Phil Hellmuth Jr: Professional Poker Player
Phil Hellmuth Jr. has won an unprecedented thirteen bracelets at the World Series of Poker, twelve of which fall under some variation of Texas Hold'em. Hellmuth holds the world record for most cash finishes at the WSOP, having accumulated over $18 million over the course of his career so far, making him number five on the United States' All Time Money List.
Despite being known as the "Poker Brat" for his colorful and competitive personality, Hellmuth has been awarded with several Player of the Year Awards and was even inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2007, a prestigious honor for anyone who participates in the game.
How It All Started
Phillip Jerome Hellmuth Jr. was born July 16th, 1964 in Madison, Wisconsin. He was the first of five children born to his father, Phil Hellmuth Sr., the dean of the University of Wisconsin and his mother, Lynn Hellmuth, a famous sculptor.
In an interview with AskMen.com, Hellmuth said this in regards to his childhood, "If you look back at my childhood, being the eldest of five, I always had to win, and I was damn good at games. I worked hard to become the best at games like Scrabble. I had to win; I was hypercompetitive. If one of my siblings beat me, I'd have all the excuses. I was never a good loser." His bad attitude and extremely competitive spirit as a young child clearly contributes to his Poker Brat personality today.
Hellmuth grew up playing card games with his family, but it wasn't until college when he really developed an interest in poker, playing Texas Hold'em at the local casinos with his friends every weekend. After winning a plethora of cash games, he now had the bankroll he needed to support his dream job. He had attended the University of Wisconsin for three years before deciding to drop out and pursue a career in poker.
Professional Poker Career
Phil Hellmuth, at twenty-four years old, became the youngest person ever to win the World Series of Poker Main Event in 1989 by defeating two-time defending champion: Johnny Chan. Hellmuth held this record for twenty years until Peter Eastgate took his place in 2008.
Hellmuth is probably best known for his WSOP performances and below we have provided an outline of his 13 World Series of Poker Tournaments and have broken them down by the year he won, the tournament he competed in, and how much prize money he received. In total, Hellmuth has won over $12.5 million dollars from WSOP cash outs alone.
World Series of Poker Bracelets
|1989||$10,000 No Limit Hold'em World Championship||$755,000|
|1992||$5,000 Limit Hold'em||$168,000|
|1993||$1,500 No Limit Hold'em||$161,400|
|1993||$2,500 No Limit Hold'em||$173,000|
|1993||$5,000 Limit Hold'em||$138,000|
|1997||$3,000 Pot Limit Hold'em||$204,000|
|2001||$2,000 No Limit Hold'em||$316,550|
|2003||$2,500 Limit Hold'em||$171,400|
|2003||$3,000 No Limit Hold'em||$410,860|
|2006||$1,000 No Limit Hold'em||$631,863|
|2007||$1,500 No Limit Hold'em||$637,254|
|2012||$2,500 Seven-Card Razz||$182,793|
|2012||€10,450 No Limit Hold'em WSOPE Main Event||€1,022,376|
|2015||$10,000 Seven-Card Razz||$271,105|
As you can see, in 1993, Hellmuth won three bracelets playing different Texas Hold'em events that year. Ted Forrest also won three bracelets that year which is impressive for both of them seeing as how there were only twenty-one bracelet events on the schedule.
In 2000, Hellmuth won the Poker EM's 7-Card Stud main event in Austria, defeating the 437 other players and bringing in over $100,000 in prize money. That same year he also won the $100 buy in No Limit Hold'em event in the first annual Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica, for another $50,000.
Hellmuth won the first National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2005, which was accompanied by the grand prize of over half a million dollars. The following year he came close to winning the World Poker Tour title at the Bad Boys of Poker II tournament in Los Angeles, placing third right behind Mike Matusow and Hoyt Corkins. As a result of his great success in poker thus far, Hellmuth was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2007.
More recently, Hellmuth won his 12th World Series of Poker bracelet in the $2,500 Seven-Card Razz event, defeating Don Zewin in a head to head match. Hellmuth also won his 13th gold bracelet in the WSOPE No Limit Hold'em Main Event, earning just over $1.3 million and becoming the first player to ever win both the WSOP and WSOPE main events in the same year.
Hellmuth is infamous for his bad attitude, as he's constantly making rude comments towards the opposing players, especially when he's on a losing streak. Hellmuth is often found saying this snide remark, "If luck weren't involved, I guess I'd win every one," or some variation of that phrase and opponents often refer to him as "The Poker Brat," for that reason. He's constantly getting reprimanded, like at the 2008 WSOP Main Event when Hellmuth verbally abused another player and received a one round penalty for his actions, even though it was eventually repealed.
Hellmuth almost won an additional World Series of Poker bracelet in 2014, when he was runner up in a close match against Ted Forest. Also later that same year, he took first place in the No Limit Hold'em Championship of the Pittsburgh Poker Open, where he cashed in for $54,000.
Although most of his accomplishments have come from competing in the WSOP, Hellmuth has had several decent money finishes at the World Poker Tour as well. In 2010, he placed in the top ten in two World Poker Tour No Limit Hold'em events, accumulating over $275,000 in the process.
