Phil Hellmuth arrived on time for Day 2 of Event #28. That was unusual since he almost always arrives late in true Hellmuthian fashion. Even Greg "FBT" Mueller had to say something.
"How come you are not two hours late today?" asked Mueller.
Hellmuth smiled and shrugged his shoulders. Perry Friedman and Steve Dannenmann stopped by to wish him luck while Hellmuth listened to his iPod and unbagged his chips.
"I know you don't make the money often," joked Friedman. "You can't use iPods when were in the money."
Since the money bubble broke the night before, Hellmuth cashed in his 60th event, which is a WSOP record. He already set the record for bracelets a week earlier when he picked up #11 and he was trying to tie TJ Cloutier for WSOP final tables with 39.
Hellmuth's table happened to be right in front of the media table which was both entertaining and a sincere burden. Hellmuth has a magnetic personality that attracts all sorts of individuals such as the curious, the haters, the fans, and every media member inside a five hundred foot radius. That meant out tiny corner of the Amazon ballroom was jam packed as everyone watched The Phil Hellmuth Show. Some were waiting for him to go on mega tilt and berated his opponents or perhaps kick over a chair. Other hoped he'd utter more classic Hellmuthian vernacular like he did in 2005 when he told his wife in front of ESPN's cameras, "I can dodge bullets baby."
Me? I get goosebumps when Hellmuth refers to himself in the third person such as "Phil Hellmuth is the greatest Hold'em player in the history of poker."
Hellmuth's table ended up being a doozy. He had Beth Shak to his left, the wife of pro Dan Shak. Like a true East Coaster, she's mentally tough and doesn't take shit from nobody including Hellmuth or any of the internet hotshots that tried to tilt her like Luke Vrabel.
Also at Hellmuth's table was chipleader Feng Chen. About an hour into Day 2 she told us that she wanted to be called Tsai Chen. I have no idea why but I granted her that wish. She was an elderly Asian woman with a motor mouth. Even Hellmuth could not keep up with her barbs. She was capable of playing any two cards and always seemed to have a monster when someone attempted to pick off one of her bluffs.
About ninety minutes into Day 2, Luke Vrabel was moved to Hellmuth's table and that's when their two volatile personalities clashed. Hellmuth had a tough enough time keeping the attention on him with the lovely Beth Shak to his left and the Yoda-like musings of Tsai Chen in Seat 9. During his verbal diarrhea, Hellmuth mentioned a few gems such as...
"Another day, another million dollars."
"Muckit is a small town in Northern Alaska."
"I'm so good sometimes, I amaze myself."
"Phil Hellmuth never bluffs."
When Luke Vrabel, the wise-cracking internet kid with a severe case of ADD, was moved to the table, Hellmuth realized the need to step up his act. He had spectators standing seven deep on the rail and more than a dozen media encircling his table snapping photos and recording his every word as it was sagely advice from Buddha himself. It was showtime and Hellmuth seized the spotlight.
Vrable had nothing to lose and everything to gain by picking on Hellmuth. I dunno if the kid took advantage of that situation on the fly or if he's just a cocky dude. Regardless, he jumped right into the fight and started ragging on Hellmuth and giving lip to Chen. The kid did not stop talking the entire time as he riffed on a multitude of topics ranging from why his girlfriend was infatuated with ARod's ass and why PokerStars is rigged.
After a player raised, Luke Vrabel shoved all in and William Burdick went into the tank before he called. The first player folded as Vrabel turned up 10s-10c while Burdick showed Ac-Qd. Hellmuth immediately disapproved of Vrabel's play as the dealer spread out the flop of the Ah-8s-2d. Vrabel jumped out of his chair and turned around. He walked away from the table towards the rail. The turn was the 2s and when the 10d spiked on the river, everyone at his table let out a collective "Ooooooooooooh!" Vrabel busted Burdick when he rivered a two-outer. That pot pushed Vrabel's stack to 199K which was more than what Hellmuth had.
"Terrible play kid. Shoving with tens like that. Keep it up," needled Hellmuth.
After Vrabel stole his blinds for the second time Hellmuth said, "Keep stealing. They steal and steal and steal and before you know it, Phil Hellmuth has all the chips. It happens every day. They keep coming trying to take down the best int he world and they end up going broke. You're playing against a world champion."
Vrabel ignored Hellmuth's barbs and jawed back."This is pretty cool. I'm playing at the same table as the greatest player in the world. This is something I'll tell my grandkids. Of course they'll say 'Who is Phil Hellmuth?' because by then everyone will forget about you."
Vrabel won a pot off of Hellmuth which set him on tilt. After he lost the hand, Hellmuth jumped up and cursed underneath his breath. He paced around his table like a sad puppy as railbirds whipped out that cameras and tried to capture shots of the poker giant sliding into the deepest depths of utter tiltdom.
Five minutes after the hand, Hellmuth still steamed.
"This kid has no chance to win the tournament," he said to no one in particular. "He called my raise with J-9. The sucker calls with J-9. Can you believe that? Terrible poker."
"Come on Phil, it's just one hand," taunted Vrabel. "I took 35K off you and I'll do it again. If that's terrible. I'll keep playing like that."
Ten minutes later, a floor supervisor came over with a seat change card.
