Phil Hellmuth feels the weight of history

Phil Hellmuth
Hellmuth decked out for the WPT Bellagio Cup Thursday.

Phil Hellmuth knows how to make an entrance - and an exit, for that matter.

On Monday, the Poker Brat arrived to play the Main Event dressed in a race car jumpsuit and accompanied by an entourage of 11 bracelettes - a bevy of scantily clad women representing all of his World Series of Poker tournament victories.

Today Hellmuth showed up at the World Poker Tour Bellagio Cup in a gold suit, decked out NASCAR-style with patches bearing his multiple endorsement deals, only to wade through the crowd and hop, hopefully, into a cab at the end of his first day in the tournament.

Restless during the day, in between several hands Hellmuth checked on friend Huck Seed's status in the Main Event and engaged in friendly arguing with his table mates. A WPT win wasn't to be, however, as a short-stacked Hellmuth headed to the rail - and an interview with - after his suited Q-10 ran into a set of kings.

I heard you say you're feeling a little impatient today.

Yeah, feeling impatient. I just decided that it was too much for me - I didn't feel like hanging in there with $6,650.

How do you feel about how you played today?

I got unlucky three pots they didn't see. I try not to show my hands; I try to muck 'em. But I could've folded the last hand. I just decided to gamble. It's alright; no big deal.

So what's with the jumpsuit today?

This was designed for me by Nastasha Bonetti in Houston and she did a really good job with it. I wore the black jumpsuit, but I got in a car crash with it - I crashed a NASCAR. (Laughs.) I crashed an actual NASCAR in the parking lot on Sunday. So I've got a few injuries from that and then I was bust out of the Main Event on Monday, so I figure no more black jumpsuit so I thought I'd try the gold one today.

Where's your entourage today?

(Laughs.) That's kind of a once a year thing. No, I don't think my wife would like that much.

No, probably not. What was the deal with the car crash? Some people were saying it was staged.

It was not staged. If it was staged we would have done a much better job. The video is not very good. If we staged it, it would have been a great video. It wasn't staged, unfortunately. I wish it would have been. I wouldn't have any injuries. Also if it was staged I would have told everybody the next day that it was staged. So it was an actual car crash. I've been icing myself for four days since then. I have trouble turning all the way to the left or right but I think I'll be alright.

Did it cause any problems for you playing in the Main Event?

I don't think so. I had plenty of Ibuprofen and ice. No, the entrance I made at the Series didn't really affect me either. It's crazy when you have all the cameras and all the attention focused squarely on you, but I'm more used to that now. I adjusted well for it and I actually won chips for the first few hours and then I started to go down.

How do you feel about your Series overall?

You're asking me at the wrong time because I'm just coming off of it and I'm not happy. I won one bracelet. When I win one bracelet that early I always win another bracelet. If I only win one it really doesn't feel like a success to me.

Why not?

I should be happy: they put me in the Hall of Fame, I won a bracelet. But, I mean, I was happy easily I wouldn't accomplish what I accomplish. I'm not easily happy. I won one on June 11. So I know I'm playing as great as I can play and I'm getting through thousands of players. I wasn't all-in for two-and-a-half days during that tournament. And so I just felt like I was going to win another one. When I came back to the final table eight days later, that was my golden opportunity and I didn't finish the job. I wasn't aggressive enough on Day 2 of that tournament and I wasn't aggressive enough at the final table. So I felt like I left something on the table, you know?

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not beating myself up or anything. I'm just not completely satisfied with the Series. Now, as time passes, probably a month from now I'll look back and say, 'Hey, that's great. You won a bracelet; you took the lead.'

It's not an easy thing to do, to take the all-time lead. You feel the weight of history on you. I decided it was my time to be the man - to take over and own the bracelet lead. That created additional pressure on me, which I fought through. There's a lot to be happy about.

You also made history with your induction into the Hall of Fame. Did you feel like that was a long time coming?

Yeah, and I'm happy too because I have the triple crown now: most cashes in World Series of Poker history, most final table appearances in World Series of Poker history and most bracelets - most wins - in World Series of Poker history, which they're calling the triple crown. So I'm happy about that. That's good. I've been working on those records since 1992.

Will you be driving yourself home today?

(Laughs.) No, I'm not doing any more driving.


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Phil Hellmuth now has a full year to milk his record as the world's greatest poker player. But his abilities at the felt can't be questioned and neither can the likelihood of another gold bracelet.

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