Phil Hellmuth is turning runner-up finishes into a habit at the WSOP.
Hellmuth came within one hand of winning his record-setting 12th bracelet in the prestigious $50k Players Championship early Thursday morning.
Brian Rast overcame a massive deficit heads-up to eventually outduel Hellmuth and take down the $1.7 million first-place prize and his second bracelet of the summer.
“This bracelet means a lot,” said Rast, who won his first bracelet earlier this summer. “To win this you have to go through a lot of top players.”
The $50k Players Championship, also known as Event 55 of the 2011 WSOP, attracted 128 of the world’s foremost poker players, which created a prizepool of $6.1 million.
It’s been four years since Hellmuth won his last bracelet but in that time he has seven final tables and now three second-place finishes.
Hellmuth was up to over 16 million chips to Rast’s three million chips before he suffered a complete meltdown heads-up.
Rast managed to double up in two consecutive hands where he faded Hellmuth’s flush draws.
“To have a massive chip lead and then lose is pretty brutal,” admitted Hellmuth.
Hellmuth, who is primarily known as a No-Limit Hold’em specialist, performed admirably in the mixed-game portion of the tournament to get to the exclusively No-Limit Hold'em final.
He then sliced his way through an exceptionally tough final table that included Rast, Ben Lamb, Minh Ly, Matt Glantz, Scott Seiver, George Lind and Owais Ahmed.
Rast understood that Hellmuth was on the cusp of making poker history but had no qualms about ousting the Poker Brat.
“I respect that the bracelet means so much to him but I want to win too,” said Rast.
There was some extra drama at the final table as the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year was on the line with Lamb and Hellmuth both in the running to win it.
Lamb busted out in seventh place, which cleared the way for Hellmuth to overtake him with his second-place finish. It was a notable consolation prize but the Poker Brat was having none of it.
“Player of the Year is nice but I’m after bracelets,” he said.
Hellmuth also picked up $1.06 million for coming in second place, which was interestingly the first time he’s earned $1 million in a single tournament. Hellmuth is the all-time WSOP cash leader with 85 individual in-the-money finishes.
Despite the crushing loss, Hellmuth was cordial as he left the final table and congratulated Rast for playing a great game.
There is one more tournament to play at the 2011 WSOP, the $10k Main Event, and Hellmuth mentioned he was feeling very confident about it.
“The way I’m playing I feel like I’m going to make at least Day 5,” he said.
The 2011 WSOP continues through July 19. For comprehensive coverage live from Las Vegas check PokerListings' Live Updates brought to you by PartyPoker.
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