Phil Hellmuth: 15 Gold Bracelets, $23 Million in Cashes, & Poker Hall of Famer

Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 031

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Phil Hellmuth on social media:

Today I am going to be speaking with one of poker’s superstars. Anyone with even a passing interest in poker during the last 20 years will certainly know who he is. 

My guest today is the one and only “poker brat” himself, Phil Hellmuth. 

Phil’s list of accomplishments and accolades in Poker is so long that it’s difficult to put it all together without missing something.

To name just some of the things that have made him one of the best poker players to ever take a seat at the table: 

– He is a member of the WSOP Poker Hall of Fame 

– In 1989 he became the youngest player to win the WSOP main event. A record that stood until 2008 when Peter Eastgate won the event.

– He holds the record for most WSOP cashes – 108

– He holds the record for most WSOP final tables – 52

– He has won more than $14 million in at the WSOP alone .

– He holds a record obliterating 15 championship bracelets.

Aside from appearing on TV during broadcasts of some of the tournaments he’s played in, he’s also appeared in many other televised games such as Poker After Dark, Hight Stakes Poker, and Late Night Poker. 

Just slightly outside of poker, Phil has also written several books including his autobiography, “Poker Brat”, several poker strategy books, and “Positivity: 8 Tips For Success”.

During my conversation with Phil, you’ll hear some of his best stories about a life playing poker and the places the game has taken him. 

He talks about the days when the only people who knew who professional poker players were were other professional poker players. He talks about what it was like to go from obscurity to a poker celebrity recognized all over the world, and, of course, what it’s like to carry the reputation of being “the poker brat”.

There are very few players that have played as long as Phil Helmuth has and remain active and successful in the game … And he shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. 

This episode was originally aired live on YouTube. If you didn’t catch the live broadcast, you’ll be glad you didn’t miss this chance to get a candid peek inside the world of one of poker’s living legends. 

I thank you once again for listening. And now, without any further ado, this is Phil Hellmuth on Chasing Poker Greatness. 

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Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 031: Phil Hellmuth

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Brad: Yo, what is happening? Welcome back to another episode of Chasing Poker Greatness. I’m your host, Brad Wilson and today I’m going to be speaking with one of the legends of the game. Anybody with even a passing interest in poker during the last 20 years will certainly recognize the name of the poker Brad himself, Mr. Phil Hellmuth. Phil’s list of accomplishments and accolades in poker is so long that it’s difficult to put it together without missing something. To name just a few of the things that have made him one of the best poker players to ever sit down on the green felt. He’s a member of the WSOP Hall of Fame in 1989, when he won the WSOP Main Event, he was the youngest player to ever do so. He has won 15 championship gold bracelets, all told, he has $14 million plus in winnings at the WSOP alone. Aside from appearing on TV during broadcasts of some of the tournament’s he’s played in, he’s also appeared in many other televised games such as Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, and Late Night Poker. Phil has also written several books, including his autobiography, Poker Brat, several poker strategy books, and positivity, eight tips for success. During my conversation with Phil, you’ll hear some of his best stories about a life playing cards and the places the game has taken him. He talks about the days when the only people who knew who other professional poker players were, were other professional poker players. He talks about what it was like to go from obscurity to a poker celebrity recognized all over the world. And of course, what it’s like to carry the reputation of being the poker brat. There are very few players that have played as long as Phil and have remained active and successful in this game, and he shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. So, with all of that said, and without any further ado, I thank you once again for listening. And now this is Phil Hellmuth on Chasing Poker Greatness. 

Brad: Phil, we’re live. How we doing my man?

Phil: What in the world can I complain about?

Brad: I don’t know. What can you complain about?

Phil: Well, sometimes the table a little poker brat comes out, but I really can’t complain about anything. Life’s amazing.

Brad: Seven minutes to get in the lighting, right? I think maybe, maybe just not having perfect lighting all the time, shining down on your face.

Phil: Well, you want to the lighting perfect. I didn’t care that much. But you might as well, we might as well look good you know.

Brad: The record, let the record state. I wasn’t recording it. So, I guess it didn’t happen. It’s my word versus your word. I wanted to start out a little light note. I actually I was reading an interview. I believe it was the one that you did at Cardplayer Lifestyle with Robbie Stravinsky. I don’t know, it was it a tweet, a tweet. Maybe today. You got booed by 250,000 NASCAR fans. How did that happen? What’s the story of that?

Phil: I mean, you know, it’s pretty standard for me. I mean, like, you know, I mean, I play a bad boy. Right. So, I was asked to go to a NASCAR race. I want to say an O seven. And could have been Oh, five. I don’t remember. But anyway, I went with Robby Gordon. And you know, it was fun. I mean, the NASCAR guys have their own trailers. And so, I was in the trailer. I knew that Jeff Gordon was a poker guy. There’s a bunch of other guys in NASCAR that are poker guys that love the game. I thought it’d be fun and so I showed up and Robbie was really nice. We, we hung out a fair amount over the weekend. We went to the drivers meeting that’s a big thing. So, Troy Aikman there Troy’s one of my guys, really good friends with, with a friend of mine in Dallas. Just everything’s fun. And then they introduce the drivers, and it was Robin Leach. You know the guy from

Brad: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Phil: Yeah. Give me, give me, give me a Robin Leach impression, you have one?

Brad: Oh man. No, no, I don’t have a that’s like, I remember it, but it was a little bit before my time.

Phil: But now we’re at Phil Hellmuth’s house. Fabulous house in the Impala. Though you know, I don’t know, I have no idea to the Robin Leach. But anyway, they’d introduce you, you’d walk across the stage and you get in a pickup truck and the pickup truck, I’d go with Robby Gordon and the pickup truck would go around the track pretty fast. You’re sitting in the back, probably not the safest, safest. You know, because but whatever. I mean, they’re not going to, and I’m sure they don’t want to kill any celebrities. And so, they’re like, the whatever. This time, I was like, whatever, 10 times. The nine-time world champion of poker, Phil Hellmuth, and just the place is raining down with boos. And this is right before the race starts and I’m like, oh my god, I have a quarter million people booing me and I turned a little bit like, I’d say white or something. I was just like, this is so brutal. And Robby Gordon’s, like it’s okay, Phil, it’s okay. He could see I’m a little upset. It’s okay. It’s okay. And then, within a couple minutes, introduce Jeff Gordon. The same level of booing. And I was like, yes. It’s one thing if you’re the only guy that gets booed to another if they’re booing a legend like Jeff Gordon. So yeah, so that was the time I was booed. And then, you know, and then when we do the World Series of Poker, I remember, you know, when we did in the Penn and Teller theater, and I show up there and they’re, they’re kind of like, it’s all Hall of Famers on the stage. And, and I’m looking around, and I’m like, 45, and I feel like I’m 30. And I’m looking at everybody else who looks like they’re 80. And I’m like, wow, I’m really in the poker Hall of Fame. This is cool. I guess I’m the youngest one, which I was and they introduced mine Doyle Brunson. Everybody’s cheering and going crazy, Phil Hellmuth booed the hell out of me. But then I couldn’t leave without doing pictures and autographs for an hour trying to get out of that theater. And I thought, you people are freaking booing me. And you all want my autograph and picture. This is bullshit. But I mean, it’s part of you know, it’s part of you know, being a bad boy, I think.

Brad: The persona of Phil Hellmuth. Does it ever get to you? Does this booing ever affect you negatively?

