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It ended with a bang!

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Jul 10, '07


Annie Duke and Don Cheadle's "Ante up for Africa"

I was having a great day. Being inducted into the Hall, standing ovation at the WSOP Academy, MCing "Ante up for Africa," followed by the after party. In attendance were Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (it was really great to see those two again), tons of others (you can read there names at the website), and at my table alone we had Charles Barkley, Ray Ramano, Brad Garrett, and Mikhy Pfeifer. It was a great event, and my sister made the money (the final 18), we donated 100% of her $11,000 to the charity. Did I mention that my wife made the final table? How sweet was that day? We donated 100% of her sixth place winnings--$40,000-back to the charity. On top of all if that, we had one of my best friends, Carl Westcott, finish in third place! I was so proud of Carl and Kathy! In fact, if Carl's Q-5 beats the J-3 and the J-9, then he wins it all! I had a blast MCing, but it does take it's toll after so many hours…

Great day, until midnight!

The after party is where it hit me. I knew I had hit the wall. 35 days of playing, a jam packed day of talking, but still, it didn't make sense to me, I mean I was supposed to have energy to burn after being put on cloud nine with my Hall entry. I excused myself from the party at 12:30 am, still depressingly sober as the cold light of day (not a single drink all day!). When my wife and I made it back to the room, I couldn't keep my eyes open. Fine, I went right to sleep. As I rocked in my sleep, I felt like I should go to the hospital. I woke up in massive pain from flow blown food poisoning. Oh boy, from the highest of the highs, to…this! My stomach was wracked with pain as I slept on and off until 6:00 pm, and we finally called a doctor. He prescribed "Cipro" for me, and by about 3:00 am, I finally ate some food. This caused me to miss the testing of the "Phil Hellmuth NASCAR," any and all booth duties at the tradeshow (for the UBT, the World Poker Store, and Pro Player Endurance Formula). Whatever, my wife and I thought it a blessing in disguise, if you could ever call food poisoning anything like that. Let's just say that the silver lining in the cloud was that I was able to rest, sleep, and withdraw from Saturdays WSOP start date. I would come in Monday with fire in my belly; ready to charge!

Booth work and Documentary

Saturday I woke up around 3:00 pm, sunned for 30 minutes, and hit the booths for two and a half hours. At 6:30 I did an hour for a documentary, and headed back to the room. I watched a movie, and hit the hay at 2:00 am, exhausted. But wait a minute, as tired as I was, I couldn't go to sleep. I jumped out of bed, and went to my laptop. There I found John Juanda ready to play Chinese poker online for $500 a point. At 4:00 am we kicked it up to $1,000 a point and when I was up 10 points, I decided that I would quit if I hit 4 points winner, or 20 points winner. I made a pact with myself. 15 minuets later I quit winning 21 points for the night. I tried to sleep, but it was really hard. I forced myself to lie there, and decided that I would sleep through any wake up call. This would be problematic for the booths, and the NASCAR filming I was to do, but the "Big one" is the most important event of the year for me, and I was going to sleep in, damn the consequences. My real sponsors know what the score is on this account anyway!

Car crash was real, NOT a stunt!

At 3:00 pm I woke up, and checked my messages, with half a mind to go back to sleep. Too late now, they were all waiting for me! So I went to the Rio with my authentic black NASCAR suit on. When I arrived, we shot for awhile, before I finally test drove the beast. I was surprised that there was no seatbelt, and that no one tried to make me where a helmet when I took off. They warned me about the "Racing clutch" but my old Porsche had one as well. I snapped right out burning rubber as I tore around the first corner. Man was this a blast!! I thought, "I sure have a knack for this." But I'm a guy, it's a real NASCAR car from last season, and damn it all, I was going test the limits! I was tearing around the Rio parking lot like a madman, with no rear view mirror, and no back vision at all. So what, I was swerving, and flooring it, and turning tightly faster and faster, until I left one sharp 180 degree turn reeling, pedal to the metal, and fish tailing. I was out of control and headed for a cement post! Damn! I was going 70 MPH, and I couldn't turn left. I slammed on the brakes, and WAP, I hit the barrier (a former light post that a truck had hit a week earlier). A bit dazed, I look up and see smoke! Damn Phil, get out of the car NOW! Time slows down, I jump out of the car, and as my left foot hits the pavement, I jump onto my right foot, and this wall of liquid just misses my left foot, and I see tons of fuel zipping by. Oh boy, what the hell have I done? My right upper back aches, but even worse my neck feels knotted and is aching on the right side. Still, I'm walking fine, talking fine, thinking fine. My buddy Layne Flack comes by to say hello just then. He doesn't understand that I'm in pain, I try to explain, but what the hell. I ask them to take me inside ASAP. I call my favorite massage girl (Lissette). It is a $500,000 car that I have totaled, but no one seems to mind. Everyone is thinking the same thing, this will get some great press. I'm thinking, "Do I need to go to the hospital?" I call my wife, and she calls some people. No massaging for 72 hours. No hot baths for 72 hours. You need to ice it down for exactly 20 minutes, then do it again. And again, for two straight days. We ice it, and it makes a huge difference. Lissette acts as a nurse, setting it up and icing me down while I lie face up. We ice it three times, once going 40 minutes. I feel sick, my body temperature is way too low. I KNOW this isn't right, and my wife confirms via phone, 20 minutes means 20 minutes, then it goes the other direction (becomes bad for you).

