When I watch Phil Hellmuth in interviews, he seems like a decent guy and I start to like him. When I watch Phil Hellmuth at the poker tables, I can’t stand him. Why is there such a large gap between Phil Hellmuth, the person, and Phil Hellmuth, the poker player?
I was watching ESPN 2008 WSOP coverage last night and it exemplified the two sides of Hellmuth. On one hand, they’re interviewing him and he sounds like a decent guy talking poker among his interests. On the other, he’s in a hand and trying to belittle someone every time he gets beaten.
Watch this classic video of Christian Dragomir vs. Hellmuth to see some of the worst of PH:
In this video, Hellmuth complains and complains but really he has no one but himself to blame. Dragomir probably picked up on what he was holding since he basically said I have AK. Later he tried to talk his hand up to kings, but in the beginning he first said I hope you don’t have Aces and then he said I think you have AQ. Yet, he blamed Dragomir for making a call with a bad hand. Like Dragomir said, it’s his money so let him play. Agreed.
Chino Rheem also had a good add-on that a suck-out (which it wasn’t really) was part of poker. Phil Hellmuth said that this wasn’t poker to him, it was his life.
The truth is Hellmuth gets out of control at the table and literally acts like a child. I don’t even know if he would contest this. Last year, Hellmuth acknowledged he needed to clean up his act.
During interviews away from the felt, he’s usually a sensible and cordial person. It may be too late for him to change his act, but I think it would be more becoming on him to avoid deflecting blame on everyone but himself. I think his poker ego is so big, he won’t admit to any mistakes and sometimes he ends up getting so irate at losing that he takes out frustration with himself on opponents.
I’ll give him this: He is very entertaining to watch. I think if he could dial down the derogatory comments about other people and minimize the outbursts to a lower tone, he would present a better image.