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Old Yesterday, 03:50 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 1
How Phil Hellmuth made me famous

Quick summary: Story of a poker road trip that ended up sitting at a table with Phil Hellmuth, Fedor Holz and Paul Newey

How Phil Hellmuth made me famous ...somehow

I guess the feeling of being famous comes around not by just reading your name in the news, but when you are recognized by strangers. And this only happened to me once in my life. Once I had my 15 minutes of fame. Okay, it was more like 15 seconds, but it definitely felt like fame for a brief moment, a very brief moment, nano-ish. And I have to admit, it wasn't really me that was recognized – yet somehow I was. I will get to that later.
The interesting part of the story, at least the reason why I am telling this, is that there was the greatest himself involved. My little bit of the sweet candy called fame came on behalf of Mr Phil Hellmuth jr. and it was a shameful one.
But I should start the story from the beginning. So here it is:

My two poker buddies and I decided to play the 1100 Euro Bracelet Event at WSOPE in Berlin some time ago. Our bankrolls were really substantially small, and at least I am not more than a recreational player. But it has been kind of a dream for us to play in the WSOP since we started playing during the boom days. So we put up the money, shared 10% equity each, and got off to Berlin. Yeah, it's not the real WSOP, not Vegas – but wtf.
We had a room booked at a hostel that turned out to be some really strange place. The staff was obviously a bunch of reefers at the reception and some obsessively cleaning housekeepers. The cleaner substance they used unfortunately smelled a bit like cum and the windows could not be opened. Big problem. Ugly smell, smoke detectors in the room and no window to open. We took a little homeopathic 420 outtime on the parking space nearby and headed over to the casino. The cab dropped us off and one of my friends immediately registered for the 550€ PLO Event skipping the 1100€. The other two of us started star spotting. We saw Jonathan Duhamel right in front of us. “Kinda small, he”, my friend and I say almost synchronously. I know it's mean, but what else do noobs like us got... than being mean. Jonathan is a world champion. He should be charitable with some non-accomplishers like us. And that was about it. No more poker gods in sight.
Our friend lasted for about three hours then got knocked out on a cooler. We went over to another casino, played some cash and called it a night. The next day it happened. We went to the registration counter early but were told there was a delay. The tournament and the registration got delayed by one hour. No problem. 420 outtime in the backyard of the casino.
As we come back, all over sudden we run into Phil Hellmuth. Power celebrity. The brat. Poker super god. And he's damn tall! A poker giant. We took some pictures with him and my friend told him, that it was because of guys like Hellmuth for him losing the heritage of his father.
“You gotta keep believing”, Hellmuth responded gently and walked away.
It was obviously a joke by my friend.
By that time I definitely and undoubtedly became super nervous. Although there were not many players on the floor yet. Then finally the registration opened. I went to the counter and slid two 500 and one 100 Euro bills out of my wallet. More money then I had ever spent on poker. Hell, way to much money for a poker game. Not that I couldn't afford it, it's just completely out of my league. The most I had spend before, was around 200 Euros. But – once in a lifetime. And definitely cheaper than Vegas.
As the clock to “shuffle up and deal” ran down some familiar faces started to show up. A few locals from our hometown, Jonathan Duhamel, George Danzer and some others. And then it all was about to start. The two of us took our seats. Mine was pretty close to the bar, where our friend was waiting with his girlfriend that had come over for a day and another friend of hers. But I had no eyes for them nor my guy at a far away table. My heart was bumping. My hands a little shivering. A dealer began distributing the stacks. The table filled up. Across my seat Paul Newey sat down. Little smallish this 1100 Euro tournament for a high roller like him, I thought. But for some reason I wasn't intimidated by Paul. I thought he would either play careless and accumulate early or spill out his chips or he would play super tight. Two seats to my left I had Mike Leah. Great. Super strong player. Don't mess with him, I told myself. The other faces at the table all looked unfamiliar to me. Two aggressive locals, two probably recreational players given their age and behaviour at the table, and two tight aggressive players from where ever.
The first hands were dealt and I folded pretty much all of them. All over sudden my buddy from the other table walked by. I thought he was going to get something from the bar or had to go to the bathroom, but sadly he had gotten knocked out on a draw. After like 10 minutes! I would have been desperate, miserable, a mess. And I still admire his composure that day and how he handled it afterwards. No complaining, no whining. But to me at that moment it was a shock. That's how fast you could go out.
My other buddy later told me, that he was just explaining how long of a ride this tourney would be. How me and the other dude would sit here for hours to ideally come back tomorrow and the day after that. And right there our friend shows up in front of them. No surprise the girls were a little confused. But I was still in there. 15 minutes into the tournament.
I stole one or two blinds, called a preflop raise but had to fold on the flop. A little under starting stack I called a preflop raise with T8s from the BB. I hit top pair, called his cbet, checked a blank turn with the intend to call him down. But he moved all in and I folded.
