Following his most extreme blowup ever on screen, is it time for the World Series to take action against the Poker Brat’s behaviour?

I love Phil Hellmuth. I love watching him play. I love his antics and his ‘blowups’.  I think they make poker more entertaining. There is a limit, however, and this week was one of the times he stepped over the line. 

This week live on PokerGO he had his worse meltdown ever. Swearing, berating his opponents, throwing his cards at the dealer and even saying he would burn down the casino. 

Phil claims he was joking and that the video above was edited in such a way to make it seem otherwise. The longer PokerGO highlight reel doesn’t make him look any better: 

Nobody thought he seriously was going to burn down the casino, that wasn’t the problem. The simple issue here is that if any other player behaved this way, they would have been disqualified, maybe banned forever. In fact, Sam Panzica was literally banned for life for making a similar comment railing the Main Event in 2017, his version of that story is below:

There is no doubt that this makes for compelling TV which is why he gets away with it. I’ve seen it in person and for the most part the card room stops to enjoy the spectacle too. Nobody particularly finds Phil threatening despite being a big dude, so most players just turn their chair to watch it. This is why over the years there has been a surprisingly low amount of people actually stand up to Phil, they’d rather enjoy the show. 

This is a WSOP issue more than a Hellmuth issue

hellmuth
Phil brings a lot of media attention to the WSOP

To be clear I enjoy these rants and I’d be more than happy for them to continue, as long as everyone else is allowed to also do them in a sort of WWE style verbal free-for-all, but we know that won’t happen. 

At this stage I don’t really blame Phil, just in the way I don’t blame a spoilt child for acting out when it is clearly the parents at fault. He is a grown man but when this behaviour has been encouraged (and all of us are a little guilty in this whenever we click on a Phil Hellmuth blowup video) and never reprimanded for the last 20 years it’s no surprise he gets brattier every year. The issue here is one the WSOP should be dealing with. The problem is not that he behaves this way, the problem is that if any of the rest of us did we would be banned for life. 

I don’t think Phil should be banned for life or for this WSOP, but some action should be taken. Maybe making him sit out a week of bracelet events or at least a warning that if he continues act like this he would face some sort of ban. Having said that, rather than taking action against Phil I’d prefer Sam Panzica and anyone else who have previously been banned for relatively benign, non cheating, reasons to be invited back if they agree to behave. 

I don’t mind if people like Phil get to enjoy a bit of favouritism. He attracts a lot of media attention for the WSOP after all. If he wants to do one of his silly entrances or pace up and down the card room swearing to himself, let him fill his boots. Maybe letting a few minor breaches of etiquette slide when most of the card room is enjoying him tilting is fine.

But when the behaviour becomes things we know would get a regular customer of the WSOP banned for life, a line has been crossed. 

Should the WSOP take action against The Poker Brat? Let us know in the comments:





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