Whenever Phil Hellmuth is in front of a camera or microphone, you can expect to hear some pretty… interesting things.
His recent appearance on the Doug Polk Podcast is no exception. The conversation was good-natured, but Doug wasn’t afraid to challenge some of Hellmuth’s statements.
Not everyone has the time to watch/listen to a nearly two hour interview, though, so let’s run through the very best moments from their conversation.
Check out the whole podcast here, or keep reading for time stamps:
Featured image: Danny Maxwell Photography (edited from original)
1. Hellmuth finds a way to plug two products within 30 seconds
Most interviews began with some small talk in order to break the ice, but not when the interviewee is Phil Hellmuth.
Known for his shameless self-promotion, Hellmuth wasted no time in plugging a sponsor (Breinfuel energy drinks) and something he’s been snacking on regularly for the past few weeks: Pillsbury Cookie Dough.
Two products within 30 seconds. That has to be a record.
2. A 10-minute discussion on whether or not Phil Hellmuth is “reasonable”
Reasonable people don’t usually feel the need to convince everyone that they are reasonable.
But after Hellmuth called himself reasonable, Doug decided to push back. The two then spent the next 10 minutes arguing about whether or not Hellmuth was, in fact, reasonable.
Here’s one great quote from Hellmuth during the discussion (in response to Doug bringing up Hellmuth’s constant name dropping):
Name dropping has nothing to do with being reasonable. That’s ego.
Totally reasonable discussion topic.
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3. The guys debate Hellmuth’s success in High Roller tournaments
Doug brought up that many elite tournament players view Hellmuth as a “fish” when he plays in high rollers, which is a verifiable truth. Exhibit A, this tweet from an elite tournament player:
If he wants to claim the title of GOAT, he has to put up some money and compete against great players for high stakes. Until he does that, it's a pointless claim
He avoids super high rollers because he knows he's outclassed. He's a mid stakes pro with an average buy in of $1500
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) March 6, 2021
Hellmuth challenges this by stating that he is up $1.8 million lifetime in big buy-in tournaments. In response, Doug points out that this number may not mean much, due to the fact that Phil has only played in a handful of high roller events and most of those winnings came from one tournament — the $1 Million buy-in 2012 Big One for One Drop — in which Hellmuth cashed for what amounts to 2.6 buy-ins.
Phil takes this personally, stating:
I must be the luckiest mother fucker in history.
4. Hellmuth explains why he 5-bet 83-Suited vs Negreanu
One of the craziest televised hands of all time took place this year in the third High Stakes Duel match-up between Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.
We covered the hand in detail here, but here’s a brief synopsis:
Daniel raises to 2.5bb from the Button with 2♦ 2♣. Phil 3-bets to 8bb from the Big Blind with 8♣ 3♣. Daniel 4-bets to 21.7bb. Phil 5-bets to 58.3bb. Daniel calls.
The flop comes J♣ T♦ 6♠. Phil checks dark and Daniel bets 35bb into 116.7bb. Phil calls with eight-high.
The turn comes 6♣, giving Phil a flush draw. He leads 70bb into 186.7bb and Daniel folds.
Phil explains his thought process about this insane play, claiming that he simply knew Negreanu was weak. He also said that he planned on leading on the turn no matter what came.
Take that, solver nerds!
5. Hellmuth explains limp-folding AJ-suited vs Negreanu
This much shorter hand was also wild:
Phil limps the Button with A♠ J♠. Daniel raises to 7bb with A♣ Q♠. Phil folds.
This hand is (obviously) way out of line with modern poker strategy. AJs is a monster hand that is almost always good enough to see a flop heads-up, even versus 3-bets and 4-bets. And yet Hellmuth correctly folds it to a single (relatively large) raise.
Phil explained his reasoning: he “knew” Daniel had a strong hand there because, in a previous hand, Phil had called a 7x raise in this same situation with KT-suited.
Phil knew that if he folded and Daniel had a worse hand, he would have been scrutinized relentlessly by the poker community. But at the end of the day, his fold was correct in this instance — another example of Hellmuth displaying his trademark White Magic.
Even though Phil is prone to going against conventional wisdom in poker, he must be doing something very right because his results speak for themselves, particularly in large field tournaments.
Since so much of his success is tied to his reads, trying to replicate his strategy is probably a losing effort. But with that in mind, it is interesting to hear him discuss hands so we can get a glimpse into one of the most unique minds in poker.
That’s it for today. Good luck at the tables this week, and be sure to subscribe to the Doug Polk Podcast wherever you get your podcasts:
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