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Jerry Rice, Leinart, LA shoot, Jesus vs Ivey

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Apr 19, '10

Posted: April 19, 2010 03:11 PM

On Thurs night (April 7) I stayed in Vegas.  I mean, my suite at the Golden Nugget was too amazing to leave!  I slept in, worked out at the Golden Nugget spa (a beautiful spa!), and headed out to dinner with Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, and Robert and Cate Williamson.  After dinner we hit the Palazzo Suites for some live music; a dueling pianos deal.  Robert and Cate are my Kentucky Derby running mates each year, and my wife and I love them.  In fact we are hosting The Derby Poker Championships ( this year along with basketball legend Denny Crum.  The hottest party in Louisville on Thursday night!!

My great friend Chris Ferguson is really earning his nickname of "Jesus" as he is giving a ton of money to feed people in Africa.  And he isn't just writing checks.  He and his girlfriend Fabiola are personally making trips over to Africa to make sure that the money is being used the right way.  I am impressed with Ferguson, who despite being worth a fortune, still drives a modest car, and still lives in a modest apartment; his one splurge is on clothing.  Ferguson is truly happy: he likes his apartment, he likes his car (it runs perfectly), he gives serious money to charity, and he likes his life (he gets to play in all of the world's biggest poker tournaments).  Initially, I told Ferguson that he needs to buy a mansion in Vegas, a Net Jet share, and a million dollar car.  But Ferguson is a step ahead of me in that he understands that if he buys houses, cars, and jets, that his life will be complicated.  As it turns out my own wife is aligned with Ferguson's philosophy as they both believe that the more stuff that you own, the more stuff that owns you!  I mean, Ferguson says, "I am happy.  I have the best house in any city that I visit via a great hotel.  I am totally free!"  I mean, if you own eight houses, then you have to deal with each house, and all of the inherent issues that each one presents.  As someone that owns and rents out a few houses, I know that there are more than a few headaches; and I have someone that handles all of that for me.  Even if you have a house manager (like some of my billionaire friends do), you still have to deal with that person.

Of course, on the polar opposite side of this philosophy is Phil Ivey.  Right now there is a terrific article about Ivey in "Cigar Aficionado."  In fact, he graces the cover.  Ivey is spending cheese like the river Nile flows!  Ivey spends deca-millions on first rate houses in a couple of prime locations in the world.  Ivey flies around in private jets, and never in the small ones (I do not like the small ones myself, because it is like flying around in a loud tin can!).  Ivey stays in the best suites in the best hotels, and he routinely spends $2,500 or more on a bottle of wine with dinner.  Ivey goes to the best night clubs on the planet and he always has the VIP tables at those clubs, and he is not afraid to drop $20,000 or more on the table bill.  I love to party with Phil Ivey, but I also love to party with Chris Ferguson.

I guess that I am somewhere in between Ivey and Ferguson.  I give a ton of money, and a ton of my time to charities.  I have an amazing house in nor cal (but not a mansion), and I plan on buying a nice penthouse in Vegas in the next year or two.  I still drive a 10 year old Lexus, but I am not opposed to buying a used Rolls Royce Phantom (for like $220,000) in the near future.  I still fly primarily commercial, and although I used to believe that I would buy my own jet when I had $100 million in cash, I am now leaning against it.  Although, when I have that much cash I will not hesitate to fly in a G4 at $5,000 an hour!  I do not feel the urge to fly small private jets vs a first class seat on a commercial flight.  I like a nice suite, and these days I stay in an amazing suite at the Golden Nugget when I am in Vegas, but I do not need to stay in the best suite in the house when I am staying, say, in Manhattan.  I will not buy a yacht, but I will not be afraid to rent one once every year or two for $100,000 a week (with a few other couples).  I love my friend Carl Westcott's philosophy regarding houses: the three house system works well for him!  One in nor cal, one in Vegas, and third location to be determinedI guess I already have three, but rentals do not count.

