In the latest Best Poker Moments video, Phil Hellmuth looks back at his historic victory over Johnny Chan at the 1989 World Series of Poker Main Event.
Chan had won the world championship the previous two years in a row. He was the favorite.
Hellmuth was a 24-year-old already making a name for himself on the pro poker circuit.
“In April of 1989 an article came out in Esquire Magazine, an interview with Johnny Chan, and my name came up,” said Hellmuth.
“Chan said, 'That kid, when he learns to reign it in, he's going to win the Main Event.'”
Two years earlier Hellmuth had reached a crossroads of sorts in his life and he made a decision that put him on a crash course with the WSOP Main Event.
“I was never a big drug guy. I was never a big drinker. But it was April of 1987 and I was drinking, and I smoked pot and it was like two in the afternoon in Madison, Wisconsin.
“I go to this little bar and my friends are playing pool for $10 a game. Maybe I had $15,000 in the bank and I'm trying to have fun but I'm like ...
“I went over to the door and I opened this door and boom, the sunlight hits me in the eyes and it's just dancing around, all the sunlight. And I'm like, “What the hell are you doing with your life?
“I got in a taxi and went straight home and wrote up all these goal sheets for the rest of my life. The number one goal was to win the Main Event and it was like a year and a half later that I actually pulled it off.”
Hellmuth Defeats Two-Time Defending Champ
Johnny Chan was returning to win a third consecutive world championship but Hellmuth was full of confidence even at 24.
“I leaned forward and I said to him, 'I'm going to play great poker. I'm going to play perfect poker and you're going to have to play perfect poker and get lucky to beat me.' That's what I whispered.
“And 32 minutes later it was all over.”
Check out the full video below for tons of behind-the-scenes gems from Phil Hellmuth and use the links to watch more Best Poker Moments videos from PokerListings.
Phil Hellmuth's Best Poker Moment
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