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Dennis Phillips: Life After The 2008 WSOP Final

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Dec/22/2008
Dennis Phillips

Gambling911.com Senior Correspondent, Jenny Woo, had an opportunity to sit down with 3rd place finisher at this year's World Series of Poker final, Dennis Phillips, to discuss what he's been up to since walking away from that table with a cool $4.5 million and some change.  T'is the season for giving and Phillips will be giving plenty through his charity work.

JENNY:  You went into this game saying that you were going to have fun.  How much fun did you have and do you have any regrets?

DENNIS:  I had a blast.  There's absolutely no question about it.  First time in my life I brought all the different aspects of my life together as far as people.  I had people I played poker with, I had friends, I had relatives, I had co-workers and I had old college chums that came down here.  They were all together in one room.  Everywhere I looked I saw people that I knew.  It was awesome.  No I have absolutely no regrets.  I had a blast! 

JENNY:  You had a great show of support with 300 of your friends and family cheering you on at the final table all the while wearing you signature white shirt and red hat.  How important was it to you to have your friends and family share in the fun, excitement and with the added twist of humor?

DENNIS:  I honestly think that I did this the way I wanted to do it.  I couldn't think of a better script to write.  Like I said, all these people out here, all of them have got my back, having fun, cheering me on.  Yeah it was awesome.  It was absolutely the best scripted scenario I could have had for leading up to it and for enjoying it.  I had an absolute blast!

JENNY:  I'm glad that you did.  I enjoyed watching it.

DENNIS:  Thank you.  You were more than welcome to come down there.  Good grief.

JENNY:  I know.  Where was my invitation?

DENNIS:  You have a standing invitation.  Anytime on these things.  I will cover everything.

JENNY:  Well you'll have to keep that invitation open for next time.

JENNY:  The delay of the final table this year - Do it again next year or go back to the way it use to be?

DENNIS:  They're going to have to do the delay again as successful as it was.  I hope they shorten it some.  I see no reason to have 117 day break.  But this gave a chance for 9 people to become household names somewhat versus the winner and maybe one or two others at the table.  It gives you the chance to promote yourself, to travel around the world, to look for sponsors and to sharpen your game.  From a pure poker standpoint, you obviously want to finish the tournament and go.  But I think the same arguments people were talking about - about showing the hold'em cards and how bad it is and how it would ruin the game that they did several years ago - and now everybody accepts it because it is better for the overall game.  I think this is going to be better for the overall game.  Overall, I have to say that it was a good idea for poker. 

JENNY:  I'm assuming you've gone back to work.  Even after all the popularity you've gained this year - Do they still treat you like the Dennis Phillips they've known for years and do you get noticed more around town?

DENNIS:  I get noticed all over the place by people.  (Haha).  I'll give you a quick little story.  I went up over Thanksgiving up to my sisters in Wisconsin and we went to a Packers game.  I was recognized at the Packers game.  Driving back, it was Monday night at nine o'clock at night, I pull into an Arby's in Springfield, IL, walk in the door and the guy behind the counter looks up and goes, "you're Dennis Phillips, can I have your autograph"?  I had to sit there and laugh.  I was like, "you've got to be kidding me." 

JENNY:  I think that's awesome because your popularity brings awareness to the charities you work with.  That leads to my next question.  Charity, charity, charity!!!  I applaud you for the work you do with these charities, Bad Beat for Cancer, hanging with the troops, charity for MS - just to name a few.  You had mentioned to me last time that you were going to try to set up a foundation to benefit a lot of things.  Has that goal been started yet and what's next for you in charity?

DENNIS:  No, it has not gotten set up yet.  I do have an attorney, an accountant and everybody trying to set it up and figure out the best way to do it.  It will happen.  I'm just not sure how soon they can put it together.  It's a good and a bad thing - I want to help the charities, I want their name out there, I want to try to get more publicity to it and toward donating to it.  But ever Tom, Dick and Harry of course are calling me right now on it.  The problem is the majority of them are very good reasons and very good causes, but there's only so much I can do time wise.  We're trying to cover all the bases.  I've got a couple of people trying to do the foundation that are going to run little interference ahead of time; maybe they can seal a lot of the calls and handle some thing on their own.  We're trying to figure some way to do it but not really sure.  If you have any words of wisdom, I would really love to hear it.  (Haha)  I'm not sure the best way to do it to be honest.

