In case you haven’t heard, Phil Hellmuth captured his 13 WSOP bracelet the other week in Cannes. It was his second bracelet of the year after taking down the $2500 Razz event in Las Vegas earlier this summer.
This WSOPE title makes Hellmuth the only person to have won both a WSOP and WSOP Main Event bracelet. And his lucky 13th win puts him clearly in the lead of Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson with 10 each as the all time leader in WSOP bracelets.
In many ways, despite all of his accomplishments at the poker table, Hellmuth is one of the most underrated players in the game. A large part of that stems from the fact that Phil has no problem tooting his own horn. Many fans and players find it difficult to give someone accolades who is all too busy giving himself accolades.
Yet, there’s no doubt Hellmuth can bring it home. It’s easy to write off many of today’s Main Event winners as simply being in the right place at the right time. But it’s not as easy to dismiss being in the right place at the right time 13 times.
This year alone he has taken down $4.39 million in tournament winnings, which is his best year ever. His career cashes total just over $17.5 million.
And lest we forget, Hellmuth also took home second place in three different WSOP events last year.
Poker players and fans are just going to have to accept that the man who infamously coined phrases like, “If there weren’t luck involved, I would win every time,” and “I can dodge bullets, baby!” might not be as bad a poker player they would like to think he is.
Already debates are flying about whether or not a WSOPE bracelet should count. Especially since Hellmuth himself said a mere two years ago in a podcast that “everybody knows it’s not really a bracelet.”
But whether WSOPE bracelets count or not is not something for Phil Hellmuth to decide. The poker media and the poker community have already begun referring to Hellmuth’s win in Cannes as his thirteenth WSOP bracelet, which is usually how debates like this get decided.
So why doesn’t Hellmuth get the respect that his accomplishments would seemingly deserve?
It all seems to come down to the image of Poker Brat that he’s embraced and cultivated over the years. His emotional outbursts, condescending remarks to opponents, gloating, and prima donna persona make him a hard hero to swallow for many.
It would be hard to argue that his Poker Brat image hasn’t brought him a lot of attention and camera time. In fact, he’s probably better known for what comes out of his mouth than he is for his skill on the felt.
But even in a game where people like to say that they’d check-raise their own mother, Hellmuth’s Poker Brat comes off as mean spirited. He ends up becoming the guy people root against.
It’s a shame. With all of the career accomplishments that Hellmuth has racked up over the years he seems like he would be the perfect ambassador for the game of poker. And one gets a sense that he craves that sort of recognition. Unfortunately for Hellmuth, that is likely going to be an achievement he will never attain regardless the number of WSOP bracelets he wins in his lifetime.
Ian M is the owner of Intense Gambling, a website that is run and operated by real gamblers living in the Asian Pacific region (currently Thailand and Australia, two heavily regulated but very popular gambling nations).