Las Vegas, NV
Love him or hate him, but Phil Hellmuth sells newspapers.... well, if there were actually newspapers still left in America.
As someone who gets paid to generate web content, my job is much easier when it involves Phil Hellmuth. My personal thoughts on Phil Hellmuth? I'm indifferent. I can never tell of we're seeing the Phil Hellmuth Show or the Phil Hellmuth Reality Show. But by now, I don't care. I just sit back and enjoy the show. Because you know what, Hellmuth is a gravy train. So many of us are parasites who ride his coattails around the world and make money just from recording his every move.
And for that, I love Phil Hellmuth, a postmodern Shakespearean tragedy, but with his own reality show.
Difficulties often arise when attempting to find an interesting and compelling story at the WSOP that can appeal to a broad audience... and then do that every single day without repeating yourself. That's why any event involving Phil Hellmuth is huge, like a Hollyweird starlet stumbling out of a club and start puking in front of the paparazzi. All you have to do is watch, listen, and record... everything.
Hellmuth sells. He's Marlboro. Coca-cola. Apple. He's one of the most popular brands in poker, especially at the WSOP, and not shy about reinforcing the fact that he has a world record 11 bracelets.
Hellmuth has haters, probably ten times as many fans, but the haters want to know what he's doing more then his fans. Haters obsess over negativity. It's their drug that they thrive on in order to stay alive. The more stupid shit that Hellmuth does, the more his haters want to know about it.
If you are easily entertained by sensationalism, then all I have to do is write "Hellmuth" and you start drooling. Let's not forget about the loyal legion of Hellmuth fans who are made up of...
1. A devout following of true believers, and eerily one step away from swallowing the Kool-aide and a Jonestown Massacre.On Day 8, the most railbirds in the Amazon Ballroom were roped off along the red section and cluttered in front of Hellmuth's table. With three tables remaining on Day 3 of Event #8 Donkament, each elimination put Hellmuth one step closer to his 12th bracelet. They crowd stood five deep in some places, which was impressive because both Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson were seated nearby (and later on at the same table) for the re-start of the 10K Stud Championship. I hid my badge and embedded myself on the rail, packed with tourists in golf shirts, NASCAR hats, and a couple of really excited Italian guys who talked a mile a minute.
2. School yard bullies.
3. Life long Mike's Hard Lemonade-drinking incorrigibles who root for the bad guys in pro wrestling matches.
4. Wanna be wise guys like you see on the Sopranos and in mobster movies.
5. Gen-X self-loathing hipsters and twisted nerds, who secretly wanted to see Darth Vader slice Luke Skywalker into two pieces at the end of Empire Strikes Back.
A flow of reporters checked in on Hellmuth's table inside of the ropes. The media were intensely curious on potentially one of the biggest stories of the 2010 WSOP... but it was still not really front page material until Hellmuth made the final table.
One guy, three back on the rail, stood on his tippie toes and raised up his camera phone. He took a photo, inspected his shot, deleted it, and tried again. He repeated that process three times before he gave up.
A guy holding hands with his girlfriend strolling by saw the commotion on the rail. His girlfriend was barely five feet tall and she poked him in the ribs.
"I can't see, who are they looking at?" she asked.
"Yeah, that guy who yells at people."
"Oh, that jerk?" she said as she fumbled through her purse and dug out a disposable camera. "Can you get me a picture?"
I didn't know they still made disposable cameras. Anyway, he compiled with her request, and slid his way as close as he could to the rail. He snapped a photo, a quick flash went off, and one of the floor guys barked, "No flash."
Hellmuth didn't mind the flash. It meant that fans were snapping his photo. The more photos he took, the more powerful he became.
I got my mind on my money, got my money on my mind...
Hellmuth's Feng-shui master told him to wear more green to improve his energy force, which is why he showed up on Day 1 of the 50K in a bright green polo shirt underneath his gangsta black leather jacket. Hellmuth didn't wear a green shirt on Friday, which meant his Feng-shui was out of balance, ergo, he failed to advance to the final table.
With two tables to go, Hellmuth lost a sizable pot to Max Weinberg, who was a doppleganger for Snake from Wicked Chops Poker. Hellmuth went out not too much later. I was on the rail scouting the action when Max's crew arrived to sweat him with a case of Bud Lime cans and a case of Beast Lite. They weren't fucking around. Twenty four cans for three of them. They were going to need them while sweating Max all the way to the final table.