Phil: Well, it really bothered me. It really bothered me at the NASCAR race, because that’s a quarter million people just booing you.

Brad: That’s a lot of people.

Phil: Yeah. You don’t want to be booed.

Brad: Yeah. Why? Why they, why they booing you?

Phil: You don’t want a good live on ESPN by like everybody in the theater. I mean, I was just thinking, come on, man. Things change, though. I mean, you can be you know, I think, I think the last two years, I’ve never had so many random people come up to me and tell me that they love me. To me, that’s weird, you know, random guy. I’ve never met Phil, we love you, Phil, I love you. I was just like, wow, what is going on here? I always thought becoming the bad boy would eventually flip. Right? I mean, at one point, everybody, they hated Muhammad Ali. And he became the biggest athlete in the world. I’m not comparing myself to Muhammad Ali. But on a much smaller scale, I always felt like, you know, people would see that I’m a good guy. I’m a guy that’s never cheated on his wife in 30 years. I’m a guy that you know, not a drug guy. I’m not an alcoholic, I’m pretty reasonable in a lot of ways. And so, I figured that would come out. And I’d have a lot of fans eventually. I just didn’t think that I’d get booed for 10 years.

Brad: I can say, anybody that has had any experience with you, and I’ve been in poker for 15 years, they’ve all been positive experiences. Like they, everybody’s had nothing but good things to say. A lot of times it’s away from the table, hanging out, go going out to eat and drinking and all that, you know, all that stuff. Everybody has been very gracious and kind and super nice. I mean, just nothing but positive things.

Phil: It’s kind of crazy. The poker world knows me. You know, the poker world knows me well. Because these are the guys that I hang out with. And you’re right. It’s been nothing but positivity from the poker world, which is great. But unfortunately, there’s still 100 million out there on the public that aren’t quite sure. I think by now most of figured out, you know, after my book positivity after all the stuff I do. You know, I think most people, it’s just authenticity. So, I think my authenticity has shined through and I’m, well either starting to realize it.

Brad: Yeah, either way. It’s emotion, right, whether it’s negative or positive. And I would say that if you’re creating this emotion in people outside of poker, you’re doing the game of poker a service by getting more people involved and more eyeballs on the game. And that’s something that I did want to talk to you about is sustainability and poker and growing the game. Could you tell me your thoughts on players coming up today? The young guns, what can the community as a whole do to ensure poker is sustainable and continues to grow well into the future?

Phil: First of all, most of the young guns I really like. They’re very cool guys. And there’s very few that I, there’s very, no one do I dislike or hate, but there’s quite a few that I really like. And you know, and we’ll, we’ll go to dinner with or we’ll have a few drinks with or hang out with. And like a lot of the Germans pretty seem to be pretty cool guys. And so really there’s a lot of me liking young guns. I think that for some reason, they don’t quite have the personality of a Negreanu, me, or some of the other old school guys. And I, you know, you try to figure out, why do we have more personality, you know, than a lot of the crop of great young players. And it’s, I don’t even know the answer. Except that, you know, we had to somehow survive. You know, when conditions were not ideal in the poker world.

Brad: It’s really weird, because there’s more people now, then back then by a huge factor. So, like, it just seems like from a pure number game perspective, like some, some amazing personalities emerge, and, you know, take poker into the next generation.

Phil: You’re right, you’re right. Yeah, that’s a good point, too. I mean, I look at Mike “The Mouth” Madison, I look at me, I look at Negreanu, I look at all these guys. And you’re right, we have millions, really, I think of 100 million people started playing poker on the internet. And of all those people that started showing up and playing in real world tournaments. It’s surprising that there’s not, you know, someone obvious to hand off the personality titles to you know what I mean, not that I’m ready to hand off titles, I continue. I’m going to continue I think to win for a long time, I just had a second, the third in Europe would have been really sweet to pick up race at number 16 there. I just saw this really cool video that showed the, the bracelet vintage, you see that one? 

Brad: I didn’t.

Phil: So, they show World Series of Poker bracelet starting in 1975 on YouTube. And it’s a, it’s a thing where you know, where, where they have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And then each person represents a line. And I’m watching and I’m watching and 92, all of a sudden, boom, I won three in ’92, and one in ’93, and one in ’94. All of a sudden, boom, I’m the fifth place. But to kind of watch, you know, and then and then I and then there’s a place where we’re all four of us are tied at nine and everybody’s talking about the bracelet race in ’03. And then Shannon Brunson go to 10 before me. And then I catch him. And I go to 11, 12, 13 but it’s a very cool video on YouTube, kind of culminates a half of a lifetime of work for me. And we’re where we’re going or am I just bragging?

Brad: I have to get, I think he got into brag mode. We’re talking about making poker sustainable. And my

Phil: My wife tells me that right now my egos a little high. So

Brad: These, the knees come down, come down a notch. Now I think, I think that players that have been playing for a very long time understand the entertainment aspect of the game and understand the value of making the game fun for the players they play against. And I come from a cash game background. And you know, I’ve played a ton of hours at the commerce casino playing high stakes poker and one thing that all the cash game guys know is we’re half entertainers. And that make the game enjoyable so that people come back. And like, if people love playing with you, that’s great. Because then they tell people right like they tell people to play poker. It’s, it’s super fun, all this stuff. And I think that the generation before me just really got that, in a way that maybe, maybe the generation now doesn’t. I’m not sure.

Phil: I’m not even sure it was intentional that we knew we were entertainers. I mean, I think we just you know, at that point, we’re just trying to make a living and would show up and play.

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: It wasn’t until, wasn’t until kind of like poker just took off, that we realized, wow, you know, we’re having this huge influence on the game. I mean, to me, it feels good to be you know, one of the guys that you know, that, that people want to watch on television, and even now today when I film stuff, it’s pretty cool. You know, I had, I had Draymond Green on the other day, that after we’re done with this interview, I’m going to go play a high stakes game at my friend’s house. They want to get any names but you know, we’re going to have a new Golden State Warriors are playing tonight not dream mon because the Warriors played at night, more of an ex guy and so that’s going to be fun. And you know, and, and that to me, I don’t know, I like, I think it’s all about who you play with. And I don’t have, the most fun I have is playing with my regular group. And, you know, we were playing the small, you know.

Brad: Sure.

Phil: It was like no reasonable pro would have shown up to play 5-10 and you know, because it’s just hard when you’re used to playing 50 and 100 or, and, you know, I, I became great friends with this group, but I will say to your point, poker is a lot about, you know, you want to be playing with people that are fun to play with, that are interesting, that will talk to you, they’ll ask you about your day. I mean, you want to feel some camaraderie.

Brad: What about the rules in the poker tournaments? You know, the, minimizing the talking. I always thought it was like the coolest thing when I was reading books, dreaming about being a professional poker player, showing somebody your cards, getting a reaction that, that the gamesmanship like that, like, in my opinion, I think all of that needs to be back in poker. What are your thoughts about the, the social aspect of it like that?

Phil: I mean, that’s huge. As you know, in a cash game, as a cash game player, there’s times where you know, you flop a set, comes 2, 3, 4, and you have a sudden deuces, and you’re trying to figure out now a seven comes off, and I don’t know, maybe the flush hits, and the guy’s made a big bet. You’re trying to figure out, you know, is he betting aces and, you know, is he betting whatever, two pairs he bet, you know, and you’re really trying to make a determination and the old days, I could just flip the setup.

