Phil Hellmuth

Who is Phil Hellmuth?

Have you ever wondered who Phil Hellmuth is?

He is probably the best poker player in the world.

Phillip Jerome Hellmuth Jr. is an American professional poker player well-known for a remarkable poker career and a lot of other activities outside the tables. He is an author, a publisher, a real estate company owner and so much more. 

He's made over $14 million in career earnings!

He set a new world record by winning the 15th bracelet at the $5,000 No Limit Hold'em Event, WSOP 2018, only three days ago!


Childhood set a good start for him!

Growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, Phil Hellmuth was the oldest of 5 children in a Catholic Family. His father was a dean at the University of Wisconsin and his mother was a sculptor, so a poker career was something completely new for Hellmuth and his family. 

But the poker game itself was not! The family used to play cards together and Phil Jr. had the most fun playing against his grandmother, Agnes Slattery, to whom he dedicated his Harper Collins book Play Poker Like the Pros.

My mother sculpts, collects antiques, and spreads a lot of positivity. Mom had this sign up on the bathroom mirror when I was growing up (until I was 18 years old):

You are what you think;

You become what you think;

What you think becomes reality.

Reading this everyday had a profound influence on my life. It made me believe that I could choose my own destiny.



His poker career had a rough start, though!

Phil Hellmuth attended the University of Wisconsin for three years, dropping out after winning decent money in local poker games. He travelled to Las Vegas 10 times before winning at the tables, and he often returned to Madison to build a bankroll by working as a field labourer for Blaine Farms de-tassling corn and tilling the soil.

"One interesting thing about me that most people don’t know is that I was friends with Chris Farley, when we were growing up in Wisconsin.," Hellmuth said back in 2015. "And, when I started out in poker, I did so badly that I had to go back to Wisconsin to do farm work to earn a new bankroll."

In his autobiography, Phil writes a passage in which we can see the struggle he was in while trying to succeed in Vegas: 

So, I made my way back to my hotel room, dreading the phone call that I needed to make while trying to think of another way out. There wasn't one. Finally, I picked up the phone. After my first attempt to call failed, I realized that I would have to call "collect", because my "cash only" outside phone line had been cut off by the hotel. 

Operator: "Sir, will you accept the charges and take a collect call from P.J.?

After a brief hesitation, my father said, "Yes (oh great, Dad answered the phone!), I accept the charges."

"Hi, Dad, things aren't going so well here in Las Vegas."

"Has it ever gone well for you there, even one time?"

Trying not to let my voice crack, I said: "Dad, I need your help. I'm stuck here in Las Vegas with no money and no way to get home, and I'm hungry. I can't believe I did this to myself, but I lost all the money."

"You might want to talk to your mother, bye..."

Mom: "Hi, P.J., what's going on?"

"Mom, I lost all my money, I'm hungry, and I need you to call the airlines and buy a plane ticket home for me on your credit card for $180. I have $800 at home and I'll pay you back as soon as I get home."

A long pause...

"OK, P.J., listen carefully. I'm going to help you out this one time.

 But I will never ever help you out again. I love you, but we have four other younger children, and we need to save our money for them. Do you understand?

"Yes, Mom, thank you."


The Poker Brat's adventure begins

Hellmuth’s 1989 story has been written as a screenplay and is being developed as a major motion picture by Beacon Pictures.

"Obviously I whine too much because I'm the Poker Brat! But I try really hard to NOT let any bad luck I have at the tables affect me away from the tables. I have gotten better and better at this over the years, but I'm sure my wife will tell you I was bad at this in my twenties and thirties. I don't want that stuff to impact my relations with my friends and family in a negative way."

The mindset of a professional poker player will always be a thing and will always have a story behind it because no one is a natural poker face and we all lose it sometimes. Behind the screen, it's easier because you are alone and you can hit with the mouse on the desk.

Phil Hellmuth said some words that he now regrets at the poker tables while being live. Nowadays, his words got way better as he is crushing his writing career too!


