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Phil Hellmuth Shakes Off Final Table Tirade, Earns Record 16th Bracelet

Poker Brat Apologizes For Tilt-Induced Meltdown And Continues To Dominate WSOP

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Nov 17, 2021

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What a difference a week can make!

Phil Hellmuth started off his 2021 World Series of Poker campaign on fire, making repeated deep runs in his quest for a record-furthering 16th bracelet. Unfortunately for the man known as ‘The Poker Brat,’ it was his comments about fire during a profanity-laced tirade at a final table that initially overshadowed his success on the felt.

“I think I’m gonna burn this f***ing place down if I don’t win this f***ing tournament,” Hellmuth said after suffering a bad beat to eventual $10,000 stud event winner Anthony Zinno.

Although he was quick to clarify that he was joking and that he “would never be violent,” Hellmuth’s tilt-induced rant went on for nearly 15 minutes into the next break, and continued until he was ultimately eliminated in fourth place.

“F***ing punish me? He pops me on the f***ing turn with a diamond draw and an ace. There’s like one ace left. F**k! How does he get rewarded for that bullshit f***ing play? They f***ing overplay their hands against me. That’s why I win all these f***ing tournaments. Miracle f***ing river. God dammit, what the f**k is going on here?”

At one point, Hellmuth stood up and mucked his cards off the table, telling his opponents that he was “playing like a genius” before stopping just shy of saying he “deserved” to win his 16th WSOP title.

The hand that set Hellmuth off occurred during six-handed play. Zinno was the bring-in with the (ADiamond Suit 10Diamond Suit) 6Diamond Suit and Hellmuth completed with split queens. Zinno reraised, and then stayed aggressive with his diamond draw which got there on the river.

The meltdown was all caught on cameras as the event was being broadcast on PokerGO.
The WSOP’s Norman Chad, who was in the broadcast booth with Jeff Platt, sympathized with Hellmuth’s bad beat, but was quick to admonish him for his behavior.

“Even if you are the best on the planet right now, everything you have done since the end of that hand has been completely reprehensible and unacceptable. It’s absurd. Nobody else would be able to get away with this. You talk about reforming yourself time and again, and time and again when push comes to shove, we get this BS. Other players should not be the victim of this type of abuse at the table.”

“This Jekyll and Hyde thing cannot continue,” Chad added. “He’s 57 years old!”
For his part, Hellmuth quickly apologized, admitting he “went too far” and vowed to show more of his “positivity” moving forward.

He didn’t have to wait very long to get another opportunity in the spotlight. About a week after his blow up, Hellmuth found himself at yet another WSOP final table, his fourth of the series. A total of 272 entries were made in the $1,500 buy-in no-limit 2-7 lowball event, perhaps none more eager for the win than Hellmuth.

“I’ve wanted a deuce-to-seven bracelet ever since the ‘80s because it was the coolest bracelet to win,” said Hellmuth. “It was the one tournament that Chip [Reese] and Doyle [Brunson] showed up for. All of the big-name poker players, Billy Baxter and all the champions, showed up for that one tournament. I wanted that bracelet so badly.”

Hellmuth came into the final day of the tournament in second chip position with ten players remaining and survived to the official final table as one of the leaders. After Jason Lipiner (7th – $10,023) and 2019 WSOP main event runner-up Dario Sammartino (6th – $13,463) hit the rail, Hellmuth fell to the short stack. He soon mounted a comeback, however, winning two key pots with 9-8 lows to surge back up the leaderboard.

Joshua Faris was the next to fall, running into two-time bracelet winner Christopher Vitch. Faris earned $18,421 for his fifth-place showing, while Hellmuth moved one step closer to the title.

Three-time bracelet winner Rep Porter came into the final day as the outright chip leader. He lost a big pot against Jake Schwartz during four-handed action that saw him plummet down the standings. Schwartz ultimately scored the knockout as well, and Porter picked up $25,661 for his latest deep run at the series.

Just minutes later, Vitch shoved from the small blind and Hellmuth called out of the big blind. Both players drew one card, and Hellmuth made a 9-8-7-3-2, which bested Vitch’s 10-7-6-4-2 (3rd – $36,387).

With that, Hellmuth set up a heads-up showdown with Schwartz, who held 3,900,000 to his 3,100,000. Schwartz was looking for his first career bracelet, having previously finished runner-up in a 2013 $1,500 shootout event for $202,035. He also took third in this year’s $1,000 Flip & Go event for another $82,675, giving him a great start to the series.