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: And they’d look at it. And I’d be like, oh, my God, they don’t want me to call, call. And so that Jedi mind trick of having, being able to expose your cards and then making a great call. To me, that’s all, all about poker, that’s what poker is. And you know, is reading your opponents. And when they eliminated, that, the ability to show cards on the river, you know, against a single opponent, I felt like it was an attack against me and my skills. I really felt personally attacked. I’m like, why did they change that? Are they trying to make reading abilities less part of the game, and I, and I, and I complained about it? And I went public and said, this is bad for poker, I think so. But they got rid of this stuff, man. I mean, we’re talking about back in 2000, or something, or ’99, the ability to show hands and, and so now, I mean, you know, I mean, you can still say you can still say things like, you know, if you have jacks, you can still say well, wow, I’m really crushing tennis. 

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: And that’s okay. And you can get the read that way, but it’s not quite as, so, I yeah, I’m on your side on that one. I mean, I think that it just adds more skill to be able to show your cards in a meaningless spot on the river. I mean, why wouldn’t you be able to show your whole cards? I, I felt like it was almost a personal attack on me and, and I brought it up with all the rules makers, and they never even really considered changing that rule back.

Brad: Yeah, it’s, the thing is like, it works both ways. All this information, all the talking. I’ve seen Daniel talk on I believe it was high stakes poker, he’s talking, talking, talking, trying to get information. I believe it was against Antonio Esfandiari. And he said something and then boom, Esfandiari called like it, because Daniel gave something away, right? Like when you turn your cards over, you can close your eyes, like your opponent can close their eyes, like they can work on controlling their emotions. Giving reverse tells, like this is part of the game and it just, like it, now it’s like I hear the word angle shooting a lot, and it just drives me nuts. Where it’s like, yeah, like I’m going to say, okay, I have a good hand on the river and try to get good information. I mean, it’s a social game. Like

Phil: No one’s ever accused me of angle shooting by saying oh, I have queens crushed, never heard that before.

Brad: Yeah, just seems people say angle shooting a lot. Like it feels a little overused. But

Phil: Yeah, I think it’s a, you’re right. I think that term is overused. The real angle shooters are people that I’ve had trouble with my whole life, because you come in with all the integrity, all the honesty, and you live your life at such a high level, you know, and then there’s other people that just like they’re just trying to, they’re doing angle shoots, what are they winning with their angle shoot an extra $50, an extra $100? Don’t they understand that we look at them differently the rest of their lives for that. And so, you know, that’s, that’s, I’ve been probably a little bit too cruel to guys that are angle shooters throughout my career, you know, and probably just need to step back. And there’s one or two guys that are angle shooters that I’ve just kind of tried to completely forgive in my mind, because I’m just like, my inclination towards them is like

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: No, I mean, I don’t want to even see that person. But

Brad: Oh I’ve, I mean, I’ve seen my fair share of angles, too, right. And it’s like, the thing is like when you’re, when you’re a pro, shooting angles is diametrically opposed to your intention of playing with integrity, building the game, helping people have a good time. So, like, I don’t see pros, like pros, pros really even attempting anything like that. But, I do want to talk about, so white magic. Let’s talk about, I want to do my best to deconstruct white magic because I think live reads are something that a lot of people minimize. And I think they are just insanely valuable. When, when did you decide to start focusing on improving your life read skills?

Phil: Well, to me, poker was all about you, you have to understand the trajectory of poker. Okay. And we’re talking about who kept getting there are no limit hold’em parents, all the guys with the reads, they were the guys who were getting there. So, by the time 2001 rolled around before, right before the boom, you know, the guys I was most worried about, are guys who were really great at reading people. Negreanu, you know, and I think High Miller was pretty good at reading people down High Miller. And they were there was kind of a little bit of a list and you’re like, wow, these guys are, you can’t bluff them. I mean, they’re just tough. And so, and then all of a sudden, the world fell upside down. All of a sudden, we had a million people come in from the internet. And you know, and everybody talking about strategy, and everybody talking about, oh, well, this is the way to play a hand that no, that’s the way to play a hand. No, this is the way and all of these guys with strong math backgrounds came into the world. For me, it was like a gift. I was like, woohoo. I mean, all these guys were just too easy to read, that made all this money in the internet, because they didn’t have to disguise themselves all of a sudden. And then all of the guys were having strong reads, not Negreanu. But all the other guys that had strong reads, I had to worry about less and less, because now we had 1000 players at every tournament, the five guys who are good at reading, not only did I not have to face them, but then they started to wonder if they were champions anymore. So, they started questioning their abilities. And Negreanu has questioned his abilities for a long time. He’s my boy. I really like him. I’ve never said anything negative about him in public ever, he’ll attack me sometimes. But I mean, he’ll start doubting his own amazing reading abilities. And it’s cost him in my opinion, a couple of bracelets, you know. All of a sudden, and oh, nine, I just remember him telling me that these guys are the best. They’re right. And I’m not paying attention. And they’re going to all, they’re all and I’m not going to win again, because they’re all better than me. And I crushed everybody, 2000, there was a 2012, 2013, I finished second player of the year, back to back years, and was just getting there all the time. And, and people don’t quite understand how I’m getting there. They look and they say, Phil’s poker is not mathematically sound. And here’s the beautiful thing. You have this generation, and I call it like a like a fist, right? And they’re just traveling through and they’re like, this is the way to play. No, this is the way to play. No, this is. And they pick off all the stragglers. So, if somebody goes bust, it’s like they shoot them. And they’re like, what are you doing? You need to be with us. And so, everybody’s playing it like this, and like this, and like this. So, I just have to look and say, alright, what are the fundamental flaws in the way they’re playing? What are the fundamental flaws in GTO? Well, I can think of two. All right, and so how do I take advantage of those two flaws? All right. And.\ it’s a matter of then, you know, using my reading abilities to take advantage of, of situations would seem, you know, relatively simple to me. You know, I mean, someone of course, they’re going to do exactly this, because they were trained to do exactly this. Alright, so that means all right, if I know that I’m going to move in with, you know, ace seven on the button, and I have 14 big blinds in front of me. And I guess the math says, that’s a move every time, then I’ll just open for 2x. And if someone re raises me, then I can use my reads to determine whether or not I’m going to call. And, you know, and I everybody thought I was so wrong. And then Shaun Deeb started doing exactly what I was doing in 2014. And it’s like, Phil, I started, switched over to your way, but still, no one else has switched. And then Sean Davis started winning all these tournaments. And so, it’s amazing to me that you know, that you know, because I think, hang on to 12 big blinds is a huge stack, you know, I play whole tournaments with 12 big blinds. And if I can then get it in a little while later in a spot where I have to go, say, with pocket 10s. Or even, even I might have aced Deuce, but the button raises and I move in, because I don’t think they’re going to call, you know, and so I mean, to me, you know, the fundamentals that are taught to everyone else, aren’t right. And thank God because I wouldn’t just continue to win beyond that. Even if they finally do get all the fundamentals correct. Then, you know, I hope that, you know, they still have to look at me, you can’t, you can’t wear a hotdog mask. You can’t do that. I mean, it’s not you know, we’re outlawing that. So,

Brad: It’s interesting to me talking about the stragglers joining the fist. That’s a very visual way to put it. And it makes sense because they’re desperate, because they’re not winning. So, they want to latch on to some sort of path or some sort of hope that they think will lead them to success. Right?