A couple of hands later I found 77 on the button in an unraised pot. I raised, the SB folded and one of the recreational player hollywooded a little and minraised. I called. The flop brought a 7, he moved all in and I called. He showed QQ didn't improve and I was back in the game. I had goose bumps all over, my heart was racing, hormones flooding my brain. My first big pot in a major tournament. I was above average. Happy as can be. The old guy had some chips left but was eliminated shortly after my blow. It felt a bit like I had taken him out too. He didn't belong here. It's a shark tank. And he was a mackarel. I instead am one of the... honestly, I knew I was a fish too. But not a mackarel. A barracuda maybe. Our table continued 8 handed and few hands later another player got knocked out. And the seats were subsequently filled with – I almost could't believe it myself – Mr Phil Hellmuth jr. and poker super savant Fedor Holz. I was thrilled. This was better than I had ever expected. In my first and probably last WSOP bracelet event I get those two big guns at my table within the first two hours. Jackpot.
I tried to keep playing solid and watched Hellmuth and Holz bouncing back and forth in some small pots. Clearly those two gave a whole new balance to the table. Hellmuth chatted a little with Newey and Leah at the table, I changed a few words with Holz in our native language. Then I got AJo in middle position. Holz had already folded. I raised, Leah folded, Hellmuth on the button put in a substantial raise for about half of my stack. I guess moving all in would have been an option, but whenever he calls I am in deep trouble. And I honestly don't want to bow out that early. We are just three hours into the tournament. I still have a playable stack when I fold. I know he knows that I think that. And maybe he considered I might be intimated because I outed myself as fan before. But I wasn't. I was only intimidated by Fedor. He looks so innocent. A nerdish young guy, student type. But I know his resume. And he is the best. No fear, no mistakes. Never. Beast.
After some tanking I found a fold.
Some really crappy starting hands made my stack slowly dwindle down as blinds rose relentlessly. Hellmuth and Holz kept up the pace. Newey was sitting back lackadaisically, more involved with his phone than the game, Leah found his spots, players around me got knocked out and I was on the verge of seriously panicking. Only 12 big blinds left. Stay calm. Fold. Wait for a hand. No hand comes around. Blood pressure rising. Fold. Blinds going up in 20 minutes. Paying antes. Next big blind getting closer. No hand. Almost tilting. Holz and Hellmuth intensely playing, Newey chewing some food. Leah concentrated. That guy seemed to me like he was literally doing nothing all the time. You would even notice him unless you lose a hand against him I guess.
No hands. 11 bigs. Getting impatient. But then there comes a playable hand. A pair of fives. I have to get something going. But I am UTG +2. If I raise and get reraised, I am almost committed. Take a chance. I ship it in. Player next to me folds. Leah folds. Hellmuth tanks for while. Wants a count of my stack. Counts his stack. Mumbles. And moves all in over the top. A player behind calls and the cards are face up. Hellmuth KK, other player JJ, me 55. (Sad Emoji) I am crippled. Pokergods give me a five. A five. A kingdom for a five. But there is no five on the flop. No five on the turn. No five on the river. Hellmuth wins the pot. Through the blur of my shockvision I see the dealer having some trouble counting out the third players stack. And Helmuth instantly explodes. He jumps right into his face and even calls the floormen. This goddamn Phil. This goddamn game. Why couldn't I have just picked up the blinds and antes? Why?
Why no five on the board?
Anyways. I am out. Take it with pride. Do not cry. Take a 420 outtime. And then head over to the other casino for some cash game. Where my friends are. Try to swallow the pain. Getting back on the horse.
And there my fame moment appeared.
I arrived at the other casino. My friends were playing at the 2/4 Tables.We had been on the phone before, so they knew I was coming, I caught an open seat at the 1/1 and sat down with 100€. Right across the table two guys were chatting with each other. One of them is looking at his smart phone. He leans over at his pal and shows him the phone.
“Wow, Hellmuth just knocked out a player and almost tripled up in the 1100€!” The guy tells the whole table, as they obviously had been talking about the tournament nearby before.
“KK vs. 55 pre flop all in”, he added.
Some guys at the table nodded. An unexpected and almost embarassingly good feeling rushed through my whole body. Those guys were talking about me. About something that had happened to me. Okay, more to Phil than to me. But hey, why being peculiar about it? Total strangers were talking about something I was involved in at a whole different place.
“Yeah...”, I paused to catch the attention at the table. “...that was me”, I said with the absolutly most relaxed and careless voice that I was capable of. Just loud enough for the whole table to hear, but not as soundful as I would brag about it proudly. Which would have been weird anyways. Bragging about having been knocked out. Yet actually that was exactly what happened. I realised how proud I was. Proud may be the wrong description for the feeling – I was thankful. Thankful for the experience and the great unforgettable story that was gifted to me.
Some guys at the table gave me a skeptical look. The guy who came up with the topic showed around his phone. “Yeah, could be you on the photo”, somebody said to me and laughed.
I finally also got a look at the phone. A famous poker website had a live blog on the tournament. There was a lengthy post about Hellmuth knocking me out. With a photo that showed Hellmuth and the backside of my right shoulder.
And then it was over. My very short and very localised outburst of fame for a loss was over. But it had felt so goddamn good. To date I am pretty sure that these were the best 1100€ I had ever spent. By the way, needless to say that I lost another 200€ at the 1/1 table that night. Sigh.
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Old Yesterday, 04:59 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: And mine are long and sharp my Lord
Posts: 4,391
Re: How Phil Hellmuth made me famous

