are.'
Phil might have his hothead moments but he is fundamentally good. Here is how he explains his philosophy. 'I would like everyone in the world to truly 'see the good' in everyone else. I believe that if that were the case, then we wouldn't have wars, murders and cruelty anymore. I am not denominational in my religious choices, but I believe that Buddha had it right when he told his followers, 'It is important to see the good in everyone.' I have a long way to go in my life to get to where I would like to be, but when I am at my best I am able to see the good even in some of the slimiest poker players out there. Sometimes it is hard, but I can always find something good in them eventually.'
Being a dedicated professional, Phil has ideas of the direction he'd like poker to take. 'I would like to find a way to make the general public understand poker. I believe that if the public understood poker, then it would become 'bigger than golf' worldwide. I mean anyone of any age, sex, religion, race or nationality can play and enjoy this game. Physical prowess is not required in poker. You can use your mind to participate in poker.'