Jenny Woo Interviews The Poker Brat Phil Hellmuth

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth aka "poker brat" took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down with Jenny to discuss the UltimateBet scandal, his involvement with some great charities and whether he agrees with the "poker brat" label he's been given.  Coming soon - my interview with Annie Duke.   Hellmuth is a representative for UltimateBet.com

JENNY:  There has been a lot of controversy surrounding a much publicized insider cheating scandal involving UltimateBet. You have stood firmly by their side through all of this. How have your friends on the poker circuit reacted to this scandal?

PHIL:  I believed from the outset of the investigation that one or two people were behind the cheating, I didn't know who, and I still do not condemn anyone personally.  When the scandal hit, I did not have a signed contract, and UB wanted me to sign one with them. My advisers and I decided to wait and make sure that everything--all the information--came out, and that most importantly, the victims were paid back in full.  When my advisers and I met Paul Leggett, who was then in charge of the investigation, we immediately felt like this was someone that would do the right thing.  As time passed, we began to have faith that Paul was the right man to be the new CEO.  Paul is strong, no nonsense, principled, and seems to have the highest integrity.  Paul has perfect marks right now from the players (who he has called personally), the industry (who has known him for years), and from within the organization itself (he has been with UB for 1 ½ years).

JENNY:  Do you like being called a "poker brat"? Does the name fit?

PHIL:  PB seems to fit.  I do not always have the full control over myself that I want to have at the tables, especially when people beat me playing poorly.  Being a "Bad boy" pays well, and I think 70% of the people watching see that there is a lot of good in me, 100 times the amount of bad.  In fact, the only bad in me is that I whine too much, and go off on people, but it just so happens that it makes for great television...

JENNY:  What is your option on this year's delay of the final table in the WSOP?

PHIL:  Love it, it was a brilliant idea that Ty Stewart had, and Jeffrey Pollack went with it.

JENNY:  What did you make of Peter Eastgate's win?

PHIL:  He played the best at the table that day for sure.  He trapped Ivan when he was strong, and waited for the others to make mistakes.  Breaking my record was good for poker, and it is a record that I cannot retake--no time machines today!  All the other records I can still defend.

JENNY:  Do you believe that the WSOP has reached its peak and what do you see as some of today's drawbacks?

PHIL:  No, it will continue to get much much bigger and better.  I wish there were less two-in-a-one day tournaments.  It does help great players win bracelets, because there are less players to beat, but I want the great players to stand up and win against everyone!

JENNY:  Should there be a limit on the number of entries?

PHIL:  No.  I believe that it is great for the game when records are reached each year...Now someday we might have another tournament that only the top 200 players are invited too, and that would be fun as well, kinda like on the PGA Tour...

JENNY:  Which event would you rather participate in if given a choice of one or the other - The World Series of Poker Europe with a smaller prize pool but better odds of making it to the final table (a la Daniel Negreanu) or the World Series of Poker Vegas where the odds of making it to the final table are much longer but the prize pool in the millions?

PHIL:  Main event!   There is only one main event!!!!

JENNY:  You have been involved in Annie Duke's charity AUFA (Ante Up For Africa) - How has the experience been working with such a great charity?

PHIL:   have been proud to emcee a bunch of the AUFA's (www.anteupforafrica.org/), and I'm happy to have helped raise a ton of money for Darfur.  I like teasing the world's biggest athletes and celebs on the microphone and they seem to enjoy it as well.

JENNY:  What other charities are you involved in?

PHIL:  I emceed in the last two months:

1.) we raised $350,000 a few weeks back for "Taser's Fallen Officer Foundation" (http://www.taserfoundation.org/)

2.) we raised $850,000 for CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) (http://www.chop.edu/)

JENNY:  Annie Duke had been involved with the Poker Players Alliance and spoke in front of the Judiciary Committee?  Are you involved at all in the fight against the UIGEA?

PHIL:  I support it 100%, and Annie is well spoken, sharp as a tack, and ideally suited to handle anything in front of any committee.

JENNY:  Do you see a future in poker with any of your kids?

PHIL:  Maybe, but I told them they could have lessons only after they read my book, they are 18 and 15 and haven't read it yet...

JENNY:  What do you think you'd be doing today if not for poker?

PHIL:  I would be a promoter, a politician, or a mogul.

JENNY:  Thanks Phil for agreeing to do this interview.


Jenny Woo, Gambling911.com Senior Correspondent  


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