Phil: Right. And they tell their friends, I busted on this, and I put it that way. Everybody’s like, what are you doing? They just shoot them. That’s ridiculous. You can’t play poker like that, learn the right way to play. And so, they’ve taken the straggler and push them into the fist. Just more, more, more people, that’s easier for me to pick off. Now I can pick off the whole poker world, instead of you know, whatever current there, you know, and so, so I like this, this is good for me. And you know, you could, you could come back and say, well, Phil, you’re delusional everybody else is right. I mean, and that’s, that’s one theory. It couldn’t be my delusion, except that I just keep getting there. And so, then I don’t think people know what to do with me.

Brad: Yeah, it, you keep having success. And yet, you’re delusional. So maybe you’re just the luckiest human that’s ever sat down at a poker table. Or maybe you just know something that other people don’t?

Phil: Well, they see all these pots, I lose where I’m a big favorite. And so, they can’t attribute it to me being the luckiest. So, they have to attribute it to something. They don’t, they don’t honestly understand what I’m doing. I mean, Antonio Esfandiari was one of my boys who I really liked a lot. You know, he was doing the commentary for the 2012 WSOP. And he was just like, I don’t understand what’s happening. I don’t, like the number of times he said, I don’t understand what Hellmuth is doing, was like, funny. And I mean, you know, he’s, I think, a great player.

Brad: I think it’s interesting that in almost all professions, like you can reverse engineer right, you can you can look at what you’re doing and kind of reverse engineer the strategy and implement it into your game. And I want to go back to the white magic, what, what is your process look like for cultivating this, this ability to read people like on a daily basis? And especially like, in the beginning, I guess, when you were had, you know, you’re going to realize the most gains early on, right? What did that look like?

Phil: Well, I mean, you know, in the ‘80s, when I was coming up in poker, we played I basically just played pot limit hold’em, mostly, you know. And for years, that’s all I would play when I lived in Madison, Wisconsin. And so, in playing a lot of pot limit hold’em, you learned to read people, just a natural instinct. Now I tried to teach a lot of people, 50 people how to read people, and they couldn’t do it. So, makes me wonder, you know, there was a very famous book written called EQ, I think it was by Daniel Goleman. And he talks about learnable star qualities. I don’t think reading people’s learnable star quality, I think you can only go so far. So, I think there’s a ceiling for most people on the planet on where their reads can be. And so that protects me because, because I happen to be one of those guys who’s great at it, and I don’t think you can teach it. So, I feel like you know, well protected for the next few years as far as playing no limit hold’em goes. The process, though, for me, good question was to say, alright, what does he have? Right? He’s raised, he’s re raised. And I’m like, All right, I’m pretty sure it’s queens, jacks ,or 10s. All right, now, it doesn’t look like queens, because he did that, could be Jack’s or 10. So narrow it down to two hands. And I just take a flat guess, right? It seems more like 10s. Well, the number of times I hit the, the actual hand on the head scared people, in the games I was playing, and they’d be like, holy shit, I have 10s. How did you know? And so, and they’d flip up the 10s and show me or I’d say like, it has to be a scam, because you over bet or whatever. And they’d flip it up, and they’d say, holy shit, how do you know? And so, people were a little flipping out at how I could, you know, basically, you’re talking about, you know, reasoning, deduction, right? I mean, you have to, you have to use a manner of deduction. And people do look a certain way. I mean, the easiest hand coordinated Doyle’s book, you know, to read, and I didn’t read this book, but I heard this about his book was, that was two aces. And when your opponent has the best possible hand, and you’re a top professional player, you should always know that. And so, there’s just a different vibe that they give off. And so, start there. So, it happened to me the other day, you know, I mean, I was at the series where I don’t play a lot of cash games. I was down to $2,000. In town, it was during the series, I was about to press a button to have a couple 100,000 wired In. And Alan Keating me and my to do a game at the ARIA. And I’m like, okay, like, alright, just loan me 100 or whatever. So, whatever I need, and I sit down in the game, and, and I find myself with 158,000 front of me. And the guy under the gun, the blinds for two for open for 3k. He got called by the next two guys, which is unusual, as you know, first of all, it’s a huge and I made it 17,000. I got back to him, and he made it 44,000 and I just thought I’m going to put it all in and he’s going to do the quick look back to see its aces and snap the money in there. You’re walking right into the frickin, you know, Temple of Doom, you know. And so, I decided to fold the hand after like a minute. And I just couldn’t get around. He had aces, he had aces, he had aces. The guy had been playing very fast, though.

Brad: Good kings?

Phil: He had moved in with threes once for 40,000 kings. Yeah. And so finally I showed Alan and I showed the other guy and they thought I was fucking around, you know, I showed him. And they’re like, they’re like, what’s taking so long? Yeah. I’m up. The kings in the guy went crazy. And Alan tried to look at his whole cards, he wouldn’t show it. And every other time I folded things in my life. They showed me aces, but he swore to God, he had aces, and he kept when I quit, he kept, he stopped me. It’s like how did you know at aces and wanted all these detailed explanations? You know, so I mean, if he didn’t have aces, he went a long, long, long ways to convince me for no reason. Because I’ve only played with the guy once.

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: But would piss me off about the story is I haven’t had 150,000 my own money in front of me a long time and a cash game, you know.

Brad: Just snap. Get kings versus aces.

Phil: And then they gave me kings vs. aces. Come on, man, you know. I’d already lost like 160k. I had kings against 10s. I almost lost both boards on that one. So, I was just like, what is going on here? But, but I was proud of myself. And I left that book, the 17k win. I don’t think the 17k lasted me more than a week and I had to wire in a couple 100,000. But, but you know, I could easily you know, if won a couple 100,000 that game. You know, Allen put me in an amazing game. But you know, and so that’s just something I haven’t folded, kings in a couple years before the flop. And that’s one where it was just completely instincts.

Brad: Yeah, I folded kings, maybe three or four times pre, I’ve always been shown aces. And I can say that if he didn’t have aces, you’re, you’re probably going to get shown, just because, because you’re you and going to try to push you until by showing you whatever, whatever. But I would say that that’s a spot that’s probably aces, a giant open, giant squeeze. And then like a min for bet.

Phil: People are like, why didn’t you call 27,000 more and take a flop.

Brad: But you don’t have odds for one?

Phil: That’s pretty expensive. He did have me covered. So, I mean, if I do hit a king, then maybe I do get it all. And sometimes it comes in ace and a king. But yeah, you know, like a lot of times it just comes down to spore. And now what? I call the king

Brad: Yeah, now, now you’re setting yourself up to go broke. Because you now have an overpay. And you’re like, what am I doing? I called, I called and its deuce, deuce, four like, yeah, it’s a snowball effect. And maybe you have a million,

Phil: If you want, if you’re at home watching this interview, and you want to increase your reading abilities, then you know, I mean, just try to get other people’s hands, but make sure they’re people you can ask later. I mean, you might have a deal in place with some people and say, listen, I’ll show you guys five or six of my hands, if you show me five or six of yours, right? That kind of thing. Where everybody’s like, okay, cool, we’ll just say, hey, we’re all practicing our reading abilities. And then you know, try to guess, I think you had exactly jack. So, when they show it, you’re going to be like, whoa, you’re going to be like, and so I think that’s a good game to play that I talked about in my books, was trying to get someone’s whole cards.

