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Phillips' star is rising at 2009 WSOP Main Event
"I think my game's improved," he said, suggesting he is ready to go all the way this time - and take down the title.
Prior to his 2008 Main Event Final Table, Phillips hadn't even left the country but that all changed after the trucking account manager blazed his way to his podium finish for a $4.5 million dollar payday.
Catapulted into the poker media spotlight, Phillips suddenly found his life transformed as he began jetting all over the world in order to play in big events such as the EPT and WSOPE.
He revealed that being exposed to the tough competition he has faced in places such as Monte Carlo and the Bahamas has raised the level of his game considerably.
"I've been playing all year with some of the best pros in the world at different places," he said. "When that happens, either you get better or you're going to get in trouble."
It seems Phillips has gotten better.
His won a $500 Deep Stack Extravaganza tournament in April and his story at this year's Main Event has largely borne out his assessment, his stack rising to a healthy level midway through day two.
"It's been going excellent," he said. "I started off with 62k, got up to 100, down to 80 and back up to 100 again. It's been up and down - but mainly up!"
His rollercoaster fortunes have been witnessed by the Phillipians - a small brigade of friends and family, who support Phillips by dressing up in his trademark red cap and white shirt.
Phillips likes the company of his group of fans - explaining that they help him enjoy himself while he toils away for long hours at the felt.
"They're friends of mine," he said. "They're having fun, I'm having fun. It's kind of nice to look up and see people you know, and to see nice little red hats everywhere."