Hellmuth busted out in 15th place. One of the tourists in a Jeff Gordon hat asked me how much money Hellmuth won.
"I dunno," I said. "I don't think it matters to him."
"You know what," said the tourist, "Hellmuth doesn't care about the money. He just wants to win the bracelets. He's a dick, but I respect him for always playing to win."
Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 8...
Friday night is always amateur night in Las Vegas. I always expect things to be a little saucier on the weekends, especially with the high consumption of beverage were involved. Not to mention another running of the donks in the Pavilion.
Event #11 Donkament Day 1: According to the Part Time Poker crew, Phil Ivey was getting a lot of guff from everyone because of his shiny black jacket. When the TD ribbed Ivey, he had had enough and snapped back, "How are you giving me shit about my jacket when you've been wearing the same fucking suit for ten years."
Event #12 Limitament Day 1: Liz Lieu was playing at a table on the rail so it was easy to sweat her. We talked about her sick cat. I wandered through the crowd, saw John (blogger from back in the day and I play cash games online with him). He was sitting at Neverwin's table. I made the rounds and noticed that it smelled pretty bad. Overall. Worst smelling event of the day. I scribbled down that puzzling note when I saw a tweet from Liz Lieu, "Are players allowed to remove their shoes while playing?" She took some bad beats at her table and got stuck next to a guy with stinky feet. I would have called the floor if that happened to me, only because it was feet. Isn't there a rule about that about having to be somewhat hygienic?
Event #8 Donkament: At the final table, a huge crowd gathered and hovered above from the beef jerky lounge. It was a festive atmosphere of a hundred or so strong. From across the room a bunch of shouting erupted followed by chanting. Must be Brazilians, I thought. Sure enough, every single Brazilian in the state of Nevada was in the room sweating Daniel Wjuniski. As per usual, like I've seen at so many tournaments on the LAPT in South and Central America, or event at the WSOP, whenever a Brazilian makes a final table, everyone comes a running. A street party ensues with serious booze-mainlining fueling spontaneous chants of soccer fight songs. Plus a group of French-Canadians were also on the rail doing shots of vodka and sweating eventual winner Pascal LeFrancois. Mix in rowdy Brazilians, drunken Queebs, and a Friday night Vegas crowd, and the Amazon Ballroom is saucy, randy, and outright fun to be in. Too bad Hellmuth didn't make that final table. There would have been 600 people watching the spectacle.
Event #9 PLHament: Congrats to the DonkeyBomber. Another min-cash, but a cash nonetheless. I can always find DB and glad he wears them because he sticks out in a crowd with is pants. With two tables to go, three women remained which was important since a woman had yet advance to a final table. Melissa Hayden went deep, but busted in 13th, whiel Julie Farkas bubbled off the final table in 10th place. JJ Liu became the first woman to make a final table this summer. It's her turn to carry the torch for the Year of the Woman, and she's third in chips.
James Dempsey is second in chips and I indirectly have money on him to win a bracelet. Snoopy suggested that Dempsey is one of the up and coming young British pros to keep an eye on this summer. I made a prop bet yesterday morning that a Brit would win another bracelet in 2010 and I must be running good because twelve hours later, a Brit makes a final table. Looks like I'll have some sweat equity on Saturday for the conclusion of the PLHament..
Event #10 $10K Stud Day 2: At one point, Ivey and Tex Dolly were at the same table in Stud. Ivey was two-tabling and playing different events in between breaks. During Stud, he had a serving of fruit and an Odwalla smoothie under his seat. That's what fuels Ivey. Well, that and the huge bracelet prop bet he has with Lederer which has been getting him to the Rio and playing in as many bracelet events as possible.
When Stud ended Day 2, 12 players still remained and will return on Saturday to play down to a champion. Both the Grinder and Vlad the Russian Banker are still alive and atop of the leaderboard. Plenty of familiar names left like Joe Cassidy, MrSmokey1, Men the Master, Nikolay Evdakov, Brandon Adams, November Nine Eric Buchman, and Dan Heimiller who is seeking his second final table this WSOP.
Look at this picture of bracelet winner Freddy Ellis and Texas Dolly...
Century's worth of poker
Astute observation from the European press. I suggested it might be more like 110 years. Maybe more. Dolly has been playing poker since the 1950s and Ellis since the 60s.
Cliche of the Day: In the Stud event, Mike Matusow was discussing his daily Adderall intake with his tablemates.
The photos and cliche are courtesy of Benjo.