Phil Hellmuth Jr.: Poker Professional

Phil Hellmuth Jr. has won a record-breaking thirteen bracelets at the World Series of Poker, twelve of which are for Texas Hold’em variations. Hellmuth holds the record for most cash finishes at the WSOP. He has amassed over $18 million over the course of his career, placing him fifth on the All-Time Money List in the United States.

Hellmuth has received multiple Player of the Year Awards and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2007, a prestigious distinction for any poker player. Despite his flamboyant and competitive disposition, Hellmuth is known as the “Poker Brat.”

How It All Began

Phillip Jerome Hellmuth Jr. was born in Madison, Wisconsin on July 16, 1964. His father, Phil Hellmuth Sr., was the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, and his mother, Lynn Hellmuth, was a renowned sculptor. He was the eldest of five children.

Hellmuth stated in an interview with, “If you reflect back on my upbringing, as the oldest of five children, I always had to succeed, and I was extremely excellent at games. I labored diligently to become the greatest at games such as Scrabble. I needed to succeed; I was extremely competitive. If one of my siblings were to assault me, I would have no excuses. Never have I been a decent failure.” His poor attitude and intense competitiveness as a young child clearly contributed to his current Poker Brat personality.

Hellmuth grew up playing card games with his family, but it wasn’t until college that he developed a passion for poker, playing Texas Hold’em with his peers every weekend at the local casinos. After winning a multitude of cash games, he now had the capital necessary to pursue his ideal career. He had attended the University of Wisconsin for three years before deciding to drop out and pursue a career in poker.

Career in Professional Poker

In 1989, at the age of twenty-four, Phil Hellmuth became the youngest individual ever to win the World Series of Poker Main Event by defeating Johnny Chan, the two-time defending champion. Hellmuth held this record for twenty years until 2008, when Peter Eastgate took over.

Hellmuth is arguably best known for his WSOP performances. Below is a breakdown of his 13 World Series of Poker Tournaments, broken down by year, tournament, and prize money garnered. Hellmuth has amassed more than $12.5 million from WSOP pay outs alone.

Shocking Bet Scandal

Phil Hellmuth was a founding member of Team Ultimate Bet and was sponsored by them for the majority of his early career up until April 2011, when scandals within the organization became prominent. A former employee released audio recordings proving that Ultimate Bet proprietor Russ Hamilton and other company actors plundered over $50 million from their customers.

The recordings discuss the “God Mode” software, which is designed to reveal the base cards of opponents during real-money poker tournaments.
Originally intended to prevent deception by other players, it ultimately resulted in the theft of thousands of dollars by the game’s creators.

Phil Hellmuth’s reputation was spared through the publication of these recordings as Hamilton himself said that they needed to keep Hellmuth in the shadows about the “God Mode” program because he presumably wouldn’t support it.

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