i feel like this story could have been much shorter. i mean its not bad, but its not great either.

not tryin to rail on you but goddamn

you MUST be a big fan of these pros thats cool
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Old Yesterday, 05:34 PM   #3
Rich Checkmaker
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Re: How Phil Hellmuth made me famous

Originally Posted by JuGamble View Post
Through the blur of my shockvision I see the dealer having some trouble counting out the third players stack. And Helmuth instantly explodes. He jumps right into his face and even calls the floormen. This goddamn Phil.
Sounds like a Phil Hellmuth story for sure. I've had the experience of playing at a table with Phil before and he is definitely an egotistical elitist. You aren't on his level OP not as a poker player or a human being(his mindset). Glad you enjoyed the experience though OP and good luck next time!
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Old Today, 04:43 AM   #4
Carpal \'Tunnel
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: I've been all over. Now Seattle.
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Re: How Phil Hellmuth made me famous

Glad you had a memorable experience. You'll win back the EUR 1100 at the tables but experiences are priceless.

Although your English is generally good, I didn't get the joke about the heritage either. Something about Hellmuth being of German background I take it but I didn't get the rest.

Yeah, a shorter version would be nice.

Originally Posted by Rich Checkmaker View Post
Sounds like a Phil Hellmuth story for sure. I've had the experience of playing at a table with Phil before and he is definitely an egotistical elitist. You aren't on his level OP not as a poker player or a human being(his mindset). Glad you enjoyed the experience though OP and good luck next time!

I got knocked out of my first WSOP event by PH. Hand history here. I didn't find him discourteous, just this hulking asocial guy whom I didn't recognize at first. Some random fan joined us after a table break and announced, "What an honor to play with the GREAT PHIL HELLMUTH!" Phil smiled and waved or nodded. He wasn't a jerk.

I'm pretty sure 90% of the persona is for the TV cameras.

Originally Posted by WateryBoil View Post
i feel like this story could have been much shorter. i mean its not bad, but its not great either.
I'm like the master of logorrhea so the pot calling the kettle black. But seriously, yeah, OP, write it all down for yourself because you'll be happy you wrote down all those memories. Then edit it to about 1/3 the length and more of us can share your excitement.

But fun story. I enjoyed reliving my own memories. Thanks for sharing.

Last edited by AKQJ10; Today at 04:57 AM.
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