JENNY:  I think you're doing such a great job already.  You can't help everybody but at least you're out there.  Some people wouldn't even think of charity and yet that's one of the biggest things on your mind right now. 

DENNIS:  Well there are also benefits; you get to see a lot of the results of it, which is really self-rewarding.  And you know I'll tell you another little story - last Sat I was at an annual dinner for a charity foundation; I was down stairs with Albert Pujols (Cardinals) and a few other people.  This tall guy comes walking up to me and says, "I want to shake your hand" and we start talking back and forth.  It took me about 45 seconds to suddenly realize I was shaking Darryl Strawberry's hand.  I was like, "okay - now I know who you are."  It was embarrassed as can be because obviously this is Darryl Strawberry.  We were talking and he was there to support Albert.  His wife was there and I talked a little bit with his wife.  They have a foundation for autistic children.  I said, "Well maybe we can do something here."  We struck up a good conversation and we exchanged phone numbers.  That was a big thrill for me meeting Darryl.  So I get little side benefits on this too.

JENNY:  I had the chance to interview Annie Duke not too long ago and she does awesome charity work.  One of them being Ante Up For Africa.  Would you play in it if she had asked you?

DENNIS:  Absolutely!

JENNY:  You had mentioned last time that you'd be able to spoil your nieces, nephews, sisters, and brothers.  I'm sure you've already gotten started on that.  My question to you is - have you been able to spoil yourself?

DENNIS:  I can't stop smiling.  (Haha) I wake up with a smile on my face.  This is almost hilarious.  When somebody walks up to you and wants to introduce themselves - I just have to grin.  I'm kind of enjoying life right now (haha).

JENNY:  (Haha) It sounds like you are and just taking it in.  It almost seems as if the reward itself is helping others.  Putting smiles on other people's faces is the reward.

DENNIS:  Now stop for a minute and think.  When can you feel better about yourself when you're doing something like that?  When you actually see the results.  Albert is really a guy for the kids in the St. Louis area.  I was at a charity event and I go around the corner and see 50-75 down syndrome children in the middle of a dance floor.  They're mashing towards the center just laughing hysterically.  In the center there's this person that's about a foot and a half taller than anybody else pinned in there being squashed on all four sides and can't hardly stand up from laughing so hard.  It's Albert Pujols.  It was awesome to watch that. 

Let me give you one more just to show how great people can be because these people didn't know me from Adam.  We went to the Packer's game.  My brother-in-law up there arranged for the seats and everything.  He got us club level.  My brother has MS, he can hardly walk that far and he was in a wheelchair and I was pushing him.  My dad was in a wheelchair and my brother-in-law was pushing him.  We get up into the stadium and one of the escalators was broke.  There are hundreds of people lined up in front of the elevator.  We're fifty feet from it and somebody yells out, "wheelchair."  I swear it was like the parting of the Red Sea.  These people backed up, waived us up there, we didn't have any Greenbay attire on, nobody recognized me that I know of and we were the next four people on the elevator.  It was great.

JENNY:  What are you doing now in the poker arena?  As you're in Vegas at the moment playing - correct?

DENNIS:  The week after the WSOP I went up to the B.C. Classic up in Vancouver.  I finished in the money up there, I finished 30th out of 700.  I would of like to have done better but I sure can't complain about it.  I'm on my first day at the Bellagio, my first day was yesterday (Dec. 13) in which I was in 1A, IB plays today and Monday is when the two groups are put together to start playing again.  There are 200 people and I'm 50 something in it.  I'm good and solid and I'm in a good position right now.  Very good start on it.  I'm going to the Bahamas on January 3rd.  I'm going to Chile January 19th for an LAPT (Latin American Poker Tour).  I'm going to California in Feb for the Classic out there.  I'll probably be playing about two tournaments a month all the way to the WSOP out here again.

JENNY:  What does Broadway Trucking think of all of this.  (Haha)

DENNIS:  (Haha) I've got their support.  It's not a problem.

JENNY:  And you're also playing online tournaments?  Correct?

DENNIS:  Yeah.  In fact I'm going to be playing today in just a few minutes.

JENNY:  Well then I'll let you get to it.  Thank you so much for sitting down once again with me.

DENNIS:  The next time we're at the same tournament or whatever - the drinks are on me.  (Haha)

JENNY:  (Haha) Deal!  Good luck out there and hopefully I'll talk to you soon.

DENNIS:   Thank you very much.

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