Poker Coverage:


If golf wasn't already fun enough...

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Aug 22, '07


LA again!

On Wednesday I hit more golf balls in anticipation of the big $9 million match next week. Why is it that bad golfers play for so much money? I started another "Stars Wars" marathon with my youngest son Nick, and my wife and I watched the rest of the television show "The Company;" which is about the beginning of the CIA. Then at 9:00 pm my limo came by to drag me away from my domestic bliss. I love being at home, and I love being with my wife and sons, even when they ignore me all day long. But business is business and Ultimate Bet wants me to shoot commercials in LA Thursday and Friday. So I faithfully answer the call of duty, one more time.

Thursday shooting commercials

Well…I'm happy to say that UB gets it with me; thus they had my limo leaving at 9:45 am (thank you!). I was reacquainted with an old friend, one that I haven't missed and one that treated me badly. Of course, I'm talking about the race car that I totaled at the WSOP. The car was part of one of the commercials that I shot today, and it turns out that I screwed up big time. In my haste to pack everything up at the last moment, and remember where my golf traveling bag was, I forgot to bring the black NASCAR suit with me from my house. Oh boy, I emailed the guys that info at 2:00 am, and suggested that they send someone to Palo Alto to get it. At 11:00 am our long time maid (more like a member of our family), Betty Gutierrez, agreed to fly down to LA and drop off the NASCAR outfit. Thank you Betty!

On Friday, after shooting another commercial, I leave for Vegas where I rush straight to the golf course (Bali Hai) to play a match with my partner Russ Hamilton. I have never lost with Russ as a partner, and hopefully that trend will continue for another week!

Friday and Saturday Practice, practice, practice

My golf game is as good as it's been in years. I'm hitting my drives long and straight, but that's not what my team needs from me. Russ Hamilton and Billy Walters need me to make some putts, and hit some irons close so that we can make some birdies. On Wednesday we play a three man, three team, one-tie-all-tie match for $1 million a hole. The other two teams are: Daniel Negreanu, Eric "EDOG" Lindgren, and Josh Arieh; and Doyle Brunson, Dewey Tomko, and Vince Van Patten. Everyone tees off from a different spot, but Daniel, Doyle, and I get to put our ball on a tee before every shot. Teeing it up like this doesn't seem like golf to me, but it shaves a lot of strokes off of my game! For example, I can tee it up when I'm out 240 yards and try to hit the green with a driver.

I shot my commercial for in LA, flew to Vegas, and hit the "Bali Hai" golf course to practice. I really like the course, but it is brutal to be out in the desert playing in 110 degree weather. Over the next week, playing 8 to 10 hours a day in that heat, I drank more liquids than I've ever drank before in a one week long period. I also burned every exposed part of my body, including the ones that were covered with sunscreen. Still, it really was a fun week! Friday night I called Eli Elezra and we played Chinese poker for $1,000 a point. I won exactly $50,000 and quit at 3:00 am.

Saturday: Phil plays MC again

Saturday I slept in and went to MC Jermain O'Neal and Greg Anthony's NBA event "Old school vs. New school," at the Mirage. There were tons of celebs in attendance. I was pleased to meet many stars, including; Rick Barry, Brandy, Tracy McGrady, John Starks, and Golden State Warriors Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson. It was also really nice to see Robert "Big shot Bob" Horry again. The final three included old schooler-and host--Greg Anthony and new schooler Zach Randolph. This made for some good drama, but the third guy won it. Still, Anthony and Randolph played Hold'em really well.

The minute it ended at 5:20 pm, I rushed off to Bali Hai to get in a quick 18 holes. That night I played Chinese poker with David "OP" Oppenheim for $500 a point. OP quit when I was up $23,000, but before I left "Bobby's Room" he came back. When the smoke cleared I was losing $7,000. I decided against attending the NBA party at "Jet" at the Mirage, because I needed some good sleep.

Sunday-High stakes golf with the "Cube!"

Russ Hamilton, Denny Mason and I teed it up at Bali Hai at 9:00 am Sunday morning. After a few holes Denny and I began playing for $500 a hole with the "Doubling cube." This concept of the doubling cube is fantastic! It really evens the playing field. At the turn, I owed Denny $2,500. As we sat inside enjoying the air conditioning, we discussed a potential match. I told Denny that I wanted to play a two man scramble where Denny and I hit the only tee shots for our team. My partner would be golf stud Jeff Friedman, and Denny could have the ace player that he brought with him that day. Jeff and I knew that the match wouldn't be fair if we allowed both him and the ace to tee off. So we insisted on only Denny and I teeing it up. We headed out for a cheap $500 a hole cube match, but I knew that this level of stakes wouldn't last too long. I gave Jeff a 20% free roll, and had him out there so that he could help me with my faulty putting stroke.

After two holes, I kicked it up to $1,500 a hole. My reasons to kick it up were many. First, how often do I get to have Jeff on my team? Jeff is a clutch golfer who is used to playing for much higher stakes, and I knew that he wouldn't choke until we had at least $30,000 bet on one hole. Denny's ace was choking already, and we had just started to kick it up. The third reason to kick it up was that Denny had drank at least 10 drinks, and was throwing loose cubes to me. When someone throws loose cubes to you, it gives you a huge edge! Here is a great hole that shows the power of owning the cube. On the ninth hole (hole 18 at Bali Hai) we were playing a $3,000 cube game when I hit a bad tee shot. I pulled my seven iron shot straight left over the trees into (presumably) the other fairway. Denny hit one up the middle and threw us the cube. I now had the option of accepting the cube and playing the hole for $6,000, or paying Denny $3,000. I immediately accepted the cube, and loved it. Because, assuming that we found my ball, we had a better angle than they did! They had to hit over the water--over the bunkers--with the wind at their back, and it would be hard to stop their ball on the green. Most likely they would hit their balls into the back bunker. From where we were, we would be hitting with a right to left wind, but not over any bunkers. We found my ball in the middle of the tenth fairway, only 155 yards out.