Brad: It’s very interesting. Malcolm Gladwell puts it very well and Blink, if anybody out there hasn’t read Blink, the power of the subconscious mind and what you’re focusing on, but if you spend the energy and here’s the thing, if you’re playing live poker, you got a lot of downtime, right? Get your head out of your phone, pay attention to the opponents that you’re playing against their multiple, you have multiple opportunities to pick up these reads and practice your reading ability, just while you’re sitting there. And just you know, if you try to not be distracted by all the other things, and to me, you know, we talked about GTO, we talked about all these strategies. And like each gain is, can be incremental, very small. If nobody else is focusing on improving their reading ability. How much better does that make you when you become world class at it, right? Like, why increase 2% when you could increase 80% and have a giant edge over people? So obviously, I’m pandering to you right here. I think you’ve seen these.

Phil: You are what you think, you become what you think, what you think becomes reality. Yeah, that was, that was amazing for me to grow up and have that on my bathroom mirror and read that every day from my mother. And as I, as I said, you know, the gritty, the gritty part of that is, you know, there were seven of us that lived on one floor of a house. Nice house. By the way, seven of us, you know, my three brothers and sister, younger brother, my three younger sisters, my younger brother and my parents that took showers and so that that little sign would get like, you know, would start to get mildewy almost. And then, and then all of a sudden, one day look up, and there was same thing, but in a brand-new sign. And I mean, that really, that really taught me that, that, that I could, you know, kind of write my own script for life.

Brad: Why did she, why was she so, I mean, this is like a language thing, right? In a belief system. Why? What possessed her to put that up there?

Phil: Probably she wanted us to know that we could do whatever we want to do in life. And you know, people don’t get that message. No one gets that message. You know, it’s cool. I didn’t get it. Listen, I’d ADD. Right.

Brad: Me too.

Phil: So yeah, the best grades. You got a two?

Brad: Oh, yeah.

Phil: The best grades I ever managed to achieve. I mean, basically, my average was like a 2.8, 2.9.

Brad: 3.0. Yep.

Phil: Okay, you’re a little better than me. And then, you know, I remember I wanted to show the University of Wisconsin that I was smart. So, I actually worked really hard and got like a 3.68, or whatever it was, you know, my last kind of year of school, I wanted to show them that I deserve to be in the business school that I could apply myself. But they said no. And I was studying business and philosophy, which is basically poker. So, I went that direction. I gave being a professional poker player. I like, I loved poker. I love choosing my own hours, and kind of went that direction.

What is up, my loyal Chasing Poker Greatness listener? Coach Brad here and I just wanted to take a moment to ask you a simple question. How many times have you heard my guests and I speak passionately about the benefits of poker coaching. You get to expand your poker network, receive expert feedback you can rely on, and have your burning questions answered by a trusted mentor. Which brings me to the poker Power Hour, a series of 100% free live one-hour poker webinars, masterclasses and hand history breakdowns that kick off each and every Wednesday evening at 8pm Eastern Standard Time. The poker Power Hour will be led by me, coach Brad as well as some of your favorite chasing poker greatness guests. It will be your weekly guide for helping you plug your leaks, skyrocket your poker growth, expand your network of crushers and inevitably win more money on the green felt. The poker power hour is premium content and live only. There will be no free replays or view on demand and the content will eventually be released as paid training only. So, head to, opt in to the poker power hour and get for free today what you’ll have to pay for it later. Once again, to catch the poker power hour every single week, head to and join the email newsletter. Now back to the show.

Brad: What is the importance of language and self-talk? Like, how can it help propel people to greater things and your

Phil: Huge. You know listen, I was on a, I was on a trip with Peter Guber. Rob Lowe was with us. We went to Machu Picchu, we went to Galapagos Island. Well, Tony Robbins was supposed to be with us, but he had to bail the last minute. So, we were on the Tony Robbins plane. But we were talking about Tony and the way in his use of language, the way he believes that if we just use a few different words, a few different iterations, then it can have a powerful effect on our lives. And so that’s what Peter Guber was telling me that Tony has been great to me, Tony, Tony, who doesn’t know me well, but because of Peter, you know, a famous L.A billionaire, amazing guy, that Peters kind of vouch for me. And so, Tony has been in the back of my books, and he tells people to buy my book, positivity in his classes. That’s the biggest honor I could have bought. And so, I’m all about language too, writing things down. So, but in a different way, I think of the truth as being this blob, right, right here. And, you know, it’s I think it would almost being like, I’d call it a blob, that clay but maybe. And so, I think you can approach truth from this angle, and this angle, and this angle, and this angle. And so, when I talked to really, really smart people that understand truth, and I’m lucky to be able to talk to these amazing folks, you know, people that rule the world so to speak, they all have an understanding of truth, but from a different angle. And so, I’m like, yeah, and they’re like, yeah, we have we agree on almost all of our thoughts. Now so I mean part of part of what using languages to, you know, one of my eight life tips from positivity is to simply write down your yearly goals, 2019 goals and tape them on your bathroom mirror. So, you have whatever, 8, 9, 10 goals tape in your bathroom. And you see that every morning when you wake up, that’s using a language, and you’re not going to be able to write those goals in one day. I mean, if the people that are watching this, write them down the best you can, but you’re going to change a few words the next day, and the next day, after two or three days, you have the list just the way you want it, you tape it on your bathroom mirror, you know, and so that is a life tip that I came up with myself. You know, and my, my, my yearly goals are absurd, you know, always win three bracelets, win two WPT titles, you know, near the top of my list. Because, you know, I want to be the greatest poker player of all time. And by the way, that’s a goal that I wrote down in 1993. I wanted to be great at poker, but then in ‘93, after winning three bracelets, I said, alright, I’m going to be the greatest poker player of all time. How do we measure that? You measure it by starting like everybody else in the tournament, you can’t measure it. Some people are really good. As you know, as a professional poker player, some people are really good at schmoozing, they get into better game, some people are really good at borrowing money, some people so they because of other skills that are not related to just poker, they’re able to have an edge. Some people are like, they have a rich friend who’s like helping them staking them. Or they have a rich friend who says, hey, I can help you go collect some money for me or this or that. I’ve seen it all on Poker. The only way we can really know who’s great is sitting everybody down at the, in the same tournament and seeing who wins all the bracelets, who wins all the titles. We all know there’s some great cash game players whose names aren’t out there. But some of those cash game players, it might surprise you and your audience to know that they were broke a year ago or two years ago or five years ago. And you know, and how did they get back on their feet? They were good at borrowing money.

Brad: It’s not, it does not surprise me. That that would not surprise me at all. I mean, it’s a volatile lifestyle. And I think that there’s a lot of self-sabotage involved in poker, especially when you get to the highest of highs where

Phil: Huge self-sabotage is involved.

Brad: Yeah, and you know, money management your thing and like, and like I’m not picking on somebody like Bryn Kenney right, who buys into a tournament for half his net worth. But you do that enough, disaster will inevitably strike. It’s not

Phil: Bryn went public saying, you know, he did you know, saying that, you know, he was struggling a little bit financially nine months ago or whatever. There were rumors that you know, he was broke. So, what? I don’t I don’t have a problem with that. I think Bryn is an absolutely top player, fantastic player. But, you know, I mean, if he put himself in if, if a player puts themselves in a bind, where they have to be able to borrow money or depend on others to play in tournaments, is that player a great player?

Brad: Great player.

Phil: He’s a great player.

Brad: I believe he’s a great player.

Phil: But there might be 10 guys exactly what brings skinnies Kenney’s skill level, it can’t get staked. So, he happens to get steak and win some stuff. And I know, there’s some very talented players out there that are broke.

