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Philip Hilm: "One Day I'll Go Back to Vegas and Try to Win It Again”
As most poker fans remember, Philip Hilm came into the 2007 WSOP Main Event final table as the chip leader.
As they also remember Hilm went from the top to the bottom in dramatic fashion, busting in ninth place while Jerry Yang went on to win the championship.
Since then, Hilm doesn't have a single entry in the Hendon Mob database. In terms of poker, he virtually disappeared.
"I Lost the Drive"
Did the way things went down in 2007 put him in a state of trauma? Did he quit poker altogether? And why does he live in Prague now?
“I honestly didn’t feel like playing anymore after that Main Event," Hilm told us on the first break of Day 1b at the Battle of Malta. "I had lost the drive.
"I had been an online poker pro for seven years and I did play a couple of smaller live tournaments after the WSOP 2007, but with no results.
"Online poker didn’t appeal to me much more either. I only found it mildly interesting. So I stopped playing altogether. I began to direct my life in a different way.
"First, I moved to Poland – I am half Polish – and then later I lived in Holland and England, where I met my wife. She is a Swedish hotel manager and when she got a job in Prague, we moved there together.
"I’ve been investing and selling real estate and I only got back to poker about two years ago.”
Battle of Malta Reminds of WSOP Main Event
This might be an explanation for the 888 patch he is wearing on his shirt. But surely he didn’t simply sit down in front of the computer again?
“It’s the math that interests me most," Hilm says. "I love studying theory. Math brought me back to poker and I started playing at 888.
"I’ve been grinding quite a bit and eventually it was 888 who invited me to come here to the Battle of Malta as one of their VIP players.
"I like this tournament a lot. It reminds me of the WSOP Main Event because it has a huge field with lots of amateurs sprinkled with a few really good players.
"Despite the low buy-in with the big field there is just enough money in it to make it interesting. It’s easy to spot who the nervous, fearsome players are and you can pick up a lot of tells, too.
"This gives the tournament a lot of value.”
On to Bigger and Better Things
So Hilm has come back to poker, which is nice to hear, but he's also pursuing other career projects.
“I would like to apply mathematical thinking to poker strategy," Hilm says, "to develop coaching software that uses game theory optimal. Much like PokerSnowie does.
"But for now, this is just an idea, not a fully developed project. Apart from that, I would like to help reform international educational school systems. In the majority of countries children aren't being challenged to the best of their abilities.
"Rather, they are being dragged down and the lesser-abled pupils determine the speed of the lessons. School classes should be diversified more often and build courses for different subjects, so students can learn in a suitable environment.
"Also, we have to focus more on the development of emotional intelligence. For example, in Canada, there have been experiments to bring young families with toddlers to school and then have the students examine the interaction between parents and children.
"Since they started these experiments 15 years ago bullying has gone down dramatically in Canadian schools. Obviously, they have had a massive effect on the development of emotional intelligence.
"There is room for a lot of improvements in many areas of international school systems, and it is time we start focusing on teaching the important things.”
One Day I'll Try Again
Clearly something that's just a phrase to other people applies very well to Philip Hilm: He's been off to bigger and better things. Still, the EPT will be in his current hometown next month and we had to wonder if he's going to play.
“No. I don’t see any value. High buy-ins and a lot of professionals make it hard to win.
"If there is any live tournament I really want to play again, it’s the WSOP main event because of its advantages similar to the BOM, as I explained.
"So one day, I will go back to Vegas and try to win it all over again.”