The Poker Brat's a Hall of Famer

Barbara Enright, Phil Hellmuth, Jeffrey Pollack
Enright, Hellmuth and Pollack at the press conference Thursday.

Poker history was made today but it wasn't soon enough for the game's poster child, Phil Hellmuth.

The Poker Brat and pro Barbara Enright were inducted into the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame in a casual ceremony at the Rio Thursday afternoon.

"You waited this long to put me in the hall of fame?" Hellmuth joked to WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack at a press conference this afternoon. "I was supposed to be there in my twenties - my thirties!"

The honor is a nod to Hellmuth's record-breaking 11 bracelets and an illustrious career that includes a Main Event win. After receiving the trophy, Hellmuth thanked everyone from his parents to a friend who founded the business 1-800-FLOWERS.

He also took care to thank his wife for, in the past, having to put up with the poker lifestyle and its accompanying ego. The comment prompted friend and fellow pro Mike Matusow to shout from the audience, "What's changed?"

If Hellmuth has his way, not much will change - at least when it comes to the World Series of Poker. The consistent winner has lofty goals for both this Series and future tournaments.

"I'm not done yet," he said. "I'd like to have a nice long run in the Main Event. I'd like 24 bracelets."

Though overshadowed by the Poker Brat, three-time bracelet winner Barbara Enright was perhaps more deserving of the limelight as she made history this year by becoming the first female player inducted into the hall of fame.

"I'm so thrilled and honored," she told the gathered crowd after being presented with her trophy. "I feel like it's a lifetime achievement award ... I feel like I've earned it; I've worked hard."

Enright a also included a host of thank-yous, among which were Harrah's and her partner, Max Shapiro.

Prior to the hall of fame inductions, Pollack spoke briefly about this year's WSOP. He took care to deem the 2007 WSOP a "tremendous success," citing broken prize money and attendance records, the quickest turnaround of television coverage from filming to broadcast, and a huge increase in visitors to the tournament's official Web site.

The press conference ended with a question and answer session with 2006 Main Event winner Jamie Gold, who addressed his difficult year as the reigning world champion.

Six months of the year, Gold said he went entirely without playing poker as he struggled to deal with the death of his father and his mother's discovery of a tumor.

The publicly scorned pro seemed remorseful about his year as an ambassador of the game, noting that he now wants to help enhance poker's image and work with charities.

For his part, Pollack defended Gold's time as world champion.

"He wore his position quietly, but that doesn't mean it was without style and grace and meaning," he said.

Though he did seem humbled, Gold said he only feels as though he made one mistake after winning the record $12 million tournament last year.

"I have no regrets other than not knowing how to handle my money after I won," he said.

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