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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP 2010 | WSOP Sights and Sounds

WSOP Sights and Sounds Day 29: Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth Race to 20?

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Shortly after Phil Hellmuth was eliminated in 7th place in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better tournament, he was approached by a reporter who asked what he thinks of Ivey winning another bracelet.  Hellmuth said that while Ivey may beat his record one day (Ivey has 8, Hellmuth 11) he said that it won’t be anytime soon. Hellmuth instead said that it’s a race between him and Ivey to see who can get to 20 bracelets first.  

We have already pointed out that Ivey is on pace for 30 WSOP bracelets by the time he is 48, so if Hellmuth hopes to keep the top spot, which we know he does, for longer than just a couple more years then he better get cracking.

One of the benefits of wearing a media badge is that sometimes people approach you just to give you their opinion.  Sure, not everything someone tells you in the hallway is worth repeating, but some have very valid and interesting things to say.  Today someone asked me about Hellmuth, and how much of his act is just for television.  I told him I didn’t know.  I said something along the lines like every time you think he is getting better with the outbursts and the rants he goes and proves us all wrong.  He also asked about Hellmuth’s tweets where he says, “it almost isn’t fair” in relation to how close he has come a few times to gold this year only to lose.  I told the man that the hands Hellmuth is losing on are fairly standard hands, and by most accounts he really hasn’t suffered too many bad beats this year.  

The topic continued with the man asking, “How does someone who has played poker so long not understand variance?”  

I replied that, “you have to believe that Hellmuth understands what variance is, it’s just that he chooses to ignore it.”  

The fact is that Hellmuth has played good poker this year.  He has advanced far into tournaments outside of holdem, which has been one of the many criticisms about Hellmuth.  But, what also seems to be a fact is the hands that he has lost have been standard, and that his rants after being eliminated, and some of his tweets are unnecessary.  It’s all part of the game, and if anyone should know that, you would think it would be an 11-time WSOP bracelet winner.


Phil Ivey has already won at least $1.5 million in side bets for winning a WSOP bracelet, and if the rumors are true, that number is much higher as Howard Lederer may have bet Ivey $5,000,000 that Ivey wouldn’t win a bracelet.  If Ivey is able to win another bracelet in the 15 or so remaining events then his side bet total could reach astronomical heights.  The new confirmed bet is that Ivey is getting 7 to 1 odds that he will not win another bracelet.  Mike “The Mouth” Matusow is one of the names confirmed to be taking action on that bet.  A slew of other professionals have apparently bet against Phil Ivey in this bet too.

The question that has come up is if side-bets take something away from the integrity of the game.  Ivey, and other big game cash players, haven’t hidden the fact that if it wasn’t for the side bets then they wouldn’t waste their time in these events.  This weekend 3,000 people will play a $1,000 buy-in event, hoping to win a first place prize around a half-million dollars.  That’s one decent sized pot in the game Ivey plays in regularly.  However, others like Hellmuth make it known that they are playing for the prestige of the event.  People say Ivey doesn’t see the prestige of winning bracelets, but when it’s all said and done, many people will still use the word prestigious when it comes to Ivey.  In nearly any other sport in the world, winning a championship is the ultimate goal.  In poker, there are many who would say that’s not close to the case.  In poker, for many, money is the ultimate scoreboard, not bracelets.


People coming to the Rio for the first time just to see some of “the people they’ve seen on TV” often want to cut right to the chase.  They don’t worry about what the tournament is, they just want to see Brunson, Hellmuth, Negreanu, etc.  Additionally, if you happen to be walking in the hallways between a pro and a fan trying to get to the fan, well, good luck to you.  Scotty Nguyen was walking down the hallway during a break, and a female admirer came bolting down the hall in an attempt to get an autograph.  It’s a fair bet to suggest that this was the fastest this woman has ever moved, but it was also the quickest I ever moved getting out of her way.  Nguyen was nice enough to give this fan an autograph and then continued on his way, only to have the same scenario take place again almost immediately.  As an innocent bystander you may have better luck standing between a mama bear and her cub.

Nguyen has also drawn a crowd today while playing because he is one of the two dozen or so remaining in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event.  Nguyen isn’t the only reason so many birds have been attracted to this tournament rail.  Robert Mizrachi, Todd Brunson, Brian Townsend, and Brian Adams are also still in the event. 

Today is arguably the busiest day the event has seen.  One way to tell is because the buffet lines are as long as the newest attraction at Disneyland.  The reason for the crowds is that over 3,000 people are in the $1,500 No Limit Holdem event, with at least 3,000 more expected this weekend for the $1,000 event, and it’s also the Tournament of Champions on Sunday.  The “TOC” has been discussed ad nauseum here on whether it’s good for the game of poker or not, but one thing for sure is that the thought of 27 of the best known poker players in the world playing in the event definitely draws a crowd.  It should be a wild weekend.  

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