Phil Hellmuth Is Looking For His 16th WSOP Bracelet


Every poker player dreams of heading to Las Vegas, Nevada, competing at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The WSOP is like football’s Super Bowl, baseball’s World Series, and soccer’s World Cup. It is the pinnacle of poker. Winning a WSOP event comes with a potentially life-changing sum of money and a special commemorative gold bracelet. Most poker players go through their entire careers without winning a bracelet. Phil Hellmuth is not like most players.

Hellmuth is a poker legend, even if he is a polarizing character. The man who originally hails from Madison, Wisconsin, has won more WSOP bracelets than any other player in history, living or otherwise. Fifteen times Hellmuth has secured a piece of poker’s most sought-after jewelry. Only Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan are in double figures with ten bracelets each.

Hellmuth at the WSOP

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The poker champion played his first WSOP in 1988, where he finished in the money twice, once in a $1,500 Seven Card Stud tournament and the $10,000 Main Event. He returned to Vegas in 1989, where he won the No-Limit Texas Holdem Main Event for $755,000. Hellmuth defeated seasoned pro Johnny Chan heads-up to put himself on the poker map. With his victory, the 24-year-old Hellmuth became the youngest-ever Main Event champion, an honor he held until 2008 when Denmark’s Peter Eastgate (22) broke the record.

Receiving a massive bankroll boost, a bracelet, and the plaudits from the poker world made Hellmuth hungry for more success. He won his second bracelet in 1992 in a $5,000 Limit Hold’em event, but it was 1993 where his skills shone through. Hellmuth won three bracelets at the 1993 WSOP, becoming only the second person in history at the time to achieve that remarkable feat.

Hellmuth continued accumulating coveted WSOP bracelets, never going more than four years without securing some poker gold. 

In 2003, Hellmuth won two bracelets at the same WSOP, something he achieved again in 2012 when he wrote himself into poker’s history books. 2012 saw Hellmuth, known as the “Poker Brat” for his tirades at the tables, won a $2,500 Razz event in Las Vegas before jetting off to France for the WSOP Europe festival. Here, Hellmuth won the €10,450 buy-in Main Event. It awarded €1,022,376 and Hellmuth’s 13th bracelet. It also meant Hellmuth was the first-ever player to win the WSOP Main Event and WSOP Europe Main Event.

The Poker Brat got his hands on bracelet number 14 in 2015 and his 15th bracelet in 2018. Now he is in the hunt for bracelet 16 at the 2021 WSOP.

Running Hot In Las Vegas

Hellmuth is best-known for his No-Limit Hold’em prowess. Nine of his 15 bracelets stem from the popular game; he is one of only two players to have won five No-Limit Hold’em bracelets. However, Hellmuth has obviously put many hours into his non-hold’em skills judging by his results at the ongoing 2021 WSOP.

The 2021 WSOP is currently running in Las Vegas, having been delayed from the summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hellmuth made it clear that he is gunning for his 16th bracelet, and he has already come close three times in the opening events.

A sixth-place finish in the $25,000 H.O.R.S.E event showed Hellmuth’s intentions. A deep run in the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice 6-Handed followed before Hellmuth finished fifth in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship. He reached another final table, finishing fourth in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship. The poker legend is banging on the door of that 16th bracelet, that is for sure.

There are more than 50 events still to play at the 2021 WSOP in Las Vegas. It would take a brave person to bet against Hellmuth scooping up his 16th bracelet, especially on the form he is currently showing.

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