Phil Hellmuth's Poker Achievements, Rise to Fame, and Status in the Poker Community
Few poker players in the world inspire such polarizing feelings as Phil Hellmuth, the self-proclaimed Poker Brat and "greatest poker player of all time."
Whether you love or hate him, it is hard to ignore all the things Phil Hellmuth has done in the poker world. From winning a record 16 WSOP bracelets over the years to beating a number of high-profile opponents in heads-up matches more recently, the Poker Brat's actions speak perhaps even louder than his words. That says a lot, as Phil Hellmuth loves to talk and berate other players.
Despite all his trash-talking and sometimes brash nature, Phil Hellmuth is considered one of the biggest philanthropists in the poker world and is generally considered a very nice guy away from the tables.
From Phil Hellmuth net worth to his poker winnings and from his personal life to friendships with the billionaires, we took a close look at the poker champion to try and create one of the most extensive biographies on a player who needs little introduction.
This is the full story of Phil Hellmuth, the only 16-time WSOP bracelet winner and one of the most controversial personas in the poker community.
Phil Hellmuth Highlights
- Dropped out of college to become a pro poker player
- Won WSOP Main Event in both Vegas and Europe
- Won 16 gold WSOP bracelets in his career
- Final tabled 64 WSOP events
- Known as "The Poker Brat" for his brash personality
- Wrote "Play Poker Like the Pros" and "#Positivity"
- A great philanthropist and charity worker
- Considered one of the top tournament players of all time.
Who Is Phil Hellmuth – Early Life and Upbringing
Born in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1964, Phillip Hellmuth Jr. attended the Madison West High School and tried getting a higher degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Hellmuth didn't have a passion for school at any point in his life, and he decided to drop out of University and devote himself to playing poker professionally after three years.
In 1992, Phil moved to Palo Alto, California, and married his current wife, Katherine Sanborn, a psychiatrist at Stanford University. They have two sons, one of whom was named Phillip Hellmuth III and the other Nicholas.
While Hellmuth may be one of the most popular and famous gamblers in the world, he tries to keep his personal life out of the spotlight and doesn't bring his wife and kids into his professional dramas too much. More important to all the fans of the Poker Brat is certainly his poker career, which started out in 1987, when Phil was 23 years old.
“If there weren't luck involved, I would win every time!”
Phil Hellmuth's Poker Career – The Greatest Player Alive?
Phil Hellmuth started playing poker in the late 1980s when the games were very soft and teaching materials were scarce. Hellmuth seemed to have a natural aptitude for card games, and he used this well to crush most of his opposition of the time.
He recorded his first tournament cash in a $1k tournament in Reno in 1987, following it up with his first victory in a $200 event, also in Reno, where he won $17,550. This win gave Hellmuth some wings, and in August that same year, he won his first $10k tournament for $125,000.
He kept grinding some of the biggest poker tournaments over the next year, winning several smaller events and amassing well over $100,000 in winnings before the next WSOP.
In 1989, Phil went to Vegas with a mission and successfully completed it. That year he was crowned champion in the $10,000 NLH World Championship, also known as the Main Event. Phil took home $755,000 in cash and his first WSOP bracelet.
While today Phil Hellmuth is known as one of the best No-Limit Hold 'em tournament players of all time, back in the 80s and 90s, he was often winning big in a variety of other games such as 5 Card Draw, 2-7 Lowball, 5 Card Stud, Pot Limit Omaha, and more. The early 90s were a true grind time for Hellmuth, who played tournaments across America and beyond and kept coming up as the winner in many of them.
In 1992, Hellmuth extended his WSOP record with another win in a $5k NLH event, also coming second in a different $2.5k NLH tournament and making three more final tables. He took care of any unfinished business he may have had that year in Vegas in 1993 when he added another three bracelets to his record.
