Hellmuth extends record with 17th WSOP bracelet

2 July 2023

Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth (photo by WSOP)

According to those close to him, Phil Hellmuth has suffered a relatively frustrating 2023 World Series of Poker despite recording nine cashes. All of that frustration melted away, however, after his tenth cash came with a record extending 17th WSOP bracelet win in Event #72: $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty. This victory only adds to arguably the greatest tournament poker resumé of all time that began in 1989 with Hellmuth's first bracelet in the Main Event.

As with all but three of his bracelets, his 17th victory came in the No-Limit Hold'em variant. The fast blind structure and bounty element drew a large field of 642 runners that generated a total prizepool of $4,044,600 with Hellmuth taking $803,818 plus bounties for the first place finish.

It was not the money, however, that meant the most to Hellmuth. Rather, the extension of his record seemed to be of greater value as it gives his proponents more reason to argue that he is one of the best to have ever played the game.

While Hellmuth did end up on top, his tournament had its ups and downs. At one point, he was down to just 60,000 at the 15,000/30,000 blind level. "I just needed to make it to the break" he told PokerNews afterwards. The break allowed him to refocus and come back with renewed vigor on his way to mounting an improbable comeback.

Late in the day, he picked up pocket jacks three times, won several key flips, and found aces at an opportune moment to eliminate Phil Ivey in 6th place. "I had jacks hold up against ace-king for three million each" Hellmuth said, describing the fortunate run of cards in the latter stages of the day. "Any potential luck that I was complaining about I received more than [enough]" he continued.

"I'm feeling pretty good. I must have a smile just fixed to my face". That was Hellmuth describing what his 17th bracelet triumph feels like. In this case, those words may be an understatement as, at the moment of victory, he went jumping around the Paris Ballroom, entirely elated.

"I tried not complain. Oh, I've been unlucky in key spots. F*** all that bulls*** you know, because things happen for a reason". He would go on to explain that part of the reason he was even in the tournament was due to an early exit in Event: #71 $50,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller at the hands of Jeremy Ausmus.

"You know maybe part of the reason I busted the Pot Limit Omaha was to come and win this. You know, maybe part of the reason I busted the deuce to seven was so I could get rest".

Hellmuth highlighted the importance of the three full days rest he got, saying "coming in fresh was enormously helpful". The clear mindset that came with the rest helped him to manage some of the rougher spans in the tournament.

"I came back from one of those breaks, I had sixty thousand left. The blinds were fifteen and thirty. I just knew I needed to make it to that break". From that point, everything seemed to break in his favor on his way to the win.

While his 17th bracelet does extend his record, even before the win Hellmuth felt he was finally getting the respect he thinks he deserves. "This is the first year of my career that all the great players called me great or the greatest. Shaun Deeb is one of the geatest players in the world. He finally understands and was giving me compliments like 'you're the best player in the tournament.'"

There will be no time for immediate rest for Hellmuth, who is due to speak at Doyle Brunson's celebration of life at the Horseshoe later today. Hellmuth said that he was thinking of his late friend, especially during a hand at the final table where he made a straight holding Brunson's iconic ten-deuce offsuit.

Final Table Action

Chris Savage came into the nine-handed final table with a commanding lead, holding nearly half of the chips in play after felting Lawrence Brandt in 10th. Hellmuth, meanwhile, sat middle of the pack with a stack worth 13 big blinds.

Abdella Ali was the first to make his exit after losing a flip with nines against the big slick of Kelvin Kerber.

Marc Foggin had been riding the short stack for quite some time and eventually was forced out in 8th place when he ran into the dominating ace of Justin Zaki.

Next to go was high stakes regular Brandon Steven after he could not improve against Ivey, instead, he was forced to settle for 7th place. That elimination was followed quickly by Ivey's own when he was felled by the pocket rockets of Hellmuth.

Savage had gone from running as if he were blessed by the poker gods before the final table to being unable to win a single pot. That was no more the case than on his final hand when his kings were overcome by the queen-nine of Zaki.

Play slowed down somewhat after that but with the average stack never straying above 25 big blinds, things could only go on for so long. Kerber had been aggressive for much of the day, something that helped him make a deep run. That run came to an end in 4th place after his flopped middle pair came up short against the top pair of Tom Kunze.

A few hands later Hellmuth sent Kunze to the rail in 3rd place with a turned pair after the German was left short in an encounter with Zaki. His elimination set up a heads-up contest between Hellmuth, looking to extend his bracelet record, and Zaki, hoping to get his first.

Despite the two starting with near even stacks, it did not last long. In fact, it was all over after one hand where Zaki got all of his chips in the middle with a flopped straight flush draw against the bottom two of Hellmuth. The two pair turned into a full house and held on the river to send Hellmuth leaping for joy while Zaki had to make do with runner-up honors and a consolation prize of $496,801.

Final Table Results
1 Phil Hellmuth United States $803,818
2 Justin Zaki United States $496,801
3 Tom Kunze Germany $349,737
4 Kelvin Kerber Brazil $249,876
5 Chris Savage United States $181,230
6 Phil Ivey United States $133,461
7 Brandon Steven United States $99,817
8 Marc Foggin United Kingdom $75,837

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(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)
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