Phil Hellmuth lived through the secluded chaos of the shrouded final table to take the $1.5k NLH Event #15, easing past Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson as the only player to win eleven bracelets in poker history.
Phil Hellmuth knew this was a great chance for him to take his eleventh bracelet. If experience was any measure, Fabrice Soulier and Scott Clements were the two players that posed the greatest threat to Hellmuth victory. Soulier is a top French player, with a WPT Final Table on his record.
Scott Clements took a WSOP title last year at a final table with Hellmuth, and unlike Soulier he had a 1.23m chip stack to start the day, second only to Rick Fuller (1.78m) and Hellmuth (1.48m). Hellmuth caught a straight to knock out Fabrice Soulier (7th $64,570), then he took out Scott Clements with A-10 vs A-5 (5th $112,997).
After Andy Philacheck knocked out Morgan Machina (4th $161,425), Hellmuth stood on a 3:1 chip advantage over each of the remaining players. Hellmuth's 4.5m in chips were a force, and he put them to good use against the former chip leader, Rick Fuller.
On a flop of , Hellmuth bet into the pot. Fuller moved all-in, and Hellmuth made one of his patented instacalls with . Fuller held and exited after hit the felt (3rd $247,518).
He had a monster chip lead, and he built it until the final hand. Behind the curtains, Philacheck moved all-in with , and Hellmuth called with . When the flop came , it brought him to the brink of the pinnacle of poker. meant a terrific finish for Andy Philacheck (2nd $394,594).
"Yes! Yes!" was the shout from the curtained area, and railbirds watching the last dozen players in the Ladies event peered over the shoulder. Some knew instantly, but only when Nolan Dalla announced Phil Hellmuth's title did the room know he had won ($637,254).
It was the most he'd won in a WSOP event, the largest field he'd ever beaten (2,628). Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan were there to celebrate with him as he accepted his eleventh bracelet. "My child was born on 11/11/71, and today is the 11th of June, so this is very special to me" he said to the crowd. (Photo courtesy of ImageMasters)
His first WSOP Cash was 5th ($15,450) for the 1988 $1.5k Seven Card Stud event. His first tournament win was for $125,000 at the 1988 Diamond Jim Brady event in LA. His World Series of Poker Titles now almost number a dozen (including prize money and runner-up):
1989 $10k NLH Main Event ($755,000); Johnny Chan
1992 $5k LH ($168,000); Steve Kopp
1993 $1.5k NLH ($161,400); Chris Tsiprailidis
1993 $2.5k NLH ($173,000); Noli Francisco
1993 $5k LH ($138,000); Don Williams
1997 $3k PLH ($204,000); Tom McEvoy
2001 $2k NLH ($316,550); TJ Cloutier
2003 $2.5k LH ($171,400); Young Phan
2003 $3k NLH ($410,860); Daniel Negreanu
2006 $1k NLH w/ Rebuys ($631,863); Juha Helppi
2007 $1.5k NLH ($637,254); Andy Philacheck
No one has ever called Hellmuth a luckbox, and the list of players he beat heads-up for the title is quite a roster of players. Hellmuth was entirely focused as the final table started, and he was oblivious to the strange environment that he played in. No one has described the WSOP Webcast set as being a good thing, but Hellmuth didn't seem to care.
His antics are legendary, and his reputation of chastising players has been with him for quite awhile. Ironically, he is not even considered the best Phil in poker much yet the best all around player. No one can deny that at the World Series of Poker, he is king. He has the most cashes, and now he has the record for the coveted bracelets.
It is really what he plays WSOP events for, simply to be able to achieve what no one else has done. And for that, he has to be first among equals with Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and quite possibly Stu Ungar as the greatest players ever to play at the World Series of Poker.