That time around, Hellmuth was named champion in three NLH events, with buyins of $1.5k, $2.5k, and $5k, winning a total of more than $460,000, which was massive at the time. The list of Phil's final three finishes in non-WSOP events is too long to mention, but it is worth noting his win in the $5k Hall of Fame Championship in 1995, where he took home $236,000.
He would wait until 1997 to add his next gold bracelet, taking down a $3k Pot-Limit Hold 'em event, adding some variety to his list of WSOP events won.
Hellmuth's amazing WSOP run continued in 2001, when he won another NLH bracelet, final-tabled the Main Event (finishing fifth), and came second in an Omaha 8 tournament, the closest, he came to a non-NLH bracelet to that date. Just two years later, Phil would return to the WSOP and again dominate, winning a $2.5k and a $3k NLH events for more than $580,000 combined and coming very close in a $1.5k Limit Omaha event, where he finished third.
These were the years of the Poker Boom, and Hellmuth had quickly become a global phenomenon. His impressive record was already capturing the imaginations of players around the world, and he kept on trucking.
In 2005, Hellmuth won the National Heads-Up Championship, proving himself as a heads-up champion as well and winning a cool $500,000.
2005 was another amazing year for Phil, who won a $1k NLH event at the WSOP, came second in a $5k, and third in a $1.5k, for more than a million dollars combined, with events getting bigger and juicier each year. Incredibly enough, the poker champion returned in 2007 and once again won a $1.5k WSOP event with thousands of runners, winning $637,000 for his next bracelet.
It would be ridiculous to note every deep run and win Phil ever had, so jumping on to 2011 seems fair. That year, Hellmuth came second in the 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo Championship, second in the Deuce to Seven Draw Championship, and second in the $50k Players Championship, just nearly missing out on three major bracelets. Despite not winning any of these tournaments, Phil won more than $1.5 million for his efforts and gained even more respect among fellow pro poker players.
His first non-Hold 'em bracelet came in 2012 when he took down a $2.5k Razz event while also final tabling the $10k HORSE Championship and the "$1 Million The Big One for One Drop." As if that was not enough for one year, Phil traveled to Cannes in September 2012 and won the $10k Main Event there for over a million Euros, another bracelet, and yet another record.
Hellmuth's Razz prowess came in handy again at the 2015 WSOP, when he finally won the $10k Razz Championship, his first non-Hold 'em Championship bracelet. In 2018, Phil won another $5k NLH event for $485,000 and a slap in the face to anyone who was still disputing his tournament skills.
In 2021, he took home another mixed games bracelet, taking down a $1.5k Deuce to Seven Lowball event while also coming second in the $10k Dealer's Choice Championship tournament. The $28 million Phil Hellmuth net worth made in tournaments is not the only thing that makes him incredible, as he has also s proven himself in other formats of the game.
Most recently, Phil took on the likes of Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu (who attended WSOP 2022), Tom Dwan, and Scott Seiver in a series of high-stakes heads-up matches, where he absolutely dominated the field. Yet, even today, Phil's actual poker skills remain a subject of discussion in the poker community, as his often unorthodox and mathematically incorrect plays frequently brought him wins in key spots over the years.
Despite all that, there is no denying that Phil Hellmuth is one of the all-time greats in tournament poker, and his records speak for themselves.
Having won 16 separate WSOP events, two of which were Main Events, and having reached 64 final tables, Phil Hellmuth is an icon of the Series and the poker world at large.
The Birth of the Poker Brat – Phil Hellmuth Table Antics and Drama
While many successful poker players tend to be fairly humble, Phil Hellmuth is one of the brashest people in the poker world, which has earned him the nickname "The Poker Brat." The number of incidents in which Phil called people idiots or morons for how they played a poker hand at the table is too large to count, and many of those moments were recorded by TV cameras.
Despite being in the public spotlight, the Poker Brat appears unable to control his emotions when playing poker, often tilting beyond anything we usually see from professional poker players. In 2021, Hellmuth even threatened to burn down "The Rio," the casino in which the WSOP was played for many years and where he won many of his poker silverware.