Denny and his ace both hit it into the back bunkers, and now I hit a bad shot into the water. But Jeff said, "I got this one." I helped line up his blind shot (that's all I could do!), and he hit it to 20 feet. Now I had a decision, to throw the cube back to them, or not? I decided that if I threw it, then they would take it, and why let them hit the ball to two feet and throw the cube back for $24,000? So I waited for a second. After the ace hit his ball over the green into the front bunker, I threw the cube. Denny could now pay me $6,000, or take the cube and have the hole be worth $12,000. Denny took it, and now the hole was for $12,000. Denny hit it into the front bunker as well, and now they had to sink a 30 foot bunker shot for par! Denny's team didn't sink their bunker shot; so Jeff and I needed to two putt for $12,000. If we made the birdie, then we picked up a $2,000 bonus-birdies or better were worth $2,000 extra. We two putted and picked up $12,000 ($14,000 for the nine).

Back in the clubhouse the renegotiation started. Denny's ace was choking, and Denny had someone else ready to take his place. We agreed, and off we went. "Nate" claimed that he had an 8 handicap. Yeah right, and I'm the queen of England! On the third hole, we lost $6,000. On the fourth hole we won $12,000. On the fifth hole, Jeff and I screwed up big time when we three putted from twenty feet. (Did Doyle and Russ screaming "Hurry up" from the fairway affect us?) In any case, we lost another $6,000. At the end of the nine Jeff and I were a little bummed out. Here we were, with Denny throwing us the cube at every opportunity, and we were only $12,000 ahead for the day. We went out for another nine holes, this time playing the front nine. On the second hole, Denny hit his only bad drive of the day, and we threw him the cube. After all, they were 220 yards out, into the wind, up the hill, and in the rough: and we were 120 yards out, in the fairway. We reasoned that they couldn't hit the green from there. Then Nate hit an unbelievable shot to 19 feet or so, and Denny threw the cube back to us, which I thought was a big mistake. I mean why give up the cube, and all of that power? Especially when we figured to hit it inside of them. I took the cube (the hole was now for $12,000), hit another terrible shot, and Jeff hit it to 19 feet (but in the fringe). They were above the hole, and we were below the hole. It was so close we had to declare it a tie, and flip a coin for who putted first. We won the toss, and started a debate. If we putted first, and knocked it in, then we could throw the cube and they would presumably have to pass: they would have to pay us $12,000, or putt for a hole worth $24,000). Jeff said, "I want to see them putt first." OK, decision made. They both missed (narrowly), and now we threw the cube to them. They accepted, and now the hole was worth $24,000. If we didn't hit it close, then they would throw the cube back, and we would have to putt for $48,000 (and this had already happened to us once, thank goodness Jeff made a four footer to save $24,000). Still, throwing the cube was the right move. I lined up my putt, and knocked it into the heart, for $26,000 (24 plus 2 for birdie). Jeff jumped on my back, and Russ-back in the fairway behind us-looked pretty excited too (more on THAT later).

On the second to second to last hole (number 8) I drilled a drive, and hit a low wedge 80 yards to 5 feet. After they missed their birdie putts, we threw them the cube-we were playing $5,000 cube now-and they accepted for $10,000. Jeff told me straight in, and I didn't believe him. Then he laid down on his belly from both angles and said, "Straight in." I knocked the five-footer straight (good read Jeff!) into the heart for $12,000, cha-ching! Phil makes birdie on his own ball! On the last hole of the day (number 9), a par three about 105 yards in length, I agreed to kick it up to a $10,000 cube, because we were $41,000 ahead. I hit my shot right at the flag and Jeff shouted "Gin!" It came up 15 feet short, but I was feeling a lot of pressure and I was absolutely thrilled with it. Not too mention that there was water on the hole. Denny had only missed one drive in 30 holes, but he was pretty drunk by now. Denny hit an absolutely hideous shot, that went low and left, rolling about 20 miles per hour, and it rolled right into the water. I said, "Cube." He said, "I concede." And the match was over, $51,000 for the good guys.

Later, the next day, at the banquet for the "High Stakes" golf show, Russ told me that he had won ten times whatever I won from Denny. That explained why Denny threw the golf club a few times. Russ had won a whopping $510,000!


After 36 holes of an intense match Sunday, I went out late Monday and played for nothing. I chilled, played 14 holes, and called it an early night. David OP and I were going to play Chinese, but I bailed and went to bed by 11:00 pm.


Russ and I played Doyle and Dewey Tomko for $20,000 over nine holes. I had $5,000 bet on the best ball match and Russ carried us this day, although I made a birdie on number 7, with a one handed putt, to put us up two holes on our original bet. An automatic press started, and Russ and I lost the eighth and ninth holes to lose one bet. Then Doyle and I went out and played for $10,000, with Dolly giving me 2-and-one-half shots over nine holes. I was killing the ball, reaching the par five 7th with driver, 9 iron. Doyle and I were close, when I called the match off on the 7th green. Russ was mad at me, saying that I was a huge favorite, and why wouldn't I gamble? Russ said, "You get a half shot on 8 and a shot on 9, what are you thinking?" I said, "Well, I thought that I would miss my ten footer on seven, and Dolly would make his 6 footer, and then I would be 'One down' going into those holes." After we called the bet off, I sunk my ten footer, oh well.

Wednesday-$1 million a hole baby!

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
Newsletterbanner Twitterbanner Fbbanner

Most Viewed Blogs