Phil Hellmuth, Jr. is widely regarded as one of the best tournament poker players in the world. He has live poker tournament cashes dating back to 1987, and total winnings in excess of $25.2 million. More than $15.5 million of that impressive sum stems from the World Series of Poker (WSOP) where Hellmuth has won a record 16 gold bracelets.
Known as "The Poker Brat" due to the frequency of his often expletive-filled rants about bad beats and his opponents’ dubious plays against him, Hellmuth’s table talk often overshadows his undeniable poker ability. However, Hellmuth, a fully-fledged member of the Poker Hall of Fame, has legendary status in the poker community, and rightly so.
Hellmuth is a polarizing character due to his incessant trash talk, huge self-belief, and his often unorthodox playing style. However, there is no denying the Poker Brat’s ability; you do not win 16 WSOP bracelets without knowing your way around a poker tournament.
Never one to do things by halves, Hellmuth’s first WSOP bracelet came in 1989 when he took down the $10,000 Main Event. The then 24-year-old Hellmuth became the youngest-ever winner of the WSOP Main Event, a record he held until Peter Eastgate (22) won in 2008.
Hellmuth has since gone on to win 15 additional bracelets and is the only player in history to have won at least one WSOP bracelet in every decade from the 1980s to the 2020s.
Hellmuth resides in Palo Alto, California, but was born in Madison, Wisconsin. He attended Madison West High School before studying t the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hellmuth drooped out of university after three years and became a full-time poker player.
Hellmuth and his with, Katherine (Kathy), who is a psychiatrist at Stanford University, have two sons, Phillip III and Nicholas.
World Series of Poker
Although Hellmuth has competed on the biggest stage worldwide, it is his amazing results at the World Series of Poker that he is best-known for. He is rapidly approaching 200 WSOP cashes and has, of course, 16 bracelets.
Hellmuth won the 1989 WSOP Main Event after defeating Johnny Chan heads-up. Chan is another poker legend, who currently owns ten WSOP bracelets. Hellmuth was only 24-years-old when he won the WSOP Main Event, making him the youngest-ever champion. He held that record until 2008 when Denmark’s Peter Eastgate won poker’s biggest prize, aged 22-years-old.
The Poker Brat proved his Main Event victory was not a flash in the pan by winning his second bracelet in 1992, doing so in the $5,000 Limit Hold’em event. The following year saw Hellmuth secure three more bracelets, to become only the second player in history to win a trio of bracelets at a single series; Walter "Puggy" Pearson achieved this in 1973. Amazingly, Hellmuth’s three bracelets came on three consecutive days.
WSOP victories kept coming Hellmuth’s way, and he locked in his tenth bracelet in 2006 when he won the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em with rebuys tournament. That tenth bracelt tied Hellmuth with Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson.
A year later, Hellmuth became the only player in history to win 11 bracelets after triumphing in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event.
Hellmuth had to wait four years for his next bracelet. He won the $2,500 Seven-Card Razz event in 2012 for his first bracelet in a non-hold’em event. The same year, Hellmuth became the first player in history to win both the WSOP Main Event and the WSOP Europe Main Event, which netted him his 13th piece of poker jewelry.
Further victories in 2015, 2018, and most recently in 2021 where Hellmuth reeled in the $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw title, took the legend’s bracelet tally to an almost unbelievable 16.
Phil Hellmuth's WSOP Bracelet Wins
|1989||$10,000 WSOP Main Event||$755,000|
|1992||Event #8: $5,000 Limit Hold'em||$188,000|
|1993||Event #7: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em||$173,000|
|1993||Event #8: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em||$161,400|
|1993||Event #9: $5,000 Limit Hold'em||$138,000|
|1997||Event #15: $3,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em||$204,000|
|2001||Event #3: $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em||$316,550|
|2003||Event #12: $2,500 Limit Hold'em||$171,400|
|2003||Event #32: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em||$410,860|
|2006||Event #34: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em||$631,863|
|2007||Event #15: $1,500 No Limit Hold'em||$637,25|
|2012||Event #18: $2,500 Seven Card Razz||$182,793|
|2012||WSOPE €10,000 Main Event||€1,022,376 ($1,333,841)|
|2015||Event #17: $10,000 Razz Championship||$271,105|
|2018||Event #71: $5,000 No Limit Hold’em||$485,082|
|2021||Event #31: $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw||$84,851|
World Poker Tour
It is not only the WSOP where Hellmuth shines because he has some impressive statistics relating to his play in World Poker Tour (WPT) tournaments. Almost 20 in-the-money finishes and five final table appearances have seen Hellmuth win almost $1.6 million on the WPT. He came close to winning a WPT title at the 2017 WPT Legends of Poker, but lost heads-up to Artur Papazyan and had to make do with a runner-up finish.
Phil Hellmuth's Top 5 WPT Results
|2017||WPT Legends of Poker||2nd||$364,370|
|2003||WPT World Finals||3rd||$281,700|
|2008||WPT L.A. Poker Classic||6th||$229,820|
|2010||WPT World Championship||7th||$152,856|
|2007||WPT World Championship||18th||$123,760|
The now-defunct Ultimate Bet used to sponsor Hellmuth. He was an early investor in the site and a minority owner but cut ties after the Ultimate Bet/Absolute Poker scandal broke.
Hellmuth is often seen sporting Aria casino apparel whenever he is at the poker tables. He has his own PH brand, too.
Did you know?
- Off the felt, Hellmuth has authored a trio poker books: Phil Hellmuth's Texas Hold 'Em, Bad Beats and Lucky Draws: Poker Strategies, Winning Hands, and Stories from the Professional Poker Tour, and Play Poker Like the Pros.
- Since 2007 Phil Hellmuth made a couple of memorable WSOP entrances. The first time he appeared at the Rio dressed as race car driver, then he showed up as a General Patton, Caesar, and an MMA fighter.
- Hellmuth has a reputation for buying into WSOP events much later than the advertized start time
- Hellmuth’s loyal wife, Kathy, is usually present at her husband’s WSOP final tables, and tries to act as a calming influence.