In any case, I had a great time with Chris, Robert and Cate, and then I woke up on Friday and I flew to Phoenix for Matt Leinart's charity party and golf tournament the next day.  I stayed at the Phoenician Hotel, and that place is amazing!  At the party Friday night at the "W Hotel" I hung out with Layne Flack, his boy Warren, and the owner of the "W Hotel" Bob Agahi.  I lost $2,000 to Layne playing Wiii bowling, which was annoying considering that I have played it so much and Layne hasn't!  Of course, the only way I lose to a beginner is that I was way off of my game; I was trying to curve the ball too far.  I lost another $1,500 to Layne putting lefty (we both played with our weak hand), and then we smoked some cigars with Bob at his kick ass club next to the swimming pool upstairs.  Saturday I played golf and I caught a flight home, so that I could have a late dinner with my wife and spend Sunday watching the "Masters."  I bet $500 on Westwood to win $10,100, $500 on Poulter to win $17,500, and $500 on Harrington to win $9,000.  Westwood was leading going into Sunday, and Poulter was in the mix and had an outside chance to win.  And of course, you had Tiger and Phil in the mix.  No insurance this time!  Too bad I didn't insure my bet and go with Phil

On Tuesday I played golf in the celebrity pro-am at TPC Stonebrae for the Nationwide Tour.  There were four teams playing alternate shot: Bobby Gates (who is leading the money list on the Nationwide Tour) and bay area baseball legend J. T. Snow, Steve Pate and me, Jerry Rice (as a pro) and Joe Carter (Joe hit  walk off home run to WIN the World Series), and hockey Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr and James Hahn.  We also had the DJ's from KNBR announcing with speakers on a golf cart.  I played better than I was supposed to until I "Double hit" a two-and-a-half foot straight in putt (sounds like, "Click click") in front of the all of the assembled players, media and crowd.  How embarrassing!  I sent out the following riddle on my Twitter ( "How did I hit the ball four times in an alternate score format, and Steve pate and I make a six?"  Doyle Brunson believes that there is a penalty stroke involved, and he Tweeted something to that effect, but when we talked on the phone, neither of us was sure.  I then called my Kentucky Derby group member Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin, but he is in China, and in the hunt over there; in a European Tour event.  Next I tried Casey Martin, the Oregon Golf coach and former PGA Tour player who sued for the right to use a golf cart, and he had never heard of such a thing a "Double hit" putt!  He wasn't sure, but I would bet it just counts as two hits, not a penalty stroke because I watched T. C. Chen back in the US Open all of those years ago double hit a chip and I remember how it was scored
On Tuesday night I emceed and hosted a charity poker tournament at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley.  It was a nice success; we picked up over $50,000.  I had the microphone for four hours straight (it takes a lot out of me!).  There were a lot of Bay Area Celebs there including: Jerry Rice, Tom Tolbert, and J. T. Snow.  Sadly I had a tee time the next morning at 8:30 AM ; the only reason I set that time up was that I was supposed to shoot a video with Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx for Ludacris and Trey Weds night.  Luda was fine with me showing up at like 7:00 pm, and then we were going to go for dinner and some clubbing.  But they postponed it again.  So I slept like four hours, golfed the pro-am, and then headed home to chill.

Thursday I went to LA to shoot some footage for Thursday night I chilled in Santa Monica at Le Merigot Hotel with an ocean view suite, and I grabbed a quick dinner at "Sushi Roku."  Friday I went down to Huntington Beach to finish shooting the video and on Friday night I was going to head out to the hot new club "My House" with Chris Ferguson and Ray Bitar, but when they were running late, I ran out of steam and chilled in the room.

I wrote this on Saturday afternoon as I was sitting in the VIP Lounge at the Golden Nugget Hotel finishing this BLOG.  Lisa Pavin just texted me saying that I could follow Corey live at europeantour.comI am going to head up to my suite, and then grab a workout at the spa.  Now I am on Skype with Brandon Cantu watching him play a final table at UB; the $300 buy in biggest tourney of the day.  Cantu has some skillzzzz, baby!  Cantu and his girl Leslie, and "Joey" and I hitting "Vic and Anthonys" steak house later tonight.

Later tonight we may go out to a club, or perhaps I will chill in my suite, but tomorrow the $25,000 buy in WPT Championship begins, and right now I AM ALL ABOUT THE POKER!  I think I will come in at 6:00 pm tomorrow when the blinds are $200-$400; we start with $100,000 in chips, and you receive the full stack when you sit downGet "Live updates" on my Twitter!

Learn more about Phil at and visit his web store at

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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