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Return to the Sacred - Phil burn out - Team Poker w/ Buss and Mouth

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Mar 25, '09

Posted: March 25, 2009 11:40 AM

"Return to the Sacred" by Jonathan Ellerby is an amazing book!  In March, 2008 I was feeling super stressed out, and super burned out, by the dual pressures of trying to be one of the greatest poker players in history, and dealing with the fame factor that drives so many celebs over the edge.  I was starting to melt down and it was affecting my health (a little bit), and I couldn't figure out why.  I mean, I had the poker records, the fortune, the fame, the wonderful wife, the great kids, the 12 million "Milwaukee's Best" beer cans coming with my picture and likeness, the NYT bestselling book ("Play Poker like the Pros"), one million subscribers on my "Phil Hellmuth's Texas Hold'em" cell phone game, a column in 40 newspapers, a piece of 18 different companies, I was on television every day, and I had much, much more.  So what was the problem?  Why do so many celebs with so much wealth and success melt down? 

Well, first my wife convinced me to go to "Canyon Ranch" in Tuscon with her, which is the world's leading health spa, for one week.  Then I called my friends at Taser and borrowed their jet for the ride down there.  My wife and I joined the "Life enhancement" program, although I insisted on renting one of the best houses on campus.  I thought, "If we were going to spend $18,000 for the week, then why not spend $30,000 and go in luxurious style?"  Since I was starting to feel horrible around my chest and stomach (just for three or four days, thank god!), I ordered every test under the sun, and when my health scores came back "Perfect" (across the board, yes!), I knew that this physical unrest was all related to the mental side of the coin. 

One day I attended a Jonathan Ellerby workshop, and he hit the spot!  Ellerby broke down our lives, and I understood that I was living too much in my persona and not enough in myself.  Yes, that tall guy dressed head to toe in black, with a black and gold PH hat on, with an IPOD that you see at the airport, and stare at, is the "Poker brat," but I am Phil Hellmuth as well.  The "Poker brat" drinks Dom Perignon in the VIP section of the hottest clubs, hangs with the world's biggest celebs and beautiful women with security guards close by, still manages to stay loyal to his wife, and signs autographs and takes pictures with fans every single day. 

The "Poker brat" wins major poker tournaments, whines about amateurs that outdraw him through poor play, mouths off on ESPN, plays high stakes poker at where he whines too much in the chat box, and says things like, "If it weren't for luck, I'd win em all!"  But Phil Hellmuth jr. is a family man who likes to stay at home in Palo Alto with his wife and his two sons, write his books and columns at the coffee shop or in his study, do interviews over the phone, watch "Heroes," "Life," "Lost," "The Closer," and sports on TV, manage his "Poker brat" clothing company [] and "Phil's House" publishing company, and live in relative peace.

Ellerby taught me that when I stare at someone who is staring at me, that they notice it, even when I have sunglasses on, and that causes them to stop in their tracks.  So now when I walk through an airport, I focus on the endpoint that I am walking towards, and then I don't notice all of the stares, comments, and people that stop dead in their tracks when they see me.  Ellerby taught me that I was living too much in my "Poker brat" persona.  Once he correctly diagnosed what I was going through, my health (which was only messed for a few scary days) came all the way back in a day or two.  Of course, having 14 vials of blood drawn to have every test we could think of done, and then having it come back in near perfect scores was helpful.  I did find out that I do need to eat less sugar and more fruit every day.  Ellerby is basically a spiritual genius, and this book will help everyone that picks it up and reads it!

Final Cover

This weekend I will be playing in the "Team poker" tournament Saturday at Caesar's Palace with two teammates: Mike "the Mouth" Matusow, and Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss.  We have black and yellow jerseys that look like my UB Jersey, and on the back I chose the name, "The Favorites."  And that says it all!

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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