Phil's desire to win often gets the best of him, and despite acknowledging his errors, he continues to make them time and time again. While the Poker Brat is generally beloved throughout the poker community, some people have been getting ticked over the last couple of years. Indeed, it seems that Phil's brash personality has brought him to a point where other players no longer wish to tolerate the insults and would much rather just play on equal footing.
It remains to be seen what the future brings, but one would expect Phil to start acting his age at some point and stop with the insults and trash talking as he quietly approaches 60 years of age.
Phil Hellmuth Net Worth – How Much Is the Poker Superstar Worth?
Unlike businessmen or other famous people, poker players often make money well outside the public spotlight, which is the case with Phil Hellmuth.
The Poker Brat has won over $28 million in poker tournaments over the course of more than 40 years, which has significantly added to Phil Hellmuth's net worth. Yet, it is likely that Phil has made even more through media appearances, sponsorship deals, and the sales of his books "Play Poker Like the Pros" and "#Positivity."
Phil also often boasts about winning big in private cash games, although such claims are generally mocked by the poker community, as most don't believe him even to try playing in the truly high-stakes cash games out there. Despite all that, Phil Hellmuth net worth is probably north of $50 million at this time, and his recent stints in the world of business may push that even further.
In recent interviews, Phil has discussed his board membership in several major companies and his dream of becoming a billionaire before his time is over. Hellmuth's net worth is certainly helped by him surrounding himself with billionaires, a number of whom he has met through poker and his activities in the world of business.
Whether Phil will ever be worth a billion dollars remains to be seen, but we could venture a guess that he will end his life with at least $100 million in possessions to his name.
Where Is The Poker Brat Today?
As you would expect from the great poker champion that Phil Hellmuth is, he is never in a single place for too long at a time. Hellmuth typically spends his summers in Las Vegas, getting involved in as much WSOP action as he can get into, while the rest of the year, he travels the world for many reasons.
He has given up traveling for poker too much in recent years, which certainly makes sense considering his age, Phil Hellmuth net worth, and the fact that the only tournaments he really cares about are all at the WSOP. Yet, you will often see Hellmuth playing in a variety of charity poker events, hosting private events and parties to raise money for various causes, etc.
Hellmuth's family currently resides in Palo Alto, California, where the warm climate and the proximity of many of the world's richest and most successful people seem to favor the Poker Brat just fine.
Who Is Phil Hellmuth?
Phil Hellmuth is a famous poker champion who was born in 1964 and had been playing poker for over four decades. Phil is one of the biggest winners in poker tournaments and one of the most legendary characters in the poker world.
How Many WSOP Bracelets Did Phil Hellmuth Win?
To date, Phil Hellmuth has won 16 WSOP bracelets, two of them coming from Main Events. The majority of his bracelets come from No-Limit Hold 'em events, although he has won several WSOP tournaments in other poker variations as well.
Is Phil Hellmuth the Best Poker Player of All Time?
If you ask him, he most definitely is! If you ask the general poker audience, the answer will not be so one-sided, but Phil Hellmuth has been one of the best tournament players throughout his career.
How Much Is Phil Hellmuth Net Worth?
While it is hard to gauge precisely, we gauge Phil Hellmuth net worth to be close to $50 million, including his poker tournament winnings, sponsorship deals, and other business-related activities.
Does Phil Hellmuth Have Any Children?
Yes! Phil Hellmuth is married to Katherine Sanborn, and they have two sons named Philip Hellmuth III and Nicholas Hellmuth.
How Tall Is Phil Hellmuth?
Phil Hellmuth is a very tall guy, standing at 6ft 7in, or 2.01 meters tall. If you have always wondered if Phil is a giant like you see him on TV, the answer is yes.
Is Phil Hellmuth in the Poker Hall of Fame?
Yes! Phil Hellmuth was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2007 for all his poker achievements and the fame he has achieved in the game. Of all the living poker players, Phil is one of the few who deserve the HOF spot the most.