Brad: And they’ll, they’ll get an action, right, because other poker players recognize the skill and see it as, as investment opportunity. So, it’s like,

Phil: Yep.

Brad: It’s very hard to stay out of action if you’re an amazing poker player who’s like personable, easy to deal with, easy to talk to. If you’re a dick, and nobody likes you and your shooting angles. Maybe you don’t get staked when you go broke. But the nice guys, the guy, so I think in that sense, they can’t, they can’t afford to take more risks if they especially if they know that they’re back in action.

Phil: That’s right. That’s, that’s been cronies, to bring Kenny’s credit as he knows he can take more risks.

Brad: Yeah, he’s an

Phil: He chose a really good time to go on his own money in August, you know.

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: Led to a huge bank reform.

Brad: He definitely chose a good time. But and again, like, your net worth is your network, especially in poker, talk to people, make friends, be cool. And you just, even if you go broke, you’re back in action. But yeah, poker tournaments like you said, what about the high rollers? I mean, like the all-time cashless to me is a little questionable. Especially with like the 300ks and

Phil:  It’s a joke, the all-time cashless is an absolute joke. I mean, Antonio Esfandiari hadn’t won very many tournaments in his life. He wins one tournament for 18 million and all of a sudden, he’s you know, the leading the all-time money list. And, you know, what percentage did he have himself in that? I don’t know. There’s a lot of rumors saying he had a lot less than 20% of himself when he wanted

Brad: Even that’s 200k. Like, that’s still a shitload.

Phil: They had 10%, that’s 1.8 million, but he gets credit for 18 million.

Brad: Right.

Phil: You know, we know guys that have won some of these high rollers that have 3% of themselves. There’s one guy, there’s some stuff, I don’t go, I don’t mention names, but I know of a guy who’s allegedly at one and a half percent of himself or 2%, when he won one of these massive tournaments, so now he gets credit for all this money.

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: I mean, even, even the guys that they think are the great, they think are the greatest in the world, that because they’ve been doing well in high rollers. A lot of these guys, you know, we’ll have 20, will have, you know, 40% of themselves, 50%. And for years, they only had 10%. And so, plus they’re trading with each other. So, let’s just say you have 56% of yourself as one really famous guy ahead. And let’s just say you traded 5% with six other players, okay? So, effectively, you only have 26% of yourself, right? And so, you know, the all-time money list to me is a joke. And these guys walk around saying, oh, we’re the greatest players, and then they get support from some people like Eric Seidel. You know, I don’t know, Eric might have backed off that one, Daniel Negreanu, might have backed off that now. But they’re not the greatest players in the world, you have 20 guys that are playing in the high rollers, they’re not the greatest. And, you know, they’re good at being steak, they’re good at having 10% of themselves in tournaments. But if you look at those 20 players, three, or four or five of them are amongst the top 10 players in the world. So, let’s not mince words, let’s just say that you know, of the 20 guys who travel all around the world, three, four or five of them, are truly amongst 10 World Class players. So, we give them credit. But right now, the way the way it seems, you know, they’re, they’re considered oh, these 20 guys are the best in the world. No, they’re not. They’re not even close. And so that’s the way it’s viewed, because they’re out there playing, you know, but a lot of times, if we could get down to the truth, if you could see the whole truth, people would be like, wow, but they can’t see the whole truth. And so, you know, so I think that the high rollers are probably good for poker. They do make some people’s names, and some of these people will become great. But the high roller list is a freaking joke to me. I mean, I worked my ass off to get to 20 million, if you take the, if you take the $1 million buy in tournament where I cash for 2.8 million off of that list. And you look at me, and I’m at 18 million from $15100, buy ins and 5k buy ins and 10k buy ins, and you’re just like, wow, this is just unreal. I’m supposed to have that lofty perch, you know, and Negreanu is one of the guy who’s, who’s up there with me, you know, who’s done it and all the other tournaments. But you know, there’s not a lot of us that are up on that list. And so, you know, the list has become a joke. It’s untenable. And it’s not really it doesn’t really represent what it’s supposed to represent. 

Brad: And I think the car, car player, Player of the Year has turned into something else too, especially with like so many points being awarded. In the, the high roller events that only a few people, it actually becomes like, like you mentioned earlier, like a cash game, where the dude that the people that are really good at raising money to get in, get an action in these tournaments have a significant edge in both the all-time tournament, the cash list and the card player, player of the year. Alright, let’s, let’s move on to lightning round. I know you don’t have a ton of time. When you think of joy in your poker career, what’s the first memory that comes to mind?

Phil: I mean, I, I’ll tell you this, I think I’m a very, I think I’m a very joyful person. You know, I’m just having so much fun. I mean, I just think just last week, I mean, I was at a, I went to the NASCAR championships to support you know, Denny Hamlin, you know, I ran into Michael Jordan there, MJ and, had kind of a funny interaction with him. But I mean, you know, I mean, I’m, it’s my first NASCAR race. We don’t have the right credentials to get in the driver’s meetings are like, Phil go right on through, and I arrive and they’re like, welcome back. And I’m like, man, I’ve been to one race like 12 years ago. Welcome back is great. They still remember, and I’m just having a ball, you know, and I look around I see thousands of people. I’m the only one dressed in gold. But most people would be like, subconscious. I’m like, yeah, I’m supposed to be dressed in gold. Just having a blast. You know, I’m on the you know, I’m all the NASCAR legends are coming up to me. It’s, you know, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and, and all these legends, Tony Stewart, you know, and Tony Stewart’s two minutes away from getting into the pace car and he’s, he’s busy talking to me, you know. And so, it just, it just feels like I feel so spoiled. I’m out there just having so much fun. In Chicago on Friday. You know, I was last Friday, I was, you know, I was able to sit down with the Governor of Illinois for an hour and 40 minutes, JB Pritzker. He’s a great friend of mine. And just to sit there, he can’t talk to this. like three people in the world he can tell everything to. And I’m one of them. And so, you know, and I’m seeing an event the night before picking up 1.3 million in one night for charity. And the night before that I’m playing a high stakes poker game with Chicago billionaires winning 30,000. So, I’m just having so much fun, you know, a second, a third just jumping around. So, I seem to have a ton of joy in my life.

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: I really like what I’m doing. I’m having a lot of fun. Tonight, I can’t wait to go play in the cash game after we’re done. You know, joy in poker. Sometimes in poker, I just look like I’m too intense. The camera catches me, you know, going, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I’m on with ace king. This amateur called me with king, jack, and the jack on the river. What the fuck? The camera catches me being the poker brat. And, but I have a lot of joy. I mean, I was really having I have a lot of fun playing in World Series of Poker tournaments. I have a lot of fun playing in World Series of Poker Europe’s I have a lot of time a lot of fun playing and World Poker tours. It was pretty joyous. You know, winning my last bracelet in 2018, added the $5,000 buy in, turbo. And everybody’s like, well, Phil cannot possibly do well on a turbo. Because he’s all, this is all math. And I think they’ve had the 5k turbo four times. I think I have a ninth first and a sixth. Despite them saying Phil can’t possibly do well in turbo. So that kind of, I like that. I like hearing that. And it kind of encourages me this year, I finished sixth and that thing turbo had a real shot at a bracelet. But, but yeah, the joy of last year of just picking up that bracelet, it was a little bit more unexpected, I think. Because, you know, the levels go up kind of fast. And, and you know, I had a lot of chips going in. And you know, I think I had a chance for a great joyful moment because people say, oh, Phil is no good at online poker. And I popped in this online poker tournament for a bracelet and I was some, I’m just trying to cash and then all of a sudden, we get to 100. And I’m chip leader. And now they realize them ship later and they start hitting Twitter everywhere. How am you telling me then then I did a live thing. Couple people did live things of me. And then all of a sudden, we got to top 10 and I’m chip leader again. And unfortunately, in that one I think I finished fifth but that could have been a joyful. I mean, that’s cool, man. I’m in my sweet at the ARIA, playing

Brad: Poker things not so bad.