Hellmuth's largest tournament cash out was actually when he placed fourth in The Big One for One Drop tournament's No Limit Hold'em event, taking home a whopping 2.6 million dollars as his reward. His next highest cash out, aside from the WSOP, was after placing runner up in the Poker Player's Championship, winning just over $1 million dollars.
Ultimate Bet Scandal
Phil Hellmuth was a charter member of Team Ultimate Bet, having been sponsored by them for the majority of his early career until April 2011, when scandals within the company became prominent. Audio tapes were released by a former employee that proved that Ultimate Bet's owner Russ Hamilton and other players within the company had stolen over $50 million from its customers.
In the tapes they mention the "God Mode" software which is designed to view opponents' hole cards during real-money games. Originally designed to make sure other players weren't cheating, it ended up resulting in thousands of people being cheated out of their money by the designers themselves.
Phil Hellmuth's reputation was saved through the release of these recordings as Hamilton himself said that they needed to keep Hellmuth in the dark about the "God Mode" program because he probably wouldn't support it.
Hellmuth released a statement after all of the scandal was made known to the public y saying, "Trusting my gut has allowed me to be at the top of my profession and develop a lifetime of friends and great experiences. Unfortunately though, I made a horrible read regarding my relationship with the founders of the now defunct online poker site Ultimate Bet."
Hellmuth the Entrepreneur
Hellmuth is constantly looking for more ways to increase his wealth. He wrote several books including, Bad Beats and Lucky Draws, The Greatest Poker Hands Ever Played, and Play Poker Like the Pros, he has also written several articles for Card Player magazine. For over fifteen years now, Hellmuth has written an international newspaper column titled, Hand of the Week, where he talks about the great poker hands he encountered during his years as a pro.
Hellmuth has made thousands of dollars by making guest appearances on all the major networks including NBC, ESPN, and GSN. He was the host of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown, where he does the commentating for the show alongside his good friend, Dave Foley and he was also the season 3 champion of NBC's Late Night Poker.
He's currently working with Oakley to develop a new signature series of sunglasses. Oakley has done six lines of sunglasses in their history including legendary Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong. This will be the first time that Oakley has ever recognized a poker icon.
You can go to PokerBrat.com to learn about Hellmuth's latest entrepreneurial endeavors, as on the site itself you can purchase apparel with the glorified Poker Brat logo on it and you can even purchase any one of the books that Hellmuth has written.
Hellmuth also has his own site which features how to videos, access to his hand of the week articles, and other personal information about Hellmuth's life. He keeps you up to date by uploading photos of different events and experiences he has and he doesn't shy away from showing off his latest wins and accomplishments too.
Hellmuth the Philanthropist
Hellmuth has hosted several poker tournaments to fundraise money for various foundations including Ante Up For Africa, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, and Eva Longoria's "Eva's Heroes" event, which raises money for people with special needs.
Hellmuth hosts the All in for Kids charity poker tournament, partially sponsored by PartyPoker. It was most recently held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City, having raised over $725,000 for the Palliative Care Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and it was especially a proud moment for Hellmuth as his dad placed third overall.
The 2014 Aces & Angels "Salute the Troops Wall Street Poker Showdown" that Hellmuth volunteered to MC for was a very successful event, which helped raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, and the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. People traveled from all over the globe to compete in the Prince George Ballroom in New York City for the chance to win a seat at the 2014 World Series of Poker main event.
Phil and his wife also actively give to Heifer International, an organization that's responsible for developing villages in the world's poorest countries, making sure they have enough livestock, poultry, and grain to survive as a culture.
Hellmuth met his future wife, Katherine Sanborn, while attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He purposed to her in 1989, soon after he won his first WSOP gold bracelet, and now they are married with two sons, Philip III and Nicholas, and currently live in Palo Alto.
Hellmuth enjoys going to clubs, where he often gets treated like royalty and is surrounded by beautiful women. Despite his popularity, he has told Bluff magazine and other publications many times that he has never cheated on his wife and that he's very proud of that fact.
His wife in return is very supportive of his career. In televised tournaments, she's often shown in the crowds cheering her husband on and always responding positively when he wins a big pot. She's also there to console her husband after he loses. Hellmuth and his wife recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, deciding to stay at the Monterrey Plaza Hotel in California to enjoy a week of peace and much needed quality time together.
We weren't surprised to discover that Hellmuth taught his two sons how to play poker as soon as they were old enough to hold cards in their hands, and his eldest son, Phillip, has particularly shown interest in the game. In 2012, he flew Phillip out to Las Vegas to see him perform in the $2,500 buy in Seven Card Stud event of the WSOP that year, which is the event where Hellmuth won his 12th gold bracelet, claiming in interview afterwards that his son was his good luck charm.
Today the father and son duo often compete in tournaments together, and at the 2015 Sugar House Competition they both landed money finishes. Hellmuth tweeted about the event saying," Cool experience for me! My son and I both cash in @sugarhousepoker $100,000 GTD! I have 500K+ in chips, Phillip 350K+ in chips! 64 left."
More recently, Hellmuth has started to compete in fewer tournaments than before, so he can focus more time on his wife and children. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf, as he finds it very relaxing and it gives him a break from the craziness that the life of a professional poker player often entails.
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: May 2015