Phil Hellmuth Explains Why He Didn't Play WSOP $1m One Drop

Published on 13 July 2014 by Pokerlistings 1996
This year the World Series of Poker hosted the second-ever $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop and one player was conspicuously absent: Phil Hellmuth. The leading all-time WSOP bracelet winner played the first One Drop in 2012 but told that he left the financing too late and was unable to register because one of his backer's failed to wire $130,000 to the Rio in time. Hellmuth spoke to the PokerListings video team during the 2014 WSOP Main Event and gave us the whole story on why he wasn't in the One Drop. Hellmuth goes on to talk about playing in home games with billionaires and how much he learns from sitting with some of the brightest minds in business and technology. Check out the full video interview with Phil Hellmuth from Las Vegas and keep watching PokerListings for the latest news and video from the 2014 World Series of Poker.
As far as me not playing the One Drop, the backing was there but I did a really bad job. About a week before the One Drop, I wasn't sure if I wanted to play it or not. I decide whether I'm going to play the One Drop whether I'm informed or not. Well, clearly I'm informed. That week, I had two deep runs in No-Limit Hold'em, the 30th and the 35th with thousands of players.

So I should have been in that tournament. It was just silly of me not to be in the tournament. I wasn't aggressive enough asking for money. That's another skillset. I have a lot of friends that have been very successful in life, and a lot of them made billions, hundreds of millions, but I don't like to just ask them for money repeatedly and go back and forth. I asked Charles Barkley. I asked Matt Kenseth, the NASCAR driver. A lot of these guys were willing to step up. And so what it boiled down to is right at around 9:00 I raised a million, and I would not have shown up on time anyway.

So I came over here around 10:00 ready to buy in $130,000. The only guy I didn't know said, "There's a $130,000 here for me and it wasn't here." So that was awkward. Now in retrospect, what I should have done was picked up the phone and called a couple of my other friends. One of my friends bought the Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé, and he made a lot of money. He invented real-time software. Great guy. I've already made him a lot of money. I should have picked up the phone and said, "Hey, Vivek, you want to put in $130,000?" There were 20 people I should have called at the last minute - the Gretzkys. Janet Jones- Gretzky is great. I love her, so much fun, and she showed a lot of interest. I made a mistake and I had to register by 10:08 or I wasn't going to get in and I didn't get in.

And so it hurt a little bit, but I don't think this is as big a deal as everybody else thinks. Maybe if I were younger, I would think, "Okay, this is millions. It's the most important tournament of my life." I played it once, I finished fourth. I think I would have done really well if I would have played it. I think when it comes to No-Limit Hold'em Tournaments, I have this amazing kind of macrobility [SP] to get down there in these events. A lot of this stuff makes sense to me. I know how to fold 10s, and Jacks, and Queens, and hands like that, and avoid a lot of trouble. So I think I would probably have made it, but whatever. I didn't play and then later say, "I would've won it." I'm not saying I would have won it. Maybe I would have been first out, but I should have given myself that chance and I'll never make that mistake again.

The people I've played poker with in the Bay Area, they're all geniuses. These are the guys who run the universe. They've all made billions of dollars across a variety of amazing tech companies. They're so sharp. And so playing with them, I played with these guys in the private game for three years. And after three years, I was basically losing a couple thousand dollars. I'm like, "What in the world is going on here?" I've crushed everybody in the Hold'em my whole life. Yeah, sure, you're gonna have bad months, bad days, whatever, and a lot of it was my fault. I won a couple tournaments, got cocky and tried to bluff the billionaires. Do not ever try to bluff the billionaires, folks at home.

And then all of a sudden in January, the games got much bigger, and boom, boom, boom, I did really well. I made some real money in those games but I decided after three years in being losing that I'm playing in that game purely for social reasons. These guys are just so much fun to hang out with, and I'm trying to really set records that last for 50 or 100 years in poker. I'm trying to do some special stuff and they're trying to do some special stuff. And so it's really nice to have an amazing peer group like the guys that I have in the Bay Area.