Your Poker Questions Answered: “Is Phil Hellmuth Good?”

phil hellmuth6

Got a poker question? We might have the answer for you. Every week PokerListings tries to answer some of the more basic poker questions you might have. These questions are mostly for new players so feel free to ask anything. There are no stupid questions.

The following questions are collected from various places including our poker strategy section, Quora, Yahoo! Answers and the comments from last week’s Poker Questions piece.

This week we’ll take a look at Phil Hellmuth’s skills, the fight for legal poker in America and some of the worst odds in poker.

Feel free to drop questions in the comments section below and we’ll answer them next week.


Question: Best way to fight for legalized and regulated online poker in America?
-Chris (@y2icon) Icon via Twitter

Answer: Good question. The simplest answer is to get involved with your local government and contact your representative any way that you feel comfortable (mail, email, petition) about legalizing online poker.


Sheldon Adelson: Not a fan of online poker.

There are numerous petitions you can sign but historically politicians respond well to personal appeals so those are also important.

There are also several organizations that lobby for online poker including the Poker Players Alliance.

Of course online poker is already legal in Nevada, NJ and Delaware so its important to protect it there.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been making some noise about banning online poker lately so it’s a good idea to tell him to stop.

It’s particularly important for online poker to have a strong, mobilized community.

One other thing, if you’re in NJ or NV you should play online poker! Strong player pools in those states will likely help convince other states looking for revenue.

Q: What are the worst odds in poker?

We dug into that this week on PokerListings in a piece titled, “What Are the Odds? A List of Long-Shot Odds in Texas Holdem”.

We’ll leave you with one right here: The odds of three players flopping a set are really, really extremely unlikely. Like 1 in 13,960,821 hands unlikely.

Q: Is Phil Hellmuth good or just really unlucky?

This is really two questions.

  • 1. Is Phil Hellmuth good at poker?

Yes but there is a caveat.

Phil Hellmuth 2016WSOP

The Poker Brat

First of all there are plenty of highly-regarded pros who have zero respect for Hellmuth's game and claim his fundamentals are terrible. They might not be completely wrong.

At the same time he's the only player in the world with 14 WSOP bracelets to his name.

In reality Hellmuth’s key skill is probably playing against lesser-skilled competition and picking up reads on them.

Anyone who’s seen Hellmuth play live at the WSOP can attest to a certain “Poker Brat Aura” that captivates recreational players. It’s part of the reason he’s been able to overcome massive NLHE fields over the years.

Another knock on Hellmuth is that the vast majority of his bracelets have come in No-Limit Hold’em. Players who have a good grasp on all the games are generally more respected in the pro community.

  • 2. Is Hellmuth unlucky?

This one is impossible to answer without getting some very detailed hand histories for every time Hellmuth plays live tournaments.

We’ll leave you with this, however. Hellmuth is known to play a bit tight. Tight players generally get good hands cracked because that’s almost all they play.

Hellmuth has also won over $20 million playing live tournaments so it’s tough to call anyone with those kind of results “unlucky”.

Q: Can three-of-a kind beat two-pair?

Yes. Three-of-a-kind always beats two-pair. Here’s a look at the complete hand rankings.

Q: Do online poker players scout tables for seemingly bad players?

Gus Hansen

Everyone has been targeted at one point or another.

Yes. For a large number of players the goal of poker is to make money. You’re going to make more money playing against players that are worse at the game. It’s as simple as that.

The technique is often referred to as “table selection” or “bum hunting”. That said, it’s becoming more difficult for serious grinders to scout tables thanks to randomized tables and anonymous player IDs.

More and more poker sites are using a quick-seat functionality to avoid the entire lobby process. It’s a great change that’s being made to protect new or inexperienced poker players.

Read More:

Q: At any poker table is it legal or fair for a husband and wife to sit next to each other and give each other chips and split pots they win with each other?

No. Although husbands and wives can sit next to each other (as can friends, sisters, brothers or any other relation) they can never share chips.

If you’re in a cash game you could give your significant other some cash but chips are strictly forbidden. In fact, you must take all your chips out of play if you’re planning on removing any of them.

In a tournament you absolutely cannot share chips and that would be considered collusion and likely get you banned completely.

Keep in mind that if you’re playing a friendly cash game or poker tournament at home than this will usually be OK depending on the situation.

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