Phil: Yeah, I mean, so I mean, if you’re speaking of joy in poker, I seem to have a lot of joy, just in life. And, you know, the other side of that is sometimes an intensity and sometimes I can come off as a little barking at the table. And that’s me. I think everybody kind of knows that. And I think if I ever dress someone down or like whine, then they’re then I texting people and like, Phil whined at me and everybody’s like, join the club. Now you’re in.

Brad: Yeah, it’s like a rite of passage.

Phil: And I’m just like, really? But you know, and then of course, but they don’t catch us. I’m always apologizing to people and saying sorry, and shaking their hand. Sorry, I lost it. But, but it’s kind of there’s a lot of joy there. And I’m really, I’m really having a lot of fun. But I mean, my most joyous moments are, you know, winning World Championships, my most joyous poker moments.

Brad: Poker moments. Yeah, it’s a good thing that you waited so long to go back to NASCAR. You didn’t get booed this time.

Phil: Well, they didn’t put me in the, I was not introduced on stage. I think I would have probably been booed. But I don’t know.

Brad: If you could give to all poker players one book, what would it be and why?

Phil: I mean, I, I mean, I guess I’m promoting my own stuff. But I mean, I Play Poker Like the Pros is the book that I wrote. And it was filled with truth. And it became a New York Times bestseller because it’s filled with truth. My book, I think, is the best book for a beginner and the best book for an intermediate player that you can have. And the advanced stuff I didn’t touch on quite as much. But I think that it’s just filled with basic fundamentals. You want the perfect golf swing, this is it. You want the perfect strategies, these are those. So, I’m very proud of I Play Poker Like the Pros, and I just did a very solid job, I could go back and might change a couple of things, but not too much.

Brad: It’s very hard to write a poker book, it’s very hard to, it’s so organic, you know, things change, the game changes and strategies change over time that like after 15 years, it’s like, it’s really hard for something to stay relevant, especially in a game like poker. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about poker, what would it be?

Phil: Wow. Well, I would legalize online poker, if I could change, if I could wave a wand.

Brad: Yeah.

Phil: I would tell my friends to spend $160,000 with the proper committee. You know, back in 2012 because it took about 160,000 to make sure online poker was legal. They didn’t know it. I didn’t know it. I’d heard rumors. 

Brad: What do you mean? Well, I don’t even know. I haven’t heard this story.

Phil: Well, I mean, do you know what online poker got, became illegal?

Brad: I am. I do. I am aware

Phil: That one guy wanted to run for president. And he was doing a favor for someone else. He didn’t even run for president. So, they threw it on as a writer. Yeah, bill for last bill. So, I mean, like, it’s really ridiculous what happened to poker, but you had these committees and subcommittees, now normal people, you know, would be, normal people protecting businesses are going to be lobbying, lobbying for their businesses. And you know, I think Full Tilt, like being kind of the outlaws or felt like we have a legal argument to exist. Whatever, whatever philosophy or attitude that was, I think party poker dropped the ball. Because they should have been spending $200,000 a year to make sure to keep these laws out of committee. It’s not hard. I mean, this, it’s exactly what people do in the United States of America, they lobby for what they need. I don’t necessarily like the system. It, to me too many things that should be passed are, and too many things that shouldn’t be passed are, because people are spending money lobbying, but we dropped the ball with online poker. So, I would love to online poker cost a lot of us huge salaries and huge upsides and it may end up leading to some great things but it also costs millions of people you know who, who were making a living playing online poker. There were a ton of people are really good. Hundreds of thousands, you know, would still be doing well, I think.

Brad: And sponsorships, magazines. You’re talking about UIGEA, that was like 2006. Before, before Black Friday. Yeah, it’s definitely

Phil: No, I’m talking more about the enforcement. You know, the writer.

Brad: I thought the writer, the port bill in New Orleans was 2006. And that was when party poker pulled out of the US.

Phil: No, no, no. It was much later. The UIGEA, if you look it up, it was probably, I think 2012 but much later than ’06, but you can go ahead and look it up. I mean, you and I are, there are there were two bills passed, but the one that was really strong as the one that said, hey, we’re going to enforce this stuff. And boom.

Brad: Black Friday was no fun. Black Friday was no fun. I was, April 15 2011.

Phil: If I could change anything. I think it would be great for poker, online poker were legal in the US.

Brad: For sure. And like a lot of magazines went out of business because they lost sponsorship. I mean, a lot of revenue market share went way down. It’s really criminal that we played Texas Hold’em. And you can even play online poker in Texas. Like, come on, guys. Let’s get this shit fixed. What’s something people would be surprised you’re bad at?

Phil: Bad at? Huh? I don’t think in terms of me being bad at stuff. Let me think.

Brad: You good dancer.

Phil: Well, I, I was up for dancing. There. I was up for Dancing with the Stars. So, I had to hire for eight or nine hours. And I really learned how to dance. It’s not hard. But I spent eight or nine hours working on that. I mean, I think I’m a horrible tennis player. Let’s see. I think people would be surprised at how good I am at basketball. I mean, if we didn’t, we had the World Series of Poker. There were like five guys were better than me in the whole poker world when it came to shooting. And so, let’s see, what am I bad at? I don’t know, pass for the rest of that question.

Brad: All right, what would your wife say that you’re

Phil: Oh, I’m bad at sports betting a little bit.

Brad: Okay, a little bit. But that, that came out with too much enthusiasm to be a little bit. I think most people are bad at sports betting. It’s not a, it’s, its own thing.

Phil: My max bets generally, if my max bets $1,000 a game so it’s completely irrelevant to my lifestyle.

Brad: Right.

Phil: Which is lucky.

Brad: Animate it, it’s fun, right? You get a sweat, you enjoy the game a little more.

Phil: I love, I really like the NFL. So, you know, for me, it’s kind of fun to watch the games.

Brad: What’s a project you’re working on this near and dear to your heart?

Phil: I’m talking about doing positivity too, which would be you know, my next book. I haven’t started yet. But that’s eight. Would it be as eight titans of industries, you know, tips on how to be successful. So, Elon Musk, and you know Sheryl Sandberg and you know, Jack Dorsey and Chamath Palihapitiya. So, you’ll have to get these folks committed to the book. Some will come and some won’t. But that’s going to be a really fun book that I think could help a lot of people. You know, the way they think as far as business success goes. I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve joined seven different advisory boards now. So, I’m having a lot of fun with that. It’s fun to be involved with some cutting-edge stuff and to be involved with some stuff as simple as, you know, lasso. We we’re selling you know, compression socks, that, you know, James Harden wears every day, unpaid. They’re so good. And so, you know, being a part of, you know, endgame talent agency, where the valuation of the company has gone to Decca millions quickly, you know, because what are we doing? We’re representing eSports athletes, endgame talent agency is and we’re bringing money to them through, you know, all the sponsors that want to get to that demographic. And so, there’s a bunch more that I could mention and go into, but it’s really fun to be valued. You know, I mean, the CEO, startup CEOs, they call me and we have long talks about stuff. And they really value what I have to say, which is pretty cool. Because I haven’t technically built a company of my own. I’ve been a part of it

Brad: How did you become valuable to them? Like what, like, just learning over time? What, what did that process look like?

