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
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
$10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship
$5,000 Limit Hold’em
$1,500 No Limit Hold’em
$2,500 No Limit Hold’em
$5,000 Limit Hold’em
$3,000 Pot Limit Hold’em
$2,000 No Limit Hold’em
$2,500 Limit Hold’em
$3,000 No Limit Hold’em
$1,000 No Limit Hold’em
$1,500 No Limit Hold’em
$2,500 Seven-Card Razz
€10,450 No Limit Hold’em WSOPE Main Event
$10,000 Seven-Card Razz
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
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
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
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, plus 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
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
Hellmuth also has his own site PhilHellmuth.com
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
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
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
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