Top 3 Phil Hellmuth Blowups

3 years ago
Top 3 Phil Hellmuth Blowups
08 May

Phil Hellmuth Jr, the self-professed greatest poker player ever, dodger of bullets, and infamous Poker Brat. His poor sportsmanship, thin skin, and bombast are legendary even outside of the poker world. But it’s hard not to watch him and wonder how much of it is genuine infantile frustration and how much is calculated showmanship; this after all is the man who stole Varkoni’s thunder at the 2002 main-vent by stepping out to have his mop-top strimmed to stubble by Devilfish live on camera while Varkoni was trying to celebrate.

Phil’s rants come in all shapes and sizes mostly the form of muttered soliloquies to the clip on mic or bellowed up to the stands to his wife if she’s watching. Unless the ‘honey’ he’s always yelling at is Phil Ivey (your fan fiction in the comments please).

So when pulling his finest from the stack it’s important to lead with a representative classic try Dragomir at the 2008 – a vintage year for Phil – World Series. Not only does it have all the hallmarks of an ideal Hellmuth rant: verbal abuse of another player, accusations of incompetence with an ‘idiot’ count being kept on the commentary, but it also has the added spice of an amateur player who is just not having it and a baying crowd. Come for the cards, stay for the gladiatorial combat.

For the second best hand, I think something that demonstrates the Phil-centredness of his world. Even when he’s not in a hand he can get a good rant in. After making a bad fold pre-flop, what else is there to do but to step away from the table and have a little rant while everyone else watches the all in showdown being dealt?

But the finest rant of all must be the one that never was.

In one of the most astonishingly brazen angle-shoots in televised poker, Tony G lied about looking at his hand. Then needled Phil through all three times they ran the board, and then taunted Phil as he left the table. Tony G was begging for it, winding and winding away...

And Phil just doesn’t break

He’s clearly turning the air blue on the inside, but he keeps it there. Fuming away and throwing out bitter jibes. It is beautiful; sometime Hellmuth doesn’t get mad with you, sometimes he gets disappointed. And you will not like him when he’s disappointed.

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Jon is a freelance writer and novelist who learned to play poker after watching Rounders in year 9. He has been giving away his beer money at cards ever since. Currently he is based in Bristol where he makes sporadic donations to the occasional live tournament or drunken late night Zoom session. He ...Read more


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