Few poker players are as divisive as Phil Hellmuth. The guy fondly known as “The Poker Brat” is both for his tantrums at the tables, his unorthodox playing style, and his sky-high self-confidence and belief as he is for winning more than $26.1 million and a record 16 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets. Throughout 2021, Hellmuth let his poker do the talking, with the exception of desecrating down the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
Antonio Esfandiari, the first Big One for One Drop champion, and Hellmuth faced off in the PokerGO High Stakes Duel at the end of 2020. Hellmuth won $400,000 after defeating “The Magician” in a best-of-three match.
Hellmuth took on his buddy and long-time poker opponent Daniel Negreanu in a $100,000 heads-up No-Limit Hold’em showdown just four months into the new year. The victor was announced after six hours, with Negreanu having a four-to-one chip lead at one point, much to the chagrin of The Poker Brat, who let loose with a barrage of F-bombs. Hellmuth made an incredible comeback, but the match was so fascinating that a repeat seemed inevitable.
And it only happened a month after the initial heads-up sit-and-go. Negreanu boosted his buy-in to $100,000, but the higher stakes did not help him, as Hellmuth triumphed once more. Hellmuth was now 5-0 in High Stakes Duel games and on his way to becoming 6-0.
Hellmuth swept Esfandiari 3-0 in High Stakes Duel I, then he did the same to Negreanu in High Stakes Duel II, with significantly less expletives and Hellmuth even complimenting Negreanu with, “You played well, Daniel. I think you are one of the all-time greats.”
In Round 1 of High Stakes Duel III, Hellmuth beats Wright to go 7-0. Going into the 2021 event, Hellmuth had 15 gold WSOP bracelets. Dwan was able to advance after cracking Hellmuth’s aces. In Round 1 of High Stakes Duel III, he played Nick Wright and recovered from behind to defeat Wright and go 7-0 in the format. Whatever you may think of Hellmuth, there’s no doubting he knows his way around a WSOP event.
Hellmuth’s seven final tables surpassed An Tran’s 28-year record of six final tables set in 1993. Hellmuth entered 34 tournaments, including the $1,979 Hall of Fame event, which he never played because he was too preoccupied with the Razz Championship. He cashed 10 times, made it to the final table of seven, and took home one of the prizes.