The two most famous of the poker-playing Phils, Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth, busted out of the 2018 WSOP Main Event by Day 4 of the tournament. Both managed to do so in somewhat ignominious ways.
Phil Hellmuth entered the WSOP Main Event as a god, left as a railbird
Hellmuth, the Poker Brat, came to the WSOP event dressed as Marvel superhero/Norse god Thor. He was flanked by several models dressed as Wonder Woman.
Poker’s resident bad boy and malcontent has a reputation for grand entrances. Those entrances are usually a few hours after the tournament has begun.
If Hellmuth could pair his flamboyance with good cheer at the table, then most people would likely find the entrances amusing and fun. Instead, the all-time bracelet winner came off as grating and arrogant.
He did himself no favors in actual tournament play. He attracted controversy at one point because he insisted on berating another player about the strength of his hand with another player yet to act.
This dust-up provoked angry responses from several top players, including Justin Bonomo and Erik Seidel. Hellmuth, for his part, apologized for his actions and pledged to foot the berated player’s buy-in for next year.
But, it should never have happened. So, fittingly, when his Main Event ended on a nasty three-outer on the river, many in the poker world celebrated his demise.
It’s all so unnecessary. But, it’s also what we’ve come to expect.
The only man who could beat Phil Ivey was Phil Ivey
If everyone cheered Hellmuth’s Day 3 exit, everyone groaned at Phil Ivey’s Day 4 downfall. Ivey’s abrupt exit from the tournament shocked the poker world, who was excited that poker’s Tiger Woods had returned to form.
At one point, Ivey’s chip stack rested above 1 million in tournament chips. However, he managed to ship his entire stack in a terrible spot.
He got tangled up with Brian Altman on the last hand before the dinner break. He raised to 22,000 with pocket nines and faced a reraise from Altman’s QJ.
The board ran out QJ283, but with the J28 as spades. Ivey had the nine of spades.
So, he found a spot to check-raise all-in on the river, representing the flush. However, after some tanking, Altman called with his two pair, and ran the 10-time bracelet winner to the rail. Rough.
A sad story about two millionaires
Hellmuth and Ivey are two of the most successful poker players of all time. Both men are worthy members of the Poker Hall of Fame.
In Hellmuth’s case, he has climbed to the top of the WSOP mountain before. Ivey has come close.
However, people root for these men to succeed because it reinforces the skillful nature of the game. So… we do want them to win sometimes. Even Hellmuth.