Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments Casino News Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Norman Chad Scolds Phil Hellmuth For 'Reprehensible' WSOP Final Table Behavior

The Poker Brat's Latest Score Was Marred By Another F-Bomb Outburst


Phil Hellmuth is on fire, having made four deep runs already at the 2021 World Series of Poker, with three final tables and $235,000 in combined earnings.

Unfortunately for the 15-time bracelet winner, his results have been overshadowed by a profanity-laced tirade at Monday’s $10,000 Stud Championship final table where he threatened to set fire to the building.

“I think I’m gonna burn this f***ing place down if I don’t win this f***ing tournament,” Hellmuth said after suffering a bad beat to eventual tournament winner Anthony Zinno.

Although he was quick to clarify that he was joking and that he “would never be violent,” Hellmuth’s tilt-induced rant went on for nearly 15 minutes into the next break, and continued until he was ultimately eliminated in fourth place.

“F***ing punish me? He pops me on the f***ing turn with a diamond draw and an ace. There’s like one ace left. F**k! How does he get rewarded for that bullshit f***ing play? They f***ing overplay their hands against me. That’s why I win all these f***ing tournaments. Miracle f***ing river. God dammit, what the f**k is going on here?”

At one point, Hellmuth stood up and mucked his cards off the table, telling his opponents that he was “playing like a genius” before stopping just shy of saying he “deserved” to win his 16th WSOP title.

The hand that set Hellmuth off occurred during six-handed play. Zinno was the bring-in with the (ADiamond Suit10Diamond Suit)6Diamond Suit and Hellmuth completed with split queens. Zinno reraised, and then stayed aggressive with his diamond draw which got there on the river.

The meltdown was all caught on cameras as the event was being broadcast on PokerGO.

The WSOP’s Norman Chad, who was in the broadcast booth with Jeff Platt, sympathized with the Poker Brat’s bad beat, but was quick to admonish him for his behavior.

Norman Chad“Even if you are the best on the planet right now, everything you have done since the end of that hand has been completely reprehensible and unacceptable. It’s absurd. Nobody else would be able to get away with this. You talk about reforming yourself time and again, and time and again when push comes to shove, we get this BS. Other players should not be the victim of this type of abuse at the table.”

“This Jekyll and Hyde thing cannot continue,” Chad added. “He’s 57 years old!”

While Poker Hall of Famer and fifth-place finisher Jack McClelland did his best to calm Hellmuth down with jokes, the rest of the table was largely silent about the outburst and the Tournament Director was never called over to issue a penalty. (Ironically, McCelland was the WSOP TD in the ’80s and has issued several penalties to Hellmuth over the years.)

Numerous poker pros reacted with criticism for tournament officials for not stepping in to protect Zinno and the others from the verbal abuse, while some suggested that the players may have been enjoying the outburst, or at least tolerating it for the cameras.

So why does Hellmuth, who has been known for such behavior, get such a long leash? In fact, many players consider it a badge of honor to be berated by Hellmuth.

Bracelet winner Daniel Strelitz posted a poll on Twitter, asking the poker community how they would like Hellmuth to react if they ever had a chance to suck out on him. Roughly 65 percent of the nearly 600 respondents said they would be “disappointed” for “missing out” on a Hellmuth blow up. Only 21 percent said they would not want to experience it.

Zinno himself was able to shrug it off as just Phil being Phil.

“Hellmuth’s overall poker game is phenomenal,” Zinno told PokerNews reporters after the win. “It’s so underrated by a lot of the poker community. They just don’t know what it’s like to sit and play… with Hellmuth. He’s so honed in. Playing with someone that’s a Hall of Famer, that’s one of the best in the world, is an honor in itself. He went crazy when I hit my hand, but I love it. I get a kick out of it. He’ll never make me mad. He knows it.”

Zinno, of course, is a three-time bracelet winner and three-time WPT champion who has had plenty of experience with Hellmuth at the table. But others in the past have not taken too kindly to Hellmuth’s antics, which has led to some notable confrontations over the years.

For his part, Hellmuth has since apologized, admitting he “went too far.”

The Poker Community Reacts