The New York native was able to stretch his advantage to more than a 2:1 lead before Hellmuth mounted a comeback, starting by shoving all-in over the top of a chunky post-draw bet from Schwartz to take down a huge pot without showdown. Hellmuth was able to steadily increase his lead, sitting with more than a 5:1 advantage by the time the two players were sent on dinner break.

It took just a few minutes after action resumed for Hellmuth to close out the win. In the final hand, Hellmuth shoved from the button and Schwartz called off his stack in the big blind. Schwartz drew one and Hellmuth asked for two. Schwartz showed 10-4-3-2 and was facing a 9-8-2 draw.

The pair agreed to let Hellmuth sweat his cards first. He picked up a 5 and then a 7, improving to a winning 9-8-7-5-2 low to leave Schwartz drawing dead. Schwartz ended up with a pair of fours and was eliminated as the runner-up, earning $52,502.

Along with his coveted 16th bracelet, Hellmuth also pocketed $84,851 for the win, bringing his 2021 WSOP winnings to nearly $320,000 so far.

Just moments after the win, Hellmuth told Card Player that he believes he will add another eight bracelets to his total before all is said and done. The 57-year-old Poker Hall of Fame member now has a six-bracelet lead over his nearest competition with this latest victory. Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Ivey all have ten bracelets to their name, while Erik Seidel has nine.

“I’ve always said that I’m going to win 24 bracelets. Ivey said he might win 30, so I readjusted,” said Hellmuth “I just have this weird sense that maybe I’ll win at least 24 bracelets, but they’re not that easy to win in the mixed games.”

Hellmuth’s prediction was overly ambitious, if not absurd when he was stuck on 11 bracelets and had the likes of Ivey breathing down his neck. Furthermore, all of his bracelets up to that point had come in hold’em, tournaments that were now filled with hundreds, if not thousands of players to overcome.

But in the last decade, Hellmuth has transformed himself into quite the tournament mixed games player. He won the 2012 $2,500 razz event, and then won the $10,000 buy-in razz event in 2015. His latest win was his third bracelet in a non-hold’em event, and this summer he has already made final tables in H.O.R.S.E., Omaha eight-or-better, and seven card stud.

“There is a lot of skill in these tournaments,” said Hellmuth. “It’s harder to win the mixed games. If I can win four or five mixed bracelets, I think it’s going to say a lot about my legacy. I think I am playing a bunch of games at a world-class level now. In Omaha eight-or-better, I think I’m going to win bracelets. In seven-card stud, I’m 99 percent and I think I could still get a little bit better. Razz, obviously, I have the best record in razz in history.”

As a result of his early success, Hellmuth has established himself as a top contender for this year’s WSOP Player of the Year title. When asked about the award, Hellmuth noted that he has finished as the runner-up three times, and went into great detail about how he narrowly lost out each time in the final days of the series.

“Just the fact that I’m still thinking about it tells you how much [it would mean],” admitted Hellmuth.

Final Table Results

Place Player Payout POY
1 Phil Hellmuth $84,851 432
2 Jake Schwartz $52,502 360
3 Chris Vitch $36,387 288
4 Rep Porter $25,661 216
5 Josh Faris $18,421 180
6 Dario Sammartino $13,463 144
7 Jason Lipiner $10,023 108

Hellmuth’s 16 Career WSOP Bracelets

Year Event Prize Money
1989 WSOP $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event $755,000
1992 WSOP $5,000 Limit Hold’em $168,000
1993 WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold’em $161,400
1993 WSOP $2,500 No Limit Hold’em $173,000
1993 WSOP $5,000 Limit Hold’em $138,000
1997 WSOP $3,000 Pot Limit Hold’em $204,000
2001 WSOP $2,000 No Limit Hold’em $316,550
2003 WSOP $2,500 Limit Hold’em $171,400
2003 WSOP $3,000 No Limit Hold’em $410,860
2006 WSOP $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $631,863
2007 WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold’em $637,254
2012 WSOP $2,500 Seven-Card Razz $182,793
2012 WSOP Europe €10,450 No Limit Hold’em Main Event $1,333,841
2015 WSOP $10,000 Seven-Card Razz $271,105
2018 WSOP $5,000 No Limit Hold’em $485,082
2021 WSOP $1,500 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw $84,851