"Nooooooooooo!" screamed Hellmuth after he was informed that he was getting moved.
"I was just ready to double up against this guy," Hellmuth said as he pointed to Vrabel. "Check with me in two hours when you're busted and I'm still in."
"Phil Hellmuth, you're my third favorite pro behind my girlfriend and Evelyn Ng."
Evelyn Ng was moved to their table thirty minutes earlier. She sat in between Hellmuth and Vrabel while she caught an earful. Former SNL Weekend Update anchor Norm MacDonald played in the vent and eventually busted out in 20th place. He survived a tough field and hung on with a short stack most of the day. Without a doubt, Norm is my second most favorite SNL WU anchor aside from Dennis Miller. Tina Fey comes in a distant third.
When the action got down to 18 players, Hellmuth was the short stack and moved back to Vrabel's table. The two continued their sparring. When Vrabel opened up for a 40K raised, Hellmuth jammed the pot and moved all in. Vrabel mucked saying he folded A-10. Hellmuth showed A-K.
"Phil Hellmuth doesn't bluff," Helllmuth said.
Despite a short stack, Hellmuth played disciplined poker and picked the right spots to make moves. He admitted that he got no cards yet managed to be one of the last ten players. Usually, WSOP final tables are nine-handed with a few exceptions. That was one of them. I had only seen that happen once before... in 2005 when Hellmuth was short-stacked for a PLO event and they suspended play at ten so Hellmuth could have some TV time at the ESPN final table. It might be the Hellmuth Rule but makes sense if you're ESPN. At least it's not in Bluff's Black Hole.
Men the Master played in the Razz event a few tables over. He wandered over and protested.
"WSOP final tables are nine players. Why is it ten?" he said. "Why are you making an exception for Phil Hellmuth. This is not fair."
Event #28 Final Table Seating Assignments and Chip Counts:After the event ended, Hellmuth blew off Bluff's attempt to get an interview as he sat next to his wife. Michael Craig wandered over to ask a few questions. I walked over and wanted to get a clarification on some stats.
Seat 1: Phil Hellmuth - 213,000
Seat 2: Luke Vrabel - 315,000
Seat 3: Ben Fineman - 272,000
Seat 4: Dustin Holmes - 1,076,000
Seat 5: Jason Song - 284,000
Seat 6: Brett Richey - 738,000
Seat 7: Daniel Corbin - 210,000
Seat 8: Shankar Pillai - 371,000
Seat 9: Perry Friedman - 723,000
Seat 10: Beth Shak - 740,000
"How many final tables have you made at the WSOP?" I asked.
"I didn't know the number until Nolan Dalla told me I started the year with 39, two behind TJ (Cloutier). I made one and I'm close to tying him. I haven't made the final table... yet. I have one more bustout to go."
When I asked him about having a short stack, Hellmuth shrugged it off.
"Listen up, Phil Hellmuth is the best Hold'em player in the world. My 213K in chips is worth twice as much as their stacks. It's doubled. I'm closer to 426K. All I have to do is double up once and I have one million."
I didn't want to point out that in reality it would only be 426K. But Hellmuth was on a roll and giving me five minutes of his time so I kept my mouth shut.
"The players are so bad that they'll give me their chips. Phil Hellmuth is going for number twelve."
Bouncin Round the Room on Day 18
Eskimo Clark did a nose dive in the middle of Day 2 of the Razz event. Lance over at the Poker Biz and Wicked Chops Poker had good pieces on what went down. After collapsing in the Poker Sauna last week, Eskimo was back playing in the Razz event. He suffered two episodes on Monday and shook both off to make it to the final table. I also heard he was shot twice in the parking lot and shanked near the pisser behind the Poker Sauna. The guy is really bulletproof or he must really be stuck. He probably should be at home resting and watching the History Channel. Instead he's made a final table and is close to winning a bracelet. He'll have to survive a difficult final table with Men the Master, Katja Thater (her second final table in 2007), 2005 WSOP Razz Champion O'Neil Longson, and Australia's Mark Vos.
Since it's Liz Lieu Tiesdays how about a stealth shot of Liz's back tattoo taken by one of our photographers:
The other day, I was walking through the valet when The Grinder rolled up in his wine-colored BMW. Some of the valet guys were bitching about how some of the pros didn't tip. "All they have is $100 bills," one said. "The last thing they want to do is break a big bill for a valet tip. So we get stiffed."
Check out Benjo's blog. It's in French and I can understand about 50% of it.
Vinnie Vinh advanced to Day 2 of Event #30 $2,500 NL Short-handed. He's one of 42 players left. We'll see if he decides to show up and play or if he locks himself in a roach motel in North Las Vegas and go on a three-day crank bender. I'll be covering that event for Poker News. Click here to view live coverage of Day 2 of Event #30 $2,500 NL Short-handed.
Stella Count at the Tilted Kilt: 26
The Last 5 Pros I Pissed Next To...
1. Chad Brown
2. Steve Dannennman
3. Bill Chen
4. Minh Ly
Don't forget to check out LasVegasVegas for Flipchip's WSOP photos. And come back at the Tao of Poker for daily recaps and head over at PokerNews for live coverage and updates including chipcounts.
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