Phil Hellmuth is a famous name in the world of professional poker. His reputation in the card game is so strong that he has won a record fifteen World Series of Poker bracelets running from 1989 to 2018. Hellmuth’s poker legacy includes his victories in the 1989 World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) Main Events. With total winnings in live tournaments exceeding $21,750,000, Phil Hellmuth ranks twelfth on the money list of all time.
Who is Phil Hellmuth the Pro Poker Player? – Bio
His overly competitive personality and temperament towards his opponents in the game earned him the nickname “Poker Brat”, and Hellmuth certainly adopted it to reflect the fact that he hates to lose a game. This makes us curious to know who this professional poker player really is.
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Phillip Jerome Hellmuth Jr. was born in Madison, Wisconsin on July 16, 1964, the first and oldest child with four younger siblings: Ann, David, Kerry, and Molly Hellmuth. His father, Phil Hellmuth Sr., was Dean of the University of Wisconsin, while his mother, Lynn Hellmuth, was a sculptor.
For someone who grew up in a devout Catholic family and whose parents are academics, Hellmuth was not the flash of inspiration his father expected of him. From Madison West High School to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which he dropped out of after three years, the living poker legend may not be good with academic grades, but he is great at playing cards.
His journey to the game of poker began with his grandmother, whom he described as the most spirited card player he ever faced. During his studies, Hellmuth often indulged in Texas Hold’em poker games against his classmates in the Student Union. By competing in tournaments, he earned enough money, and with $20,000 at the age of 21, he headed for Las Vegas.
Several months passed, and exactly 14 months later Phil Hellmuth lost all that money in the game. He commuted between working in the cornfields for a few months to raise more money and competing for higher prizes until he earned enough to stay stable in Nevada’s city.
With high hopes and dreams of becoming a regular in the World Series of Poker, Hellmuth played his first tournament in the 1988 World Series of Poker, where he finished 33rd after losing to Johnny Chan, who became champion that year. Despite this, he made a comeback the following year, 1989, and at 24 became the youngest player to win the WSOP Main Event and beat Chan. His record was broken 18 years later, in 2008, by Peter Eastgate (22 years old).
Hellmuth subsequently cashed in eight major events – 1988, 1989, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2009, and 2015 – became the second player in WSOP history to win three bracelets in a WSOP during the 1993 World Series of Poker, and is currently the proud wearer of fifteen World Series of Poker bracelets. He won his 15th WSOP on July 11, 2018, in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold ’em event, where he took home a whopping $485,082.
Phil won the 2005 National Heads-Up Poker Championship. In 2007, the legend was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, winning 14 amounts of cash and reaching five final tables on the World Poker Tour. His records at the WPT include: a fourth-place finish in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold ’em WPT event (2002); a third-place finish in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold ’em event at the World Poker Finals (2003); a sixth-place finish in the 2008 L.A. Poker Classic; a third-place finish in the 2010 Bay 101 Shooting Star event; a seventh-place finish in the $25,000 WPT World Championship; and a second-place finish in 2017 at the Bicycle Casino.
By 2017, Hellmuth had won over $1.5 million in WPT tournaments. Although he is known for his arrogant and cartoon-like outbursts of unsportsmanlike behavior after taking bad punches, Hellmuth said he was probably the most fun-loving guy off the poker table.
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Hellmuth, who is considered the world’s most decorated poker player, also appears as a player and commentator in episodes of Poker After Dark, which won its first tournament in the series in the first episode of season three. He walked away with $120,000 in prize money and won the same amount in the series two weeks later.
In 2000 and 2013, the poker champion competed for $106,250 and $300,000 in prize money after winning the Poker EM 7-Card Stud Main Event in Austria, beating 437 other players and finishing second in the National Heads-Up Poker Championship finals.
Beyond the game, he is the author of several poker books and instructional videos, including The Greatest Poker Hands ever Played, Poker Brat, Phil Hellmuth’s Million Dollar Poker System, and Ultimate White To Black Belt Course. He was also part of the team that developed the software for UltimateBet.
Wife and Family
Phil Hellmuth and his wife Katherine Sanborn married on March 31, 1990, and had two sons, Philip III and Nicholas. The family lives in Palo Alto, California. Katherine is a psychiatrist and works full-time at Stanford University. Apart from being there for his family, the poker brat is known for generously donating his quarters to society through charities.