50 minutes later I'm offered $100,000 for the footage, but who owns it? I'm happy to make sure that gets the footage along with, and I'm told that ESPN News wants it, and that Sports Center may make it a "Top ten highlight" on Tuesday, and that will turn it into a commercial. Wow, I do know how to get press…I'm feeling super paranoid and out of control. My wife informs me that when people get jarred physically tests show that they "Become paranoid, and pay closer attention to their environment." This makes me feel better. After all, I may be paranoid, but I'm having a normal response to this "Stresser." Imagine me under ice, calling my wife, lawyer, agent, and the CEO of splashcastmedia! I'm also hearing reports that Harrah's is stressed out over this! There wondering what the heck is going on. I'm seeing that some people may think that this is a publicity stunt. I wouldn't have minded a bit if this would have been a PR stunt. But it wasn't, period. I'm on massive doses of Advil to prove it. And let's not forget the Cipro.

I finally make it back to the room, and believe it or not, I get some good sleep, for awhile. I'm told that there will be three camera crews awaiting my arrival for the main event the next day at 1:30 pm. has hired 11 models, one for each bracelet, with dates, and bracelets numbers on their clothing. Sounds good to me.

My tough day one in the big one, again!

I get up at 1:30, and order a limo for 2:00 pm. My agent tells me that I should show up at exactly 2:20 pm, because "The room is too empty until 2:25 pm. Oh by the way, there are over 100 people waiting for your entrance along with the 11 models, three television crews, and tons of other press." Uh…OK thanks. What the heck is going on over there? I arrive, and it is a madhouse! Autographs, pictures, and craziness; I feel like it is way too much for a single poker player going to play in a poker tournament. I walk with throngs of people down the hallway, feeling a bit skittish and trapped, as long as we keep moving though, it is no problem. But they make me stop to mike me up. There I stand being miked up, with 11 models chatting with me, people shouting my name, other people begging for autographs, and still others barging there way through the throng for a quick picture. Oh brother! We start to walk, and it is surreal, but easily tolerable, when we stop again. I just want to find my friends in the crowd (I can see some) and chat, but they will not let me move, because when I move, the models move, and all that jazz. So I stand there, an easy stationary target for all autograph seekers, picture seekers, well wishers, etc…

I try to remember why I'm there. I'm a pro, this will not affect me when I hit the tables. I'm here to play great poker ("Turn this way for a picture!" "One autograph, please!" You're my favorite player!"), and five minutes later were moving again. I finally hit the Bluff Featured table, not the ESPN Featured table (because I'm late, and they brass figures that I'll outlast Jamie Gold anyway). Whatever, I'm ready to play. Two hours later, I have $22,000 in chips when we come back from the break. I let the young aggressive Australian on my right bluff me a pot, because I know where that road leads. He will try again, and I'll give him all the rope! My usual set-up is in place. I pick up A-K and raise it up a full size raise for the first time all day. The big blind calls with Q-J off suit, and I realize-for the twelfth time--how bad these players really are. It comes down Kc-Qd-Qc, and we both check. 3c hits and he bets and I call. River is the dreaded club (6c) and we both check. Congrats, you called with Q-J, hit it well, and won almost nothing. Then I pick up A-K, and I limp in for $400. The guy right behind me (Player 15) makes it $800 to go and three people call. I reraise $3,000 and Player 15 calls me, along with-surprisingly--the small blind. There is now $14,000 in the pot and it comes down K-7-7. I bet only $2,000, Player C calls, and the small blind lays down. The turn is a J, and I do not like it. I look in Player 15's eyes, and I do not like what I see. We both check. The river is a 4, and I bet out $3,000 into $18,000, and Player 15 moves me all-in! Damn, I only have $8,100 left. I decided that the best I can do is split the pot, and I fold. I then fold A-7, A-6 and finally rise with A-8. Flop is A-Q-6, and all three of us check. 10 on the turn, I bet, and Player 15 calls me again. River is a harmless 7, I check, and Player 15 moves in again. Damn it! I fold, and he claims pocket tens.

A few minutes later I look down at Q-Q and Player 11 opens for $1,100. I see he has only $3,500 left, but before I act, Player 15 calls out of turn in the small blind. I decide that $2,500 total is in order, not really wanting to lose either player. Player 15 folds his hand, later bemoaning the fact that he would have made a straight had he played. Player 12 I lured in just right. This guy opened, with no antes, for $1,100 with K-J off suit. He now calls my reraise, pot committing himself, and the flop comes down K-7-6, we put his last $900 in, and I lose again! Now I had $1,600 left and basically ante it off, with one interesting hand coming down. With $400 left, I have 4-4 under the gun, and lay it down! Phil Gordon hates the lay down, many top pros hate the lay down, but I know that if I play this hand, then I need to win that hand, and the next hand (In the big blind) to stay alive. Still, it didn't feel right to me to fold it. The next hand, I pick up A-Q in the big blind, and for the third straight year, I go down with A-Q in the big one (although this year it was random as I was all-in before the cards were dealt).

I do know this: the black NASCAR suit cannot be lucky for me! Day one I total a $500,000 NASCAR, and sustain mild injuries. Day two, I get eliminated from the WSOP main event! Let's auction this thing off for charity ASAP!

Chip Reese and Chinese poker in the VIP lounge

Just as I'm about to leave, I peek my head into the VIP lounge, and there is Chip Reese. He asks me to play Chinese poker, and I agree but for only $500 a point. 82 points later, his dinner break is over, and I'm wishing that I would have played $1,000 a point. So even though I would pay $200,000 to buy back into the main event, at least I won $41,000 on the way out the door! I make my way out signing all of the autographs, taking all of the pictures, but always moving forward as I do so.

Learn more about Phil by going to his website, and visit his Web store at

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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