Phil Hellmuth Reflects on WSOP's Past and Future

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the WSOP and the 30th anniversary of Phil Hellmuths WSOP Main Event victory.

By: Charles Rettmuller

That realization isn't lost on the Poker Brat. Nor is the fact that the final day of the 2019 WSOP Main Event falls on Phil's 55th birthday.

Hellmuth would like nothing more than to celebrate his upcoming birthday with his second WSOP Main Event title. With a huge turnout expected this year, he may have to overcome nearly 8,000 players to do so.

With this summer's festival edging closer, the Poker Brat reflected on the WSOP, looking back on the history as well as speculating on the future.

Cherished Memories

"When I came the first time, I didn’t really know much about poker," Hellmuth told PokerNews. "I heard people talking about this thing called the World Series, but I didn’t really know what it meant."

Of course, he knows what it means now. He's won 15 gold bracelets in those 30 years and he's hoping to add about nine more before Father Time catches up with him.

Phil's Main Event title in 1989 was good for $755,000. The fresh-faced 24-year-old defeated 178 entrants, including the legendary Johnny Chan heads-up. Chan was vying for this third consecutive WSOP Main Event championship.

"I kept telling people that I’d win the Main Event in 1989 and I did it,” Hellmuth said.

A Charmed Life

The Poker Brat cashed in four WSOP events before his Main Event victory, including 5th place in $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Split and 33rd place in the Main Event in 1988. Three decades later, Hellmuth remains as brash as ever on the poker tables, but knows full well that he's been blessed.

“My number one blessing is my health," Phil added. "My number two blessing is the wife and kids and their health. Number three is my WSOP bracelets, and number four is financial security.”

While Hellmuth has his health, the same can't be said for the Rio - home to the WSOP since 2005. Rumors have swirled regarding a possible sale and a subsequent demolition, which would mean a move to a new locale.

"I think it’s a great venue," said the Poker Brat. "I love it, and I’d miss the Rio - I was around when we had the WSOP at the Horseshoe."

Phil will be around no matter where the festival is played, aiming for bracelet no. 16 and beyond.


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