He just published a new book this year!

Phil Hellmuth Jr. is a New York Times Bestselling Author. His success isn’t a gamble—it’s the result of a daily practice of defining his goals and sticking to his personal code. 

I started my column “Hand of the Week” (I own the trademark) in the 1990s, and wrote it until 2010. It was part marketing, and part “let’s show the world these amazing hands that I witnessed and played” (both great plays, and blunders!)

Besides the amazing column, Phil Hellmuth wrote serious books about poker and his career along the way. His titles started appearing on the shelves from 2003 and right now he is focusing more on inspirational and motivational writing as he published the latest book entitled Positivity in 2018.

  • Positivity: You are always in the right place at the right time(2018)
  • Poker Brat: Phil Hellmuth's autobiography (2017)
  • Read'em and Reap (2006)
  • Phil Hellmuth's Texas Hold 'Em (2005)
  • Bad Beats and Lucky Draws: Poker Strategies, Winning Hands, and Stories from the Professional Poker Tour (2004)
  • Play Poker Like the Pros (2003) 


In his latest book, Hellmuth seems to start a new path in the writing career since he teaches his readers how to shift from being bogged down by hate to playing life like the pro that you are. While reading his words, one will learn:

  • How hate and negativity are poisoning you and holding you back
  • How to define your goals and your personal code for success
  • How to take stock of the blessings in your life, and use them as fuel
  • How to build your pyramid of success
  • How to know that you are in the right place at the right time, right now!


His interests go way outside the poker tables!

Phil Hellmuth has built a big company dealing also with clothing, publishing, casino games and real estates. Of course, poker is his main activity and the one he loves the most, but we can see that his interests go way far from the tables. 

The clothing line never took off like I hoped it would. We have some GREAT clothing at, but we never spent too much money marketing it. These days, I have a deal with the 3Bet Clothing company, and I wear 3Bet every day!

My publishing company did a book called Deal Me In about 20 players and how they found poker. We sold a lot of copies, and I was intending on doing my autobiography within Poker Brat Publishing, but instead, I did it with D&B Poker. I didn’t want to hire any more full-time employees.

The real estate company is low key. I only have two houses in there, one in Vegas and one in Minneapolis.

The games company could be the one that makes us $100 million! We have issued patents on several games. And one of them, a game called Poker Jack (a blast to play), is ½ poker and ½ blackjack. Poker Jack could be the one! We also own Poker 123, and that game is in the late stages of going to market.


He won the 15th bracelet!

Hellmuth has held the all-time bracelet lead since he won his 11th career WSOP title in 2007, surpassing the 10 bracelets won by Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson. Phil Ivey later reached 10 bracelets in his own right, but Hellmuth is now five gold bracelets clear of the field.

Among his other WSOP records, Hellmuth has also recorded the most in-the-money finishes and most final table appearances, too. 

Talking about his biggest win this year, Phil said about his opponent, Steven Wolansky:

He wouldn't give an inch. I knew he wouldn't give an inch. I had to start thinking, 'All right, how do I want to handle this?' I'm going to have to steal more pots against him to give myself a chance because he's just not giving a chip away. He's making it really tough, and I can't blink first either.


When asked what extending the bracelet record meant, Hellmuth said:

[Number] thirteen in Europe was really humbling for me. So was fourteen. And so was fifteen. It's humbling. I haven't had a very good summer, but I've kept myself positive. … Every night I come back to the room, saying, 'Life is good, relax. Life is good, relax.' Part of me is like, 'Man! I haven't had any rushes in poker in like – thirty days,” something that changed at an opportune time this night. “I had like one rush in forty days and even that was a short one. This doesn't make sense to me but I kept staying positive, kept staying positive.



A professional poker player and a family man!

Phil lives in California with his wife of 22 years, Kathy, and their two sons, Phillip III and Nicholas.

Phil’s goal is simple: “I want to be the greatest poker player of all-time. But one who always puts family first.”


Do you want to be a successful professional poker player too? 


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