Phil: Well, my value, you know, being reasonable goes a long way, right? Being reasonable and having been there, and I’ve seen companies built from nothing. I’ve been a part of companies that have built from nothing. So reasonable is a huge, huge, huge part of it, how to deal with high net worth investors, I can help them with that. And then also, a huge part of my value comes from the fact that I know you know that I that I’m really good friends with Chamath Palihapitiya, with Bill Gurley, with Billy and David Sachs, my friends have these funds, Rick Thompson, Jason Calacanis, that those mentioned those six names I just mentioned, they have five funds, you know, that are worth billions of dollars. And so, you know, if I like an idea, I can pick up the phone and call any of them and say, hey, let’s have a meeting. Can you can, can you get, can you schedule my company and I end to raise some money. And that’s enormously value for, valuable for, you know, early stage companies. Most early stage companies aren’t even ready for that yet, that I’m involved with, but eventually they will be. So, you know, I guess, I guess its connections, my connections help so much. And then it’s been, I didn’t necessarily understand that I’d be so valuable, just being reasonable and seeing out potential outcomes for companies. But that’s been fun for me.

Brad: And I would say it speaks a lot to you, as a human being at all these connections that you’ve made, and all the people that enjoy being around you. Regardless of your poker talent, or your poker ability, you got to be a cool dude, to foster and have these relationships.

Phil: You have to be either really cool or either really authentic. I haven’t discovered which one I am. I’m reasonable and authentic. So, you can you can argue that I’m that I’m not cool, but a purely authentic and straight up. I’ve done some pretty cool things in my life. But you

Brad: They got to like you, you know, they have to like being around you’re spinning around with you, right?

Phil: I am super well liked, everybody. It’s amazing. People want to be around me. There’s no bullshit. There’s no backdoor stuff. I’m not asking my friends for anything, either. And, you know, most of these billionaires, they’re, they’re surrounded by people that want to, they’re asking for something.

Brad: Absolutely.

Phil: I never asked for anything. They never asked me for anything. And then your relationship, you know, it’s easy to form a friendship based on, hey, who are you? And what are you doing? And you know, what kind of person are you?

Brad: I was friends with the billionaire in Los Angeles and made it a point to never ask for anything. Because I saw all the people and I saw it’s actually an interesting life that billionaires lead as far as not knowing who to trust and not knowing which relationships are authentic and genuine. And it’s, it’s quite a struggle. I mean, my friend, I saw, I saw the struggle in his life as far as finding authentic relationships. Because it’s, most people have an agenda. Right?

Phil: Right. And you can be authentic with him not asking for anything, and he can call you and ask you for advice, because he’s getting the unvarnished truth. And that means something.

Brad: Right. I have no.

Phil: You can call you to hang out with them come over to his house and do stuff with them, or be on the jet with him. Because you’re not asking for anything.

Brad: Right. It just made it, yeah, it was super insight, having that relationship and seeing all the inner workings and like, oh, when people say that happiness, that money doesn’t buy happiness. Yeah, they’re right. Like this people, some people have all the money in the world and no authentic genuine relationships. And it’s, it’s tough. I mean, I hate, I hate talking billionaire problems, but like, it’s really, it really is, right. Final question, Phil, and I’ll let you go crush some billionaires in a cash game. Where can the chasing poker greatness audience find you on the World Wide Web?

Phil: Yeah, I mean, is a good place. You know another, another fun one for me is I’m involved in starting a new clothing line called Poker Bratz with the Z on it. Poker Bratz and we’re doing some really cool stuff but I mean, socks and underwear and t shirts. And it’s just like, if you like casinos, I mean, some of our stuff fits well. So that’s a fun one for me. You know, and I’ll be, I’ll be filming on the Poker Go app, I’m on the poker Go app all the time. I’ll be filming December 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th to 500 and 1000 game. Right now, I have 100% of myself, I might sell 50 to my, to my friends, but it’s going to be 500 and 1004 days in a row. And then holidays with Hellmuth is also on the poker go app on December 19, which is live. And so, you know, I mean, I think, I think, I think I was meant to help a lot of people on the planet. And I think my book Hashtag Positivity, which you can only buy at, I think I’m going to sell a million copies of that, it’s been slow, but I think I’m going to sell a million copies of that and I’m going to help tons of people with eight simple life tips. So, I mean, I think you know, I would encourage anybody listening this to go buy my book positivity you can probably get it for $13 or $12 on Amazon and I think it will change your life.

Brad: Don’t tell Phil, but you can actually get it for free on Kindle unlimited on Amazon if you, if you check it out and it, it’s like under an hour read. It’s very

Phil: 70 minutes.

Brad: Straight to the point. Yep, I read it today actually. It’s a, it’s a good read, a lot of wisdom and Phil, I don’t know if

Phil: What was your favorite chapter today?

Brad: The one on anger or hatred.

Phil: Forgiveness.

Brad: Yeah, that was, that was,

Phil: That whas called hate her too.

Brad: Hate her too. Yeah, the one that, that was the one that struck, struck home to me the most. Your story about being taken advantage of and not going public and you know, following the line of all the good things that came from that, from you not going ballistic and going public with it all I thought that was very good.

Phil: Yeah. Someone’s, someone’s stole 28,000 from me, and, and I decided not to go public, could have ruined them, very famous player, could have ruined them, decided not to go public, decided to forgive them. Because I was so angry at that person. I just didn’t want to be angry anymore. And the way that happened on a Monday, in a way on Friday, I flew to, you know, to the east coast to Foxwoods, and saw that person, shook their hand. It didn’t feel great shaking is that person’s hand in the way had led to exactly a third place for 280,000, you can’t make that up. And if I had gone public, I would have just answered questions the whole time about this famous player and how they stole from me. And instead it was just completely buried sealed off. And I was able to focus on Poker. I won 280,000 which was like wow, exactly 10 times. I felt like I was being rewarded. And then that guy ended up paying me back the money anyway. And then they’re protecting me like he’s, he’s my biggest defender. I let them off the hook and so I think yeah, so the whole point is forgiving people not for them, they might be the worst person ever. You forgive people for you. So, the name of that chapter is called hate her too. It’s one of my favorite chapters too.

Brad: I believe it’s a, there’s a quote resentment is like taking poison at night and waiting for the other person to die, because you know from mindset wise if you, if you go public you’re ruminating on it, you’re thinking about it, it just goes on over and over you relive it over and over. And like you said you would you would not have done well in that tournament. I can say with, with confidence, mindset would not have been there. It just so yeah, that, that struck, struck home with me and makes me want to do, do a little better with forgiveness and letting things go.

Phil: Yeah, chapter teaches people to forgive everybody in their lives.

Brad: Phil I don’t know if I’m going to wear your Poker Bratz underwear, but it’s been, it’s been delightful. Awesome having you on the show. I really appreciate your time and energy. And come back on again. In a few years. We’ll catch up. See how you’ve been doing. How many more bracelets you have. Have a great, great night my man.

Phil: That was fun. I really enjoyed it. Yes, some good questions. I like the vibe. Good luck.

Thanks for reading this transcript of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 031: Phil Hellmuth

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