Phil Hellmuth: Poker Mind In Depth Part XI

[Content Disclosure: Poker Mind In Depth series]

If you are following any WSOP twitters or reading other sites, you have probably seen some comments on the Las Vegas weather this summer. As recently as last year, we worked the Series in 'all 100 degrees all the time' summers. Last year Las Vegas had 108 consecutive days over the century mark, but this year we actually had a week early this month where the temperature never reached 90. Today, we have rain and hundred degree temperatures. Its very odd to stand uncover and feel hot winds gusting over 30 miles an hour, while inches away torrential rain is falling. You can feel the static in the air and you know tempers will be lightening short at the Rio today. We are creatures of our environment.

What, you ask, do wind, heat and rain in Las Vegas have to do with Phil Hellmuth and the World Series of Poker?

Well I am reminded whenever I write about Phil that most poker fans only know Phil through the image that television chooses to present. And, of course, Phil's own prolific writing. No this is not going to be another apology that begins: "but away from the table Phil is really a nice guy." Phil is Phil and you get to make your own assessment of who he is. Phil, Daniel and Mike are public figures, judgement from the public comes with the priviledge of fame. What I will say is that Phil Hellmuth is a lot more complicated than any televised portrayal I have seen. I think today's session clearly demonstrates that.

Remember, I caught up with Phil moments after bustout from a Stud tournament where he literally was stone cold card dead.

Shrink: "Want some time Phil?"

Phil: "No, let's go ahead and do the interview."

Shrink: "So its been another week of World Series play. We are hitting the doldrums, how are you feeling."

Phil: "I am feeling great.  I just play two days of the best Stud tournament of my life and just couldn’t hit a hand. Rollups got run down on the river, two pair got overpaired. That one hand I had rolled up sixes and got called by king, ten, three and lost to broadway."

Shrink: "I was watching, it seem pretty brutal both days of this tournament."

Phil: "It got so when I started with a big hand, I was just hoping to win half the pot and survive until I got a run of cards. I was thinking about surviving not winning."

Shrink: "That seems to be the script for your last couple of weeks at the Series."

Phil: "I agree but somehow this year it is different. I really am able to see what part is my play and what is just the cards. I can separate the two and that allows me to remain calm. That makes a tremendous difference in how I play. It really is going great now, everything but the cards. So my goal is to just keep the play going, I can’t change the flop but I can remain focused and playing good poker. The cards will come."

Shrink: "Well that has been a very consistent theme for you this summer. This really is a changed attitude."

Phil: "I think so, I do feel great and I have some real clarity on the parts of the game under my control and those that are just the rub of the deck. I feel much better about my game."

Shrink: "Taking the rest of the day off?"

Phil: "No, I was really short-stacked for this restart, so I signed up for the noon event, but I checked my table before I came here at 2 PM. When I checked my table it looked really tough, so I am going to take some time before I sit down in that tournament."

Phil did indeed take a break and calmly rejoined the noon tournament around 4 PM to continue his World Series.