Phil Hellmuth’s legend status in poker cannot be disputed. Say what you will about the Hall of Famer’s patented ‘White Magic’ playing style, but the man gets results and has been doing so for 34 years.
He’s got more than $25 million in career cashes, according to HendonMob, placing him 21st on the all-time money list, and since winning the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event back in 1989 he’s gone on to win a total of 15 WSOP bracelets.
That’s a lot of WSOP bracelets. The most ever, in fact. And he’s found a way to win in every era of poker.
Last week, Hellmuth was the guest on content superstar and BBZ student Adam22’s incredibly popular podcast No Jumper, introducing the Poker Brat to a whole new audience.
It was an interesting discussion, touching on poker study, bankroll management, downswings, and predictions for poker in the future, to name a few.
Here are four interesting takeaways we took from it.
You can watch the video of the full interview at the bottom of this article.
How does Phil Hellmuth study poker?
“Do I have supreme confidence? No,” Hellmuth tells Adam22. “You’d be surprised, my ego isn’t as big as people think.”
Like all of us, even the great Phil Hellmuth has to study poker in order to improve. But don’t expect him to run a sim anytime soon.
“When you talk about solvers and GTO, there is a huge percentage of people doing that right now. So for me, it’s more interesting to figure out if they’re going to do this, how can I do that,” he says.
“In regards to studying poker, I do talk to Mike “The Mouth” Matusow and Brandon Cantu. Some other players chuckle at that, but I think what they’re missing is two brilliant poker minds who really have a lot to contribute in advanced discussions about how to play no limit hold’em.
“I think I understand more about different strategies than most people because I’ve been questioning how to play no limit hold’em perfectly since 1984. Now, just because you’ve studied something for a long time doesn’t mean you’re good, but obviously, I’ve won in all eras. You have to be able to adjust.”
Phil Hellmuth’s bankroll management
“I felt like I didn’t really have to worry about money ever again and it takes a long time to get to that point,” Hellmuth says.
“But be careful. When I say I don’t have to worry about money anymore, that implies I could get reckless. I can’t get reckless. I don’t want to get reckless. I’ve been very conservative. But I’ve been very blessed financially.”
At this point in Hellmuth’s career, he’s afforded the luxury of doing what he wants…within reason.
“When I was stuck at home, I was playing a lot of poker because that’s what I enjoyed. The last three or four months I’ve enjoyed doing business stuff a lot more.”
Phil Hellmuth on losing
Hellmuth isn’t one to admit a downswing, telling Adam22 he has never had a losing month in cash games. But he’s keen to point out how he handles losing in the moment.
“The losing is ten times worse than the winning,” Hellmuth says. “I hate losing more than anyone else on the planet. Those losses make me question my ego, they make me question who I am, they make me question everything. And there’s nothing healthier than questioning your whole life. Some guys will lose for three months before they decide to make a change, whereas I’m already ahead of the curve there. But I have a lot more emotional angst as a bad byproduct!”
Adam22 is used to seeing players take bad beats in their stride and brush them off as if they’re nothing. He studies with Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond, after all.
Check out our interview with No Jumper’s Adam “Adam22” Grandmaison here.
“A lot of the people that I look up to in poker, like Jordan at BBZPoker, I’ve watched him lose a flip super deep in a $10K and he’s really steeled himself to this, it doesn’t affect him and he knows it doesn’t matter that much,” says Adam22. “I would love to get there as a poker player, to be able to feel nothing when you lose.”
According to Hellmuth, that ability is going to make your life a whole lot easier.
“I had to learn in the early 90s not to bring back negativity to my wife and my children,” he says. “I didn’t master it, but if I had a really bad day, I would bring back 10% of it rather than 100% of it like I might have in the past.
“Now you’re talking about Jordan who loses a massive pot and doesn’t blink, that’s a great skill to have. But there’s part of me that doesn’t want that because in feeling the pain of one or two losses, you can make changes day-to-day.”
Phil Hellmuth on a Poker Superboom
“Do you think poker needed to go through this lull in order to reach a brighter future?” Adam22 asks Hellmuth.
“I’ve always said there’s a boom and a super boom,” Hellmuth replies. “We had a big boom, but I feel like the super boom is coming as soon as online poker is legalized back in the US.”
Hellmuth believes the grey area of online poker’s legality in the US prevented many casual players from getting involved. But once it’s fully legal, we’re in for a super boom.
“It’s going to keep being pushed forward and keep going,” he says. “How about when the states share liquidity and you’re going to have $200 buy-in tournaments with 100,000 people playing like the old days? You’re going to have people who aren’t great poker players having million-dollar scores. In the next five years, we might have a tournament that has a million players in it.
“It’s unheard of. It’s sick!”