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Phil Hellmuth Wins Record 12th WSOP Bracelet

Avoids Disaster After Three Runner-Up Finishes in 2011

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Phil HellmuthA year after three second-place finishes, Phil Hellmuth has won his 12th bracelet — the most by any player in World Series of Poker history.

Hellmuth, the 1989 main event champion, won the razz event early Monday morning in Las Vegas, Nevada. He outlasted 308 opponents over three days to scoop $183,000, although he said he was oblivious to the prize money. He dominated the final table, beating the familiar Don Zewin heads up. Zewin finished third to Hellmuth and Johnny Chan in 1989.

Hellmuth knocked out Zewin en route to capturing his first bracelet and eliminated him again 23 years later to snag his 12th.

During the one-hour long dinner break in the razz event, Hellmuth returned early to the final-table stage. He walked around anxiously as the clock ticked down. He had on his headphones and sunglasses, breathing deeply while waiting to play the game that is his world.

The final-table audience was lethargic at first. The stage was mainly empty early in the evening, but filled and grew tense as Hellmuth inched closer to the win. About 150 spectators were there to watch Zewin squeeze his final card and Hellmuth jump with joy when it wasn’t what his opponent needed.

Present were Hellmuth’s wife, son and good friend Mike Matusow. Matusow was jittery while watching, leaving at one point after Hellmuth lost a hand. “I’m very superstitious,” Matusow said. According to Matusow, Zewin is a better razz player than Hellmuth.

Matusow quietly told Hellmuth something during play, to which Hellmuth replied, “This guy comes over and gives me advice after seeing just one hand. There’s probably a reason why I’m up here and you’re down there.”

Matusow shot back from below the stage: “I won’t be able to pick you up off the floor if you get another second.” Kathy Hellmuth, who had her eyes closed and head down when the last cards were being dealt, said that it was a huge relief for Phil to win. Another second-place finish would have been “unbearable,” she said.

“Mike might have had to drive me over to the Hoover Dam,” Hellmuth said.

Hellmuth’s 12th bracelet was his first non-hold’em title at the annual summer festival. He said he will end his career with 24. Kathy said that her husband won’t be satisfied for very long. He will be back grinding along Monday afternoon.

Phil Ivey at his final tableThe Wisconsin native also had pressure from eight-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey, who was at the final table of the pot-limit hold’em event down the hall at the Rio Convention Center. Ivey finished second about an hour before Hellmuth’s win.

Hellmuth was distracted momentarily.

“Then I laid down for a second and started mediating and said, ‘What is wrong with you?’ Ivey is going to do what he’s going to do. I needed to worry about what I was doing.”

Here’s a look at final results and POY points:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Phil Hellmuth $182,793 720
2 Don Zewin $113,024 600
3 Brandon Cantu $74,269 480
4 Scott Fischman $54,248 360
5 Brendan Taylor $40,167 300
6 Barry Greenstein $30,150 240
7 Michael Chow $22,945 180
8 Jeff Mistiff $17,693 120

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus