As my colleague and friend Dan Katz pointed out earlier this week, the 2021 World Series of Poker has been relatively uneventful to this point. Yes, the numbers have been a bit lower, as the MILLIONAIRE MAKER tournament showed (down from its 2019 level of 8809 entries to this year’s 5326). More than likely the explanation for that, however, is the lack of foreign participation at the WSOP and maybe a little to do with the COVID guidelines instituted by the organization. But, like death and taxes, Phil Hellmuth – or, rather, his behavior – has once again reared his ugly head.
It is time that the WSOP did something about Hellmuth.
More Than Usual Antics from “Poker Brat”
Hellmuth has made a career out of his tirades on the table and, in most cases, the poker community has laughed it off as Hellmuth being the “Poker Brat.” But his actions during the Seven Card Stud Championship tournament at the 2021 WSOP went beyond just his normal bratty, obnoxious behavior. It borders on mental disorder, something that his wife should seriously examine him for if she is half the psychiatrist she claims to be.
The situation came from a hand between Hellmuth and Anthony Zinno, who arguably used the chip boost from the hand to eventually win the tournament. After Zinno rivered an unlikely flush against him, Hellmuth launched into what became, even for him, one of the most epic tirades in poker history. It also served as an embarrassment for the WSOP, who did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stop his behavior.
It is estimated that, over the next thirty minutes or so, that Hellmuth dropped anywhere from fifty to seventy F-bombs, lambasting the way the hand went, Zinno, and his general fates overall. The most egregious statement, however, was his repeated assertions that he would “burn down” the Rio, simply because it had the audacity to host an event that would not deal him the cards necessary to win.
In all, it was a travesty. It needs to stop. And the WSOP needs to do something NOW.
Hellmuth – You are NOT a “Champion”
To Phil Hellmuth – you have already demonstrated that you are a thoroughly despicable human being. Despite all those hours of charity work, despite those nice donations to your pet causes and your attempts to paint yourself as some sort of philanthropist, you cannot treat people in the manner that you do. It simply sullies any act that you might have done that could have painted you in a positive light.
There is a word you also need to quit using, because you obviously have no clue what it means. You are quite fond of ending your Twitter posts with “#POSITIVITY,” which apparently is a joke for you. You ought to start finishing your Twitter posts with what you have actually demonstrated over your career – “#PSYCHOPATHY.” It would be a more accurate display of your mental case, especially when you advocate for the burning of a building because it offended you.
Finally, you should never be called a “champion” ever again. A champion does not berate their opponents, even in the heat of battle, or rant and rave like a five-year-old. A true champion ALWAYS handles themselves with a level of decorum, something you have never done in your career. Even when they have been beaten, true champions like Serena Williams or LeBron James have, at the minimum publicly, managed their defeats like a champion would.
In the future, you should be referred to as “15-time WSOP bracelet holder” Phil Hellmuth…NEVER as a “champion.” You don’t deserve the recognition as a “champion.”
WSOP – ENFORCE YOUR RULES!
WSOP officials do not get off scott-free on this, either. You have established rules for the proper conduct of participants in your tournaments. The rules can result in a verbal reprimand, a penalty of an orbit of the table or, if the action is particularly heinous, the player can be ejected from the tournament and banned from Caesars properties FOREVER. Folks might forget this particular situation from 2019:
It is time that the WSOP and Caesars as a whole start exercising their rules on Hellmuth.
The WSOP tried to say, “we didn’t hear it,” which was the lamest excuse that they could produce. Apparently, the play on the PokerGO streaming stage is about 15 feet from ANY tournament director, who might have heard Hellmuth’s ridiculous antics and enforced any penalties. It is, however, more likely that WSOP officials LET IT GO rather than punish one of the greatest players in the organization’s history – which is what they would have done to any other player.
If it were any other player, without the pedigree of Hellmuth, security at the Rio would have bounced that player from the tournament room, dragged them down the hall to the exits, and banned them from ever returning to that or any other Caesars property. By continuing to let Hellmuth get away with such actions, they DO NOT prevent him from doing it again. Just because this person has won some of your tournaments does NOT give him carte blanche to treat other players the way he does or treat floor staff and dealers in the manner he has – and we will not even get into the verbal threat of destroying the property.
Grow a pair, WSOP. You are the one in charge, not this petulant child.
Of course, Hellmuth has now come out with all his usual apologies, about how he will try to be a “better person.” Prove it then, Hellmuth. And WSOP…start enforcing the rules against EVERYONE, not just choosing on a whim who is subjected to what your guidelines are. It is a constant embarrassment for the game that Hellmuth continues with this idiocy, but he will continue to do it as long as the WSOP, World Poker Tour or any event allows him to get away with it.