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Poker loses a beloved legend

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Dec 11, '07


On Tuesday (Dec. 4) I was on the set of Annie Duke's and my new reality show when I heard that beloved poker legend, poker ICON, and Hall of Famer Chip Reese passed away. Almost everyone in the poker world knew that Chip was the best cash game poker player that had ever played the game. For thirty years Chip played in-and won big in--the biggest cash games in the world. No other player, other than Doyle Brunson, lasted at those limits that long. Chip was well liked by EVERYONE, and not one person anywhere has anything negative to say about Chip. On Friday, I rented a jet to fly to Vegas from Temecula, so that I wouldn't be late for the funeral. Even though Chip and I weren't best friends-I never lived in Vegas and didn't play the biggest game that often--I really liked him a ton, and I respected him and the way he handled his family and business. Simply put: there was no way that I was going to miss the funeral. I wanted to pay my respects to the man. I flew into Vegas, attended the funeral and the celebration of his life afterwards, and then flew out that night. I had to get home to see my wife and kids. The only bad thing was that I wanted to tell Chip's children that Chip talked about them often-he talked of coaching them, baseball, etc...-and give them my condolences. I didn't want to bother them at the funeral, and then I left before they arrived at the second gathering. Perhaps they'll read this or I'll see them this week in Vegas. I'm writing this from the jet (Citation) I rented to fly to Vegas (Tuesday, Dec. 11) for my party tonight (more on that later). Chip, we'll all miss you and the classy way that you handled yourself all these years.

Charity event, Busses Lakers box, Arnon, and reality TV

Saturday's charity tournament was a blast! Todd Brunson won the VIP event (and $39,000), and gave some back. Pretty sweet Todd, come out and support charity, get a double tax write off, and still make a pile of money! The final three from the $500 buy in tournament squared off with the final three from the $2,500 buy in VIP event for Super Bowl Tickets and an invite to the Playboy Super Bowl party. Afterwards we had a party in a Sky Suite at the Palms. Rick Smith, the CEO of Taser, and his brother Tom are a class act. Thanks to James Van Alstyne (fourth place), Todd and Pamela Brunson, Hoyt Corkins, Layne Flack, Rockers Scott Ian ("Anthrax") and Jerry Cantrell ("Alice and Chains"), Rick and Tom, Steve Zolotow, Andy Bloch, Lisa Wheeler, and a bunch of other pros (who will be mad at me cause I didn't mention them-I'm doing my best!) for attending and playing. The parties afterwards, at the "Playboy Club" and Rick's Sky Suite were pretty off the hook! We raised about $120,000 for the "Fallen Officers Foundation," and I view that as a failure. Next time $400,000!

On Sunday Rick and Tom let me use their jet to LA, and I invited Jerry Cantrell and Scott to fly with me. Then, right before we took off I called LA Laker's owner Jerry Buss and asked if I could sit in his box for the Laker's game vs. Orlando. Jerry gave me four front row seats in his box and made my day when he told me how proud he was of me. Both Jerry and his partner Frank Mariani made a point of telling me that they were proud of me. Thanks guys, you made my day! The box is the second best place to watch after the floor seats. But it may be better, as the box has a full bar, a chef, celebs (NFL Legend Eric Dickerson was there). Afterwards we went to the exclusive (you can only get in with a pass) "Chairman's Club" which is located right next to the locker room. I have seen the biggest stars in the world down there in past trips. Scott, his girlfriend Pearl Aday, and a friend joined me for the Laker's game. Speaking of which, the new band "Pearl" has an EP at iTunes that rocks!!!! Pearl is the lead singer and Scott plays the guitar-I will meet the rest of the band tonight (I still haven't landed in Vegas yet!). I stayed at my favorite hotel, the Loew's in Santa Monica.

I was so far behind on sleep (and still am) that I slept 13 hours Sunday night, grabbed a workout, and then went over to Arnon Milchan's LA house for some Dom Perignon. Hanging out with him and his wife Amanda is just too much fun. They're amazing people. On one hand they're world famous, and on the other hand they're down to earth in the important ways. I don't take sides in the writer's strike, as my new COO is a professional writer, and I respect Arnon so much. Both sides have good points. But let's get out of this line of logic quickly, I don't want anyone mad at me! My 90 minutes with the two of them was a blast (again!). I look up to Arnon, like I look up to Carl Westcott: I mean, here are two guys that have conquered the business world, but seem to know who they are and where they're from. Mad respect to them both for their accomplishments, but even more for the people that they are. Westcott invented the extended car warranty, and devised 1-800Flowers, then sold Westcott Communications for $500 million. Arnon owned a show called "Malcolm in the Middle," bought Puma for $180 million and sold it for nearly $5 billion, produced "LA Confidential," and produced over 100 films, many of which are amongst the most famous ever made.

Speaking of Carl Westcott, on Monday night I took a limo from Arnon's to Pechanga in Temecula to shoot the "Best damn poker Show." Monday night through Thursday we shot non-stop, and it will be a hit! Annie and I screaming at each other, arguing with each other, having a draft with a twist, having matches and strategy sessions will be great television. The one thing that I'm most proud of from the three days was when I approached some of the disgruntled players that didn't make the cut on the show. I simply wanted them to know that it wasn't my decision to do some of the stuff that we did. And I wanted to shake their hands and apologize for my part in it. What I ran into was a few of them screaming at me, and a lot of anger. Instead of being a coward, I faced it straight on. I listened patiently to the screaming, because they were right! 100% right, and their anger was justified. I talked it through with them all, and even though they were still a little steamed up, everyone shook my hand, and everyone even told me how much they respected me. Not because I gave them all of my shirts, hats, books, and DVD's that I wanted to bring home with me. But because I faced them head on, with respect, and acknowledged that they were right. I had UB put $500 a piece into their accounts, I gave them all the swag I had with me, I bought four bottles of Dom out of my own pocket, and I turned a negative into a positive. I earned all of their respect, and that's good enough for me.

FYI - were starting to land in Vegas and it is bumpy! It's always windy in Vegas.

The party tonight will be legendary. We have rented a Sky Suite ($11,000), and have "Pearl" playing tonight in the suite. We have camera crews everywhere, and you can watch some of it on Every poker legend (these pilots are good, smooth landing!) that I know will be there. We have rock stars, athletes, poker players, and more!! We have spent $30,000 on alcohol, but no Dom tonight. At $500 a bottle I said no. (I don't mind buying 60 bottles for $120 apiece, but the Palms is making us buy their stuff).

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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