The final table of the $25,000 Mixed Game Championship at the U.S. Poker Open is set, and none other than Phil Hellmuth is among the finalists. Albeit short, the 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner is filled with confidence. We spoke to him at after reaching the final six, which will be streamed live and exclusively on PokerGO at 4 pm ET on Wednesday.
|U.S Poker Open Event #4 $25,000 Mixed Game Championship Final Table Chip Counts|
|1||Isaac Haxton||United States||2,317,000|
|2||Chris Vitch||United States||1,399,000|
|3||Stephen Chidwick||United Kingdom||1,080,000|
|4||Dan Shak||United States||926,000|
|6||Phil Hellmuth||United States||372,000|
“I’m last in chips, I’ve got 372,000. I haven’t even looked at the prize structure, and don’t tell me, because I didn’t even know that seven got paid until we were down to eight and they said, ‘We’re on the money bubble,’ and I was like ‘Oh s***.’ I wasn’t paying attention to any of that,” Hellmuth said with a big smile when play concluded at 2:30 a.m.
“There’s such a thing as realistic, and then there’s such a thing as what I expect for the final table,” the number nine on poker’s all-time money list said.
“But let me tell you this, great things can happen quickly if you play the games great. If other people are making mistakes, you’re playing great, your hands hold up, or when you start catching some cards, great things can happen very quickly. I know that to be the case.”
Coming into the final table, with tough completion and a chip deficit to overcome, Hellmuth clearly isn’t bothered by any of it.
“I’m going in there free of expectations. Let me play my best poker and not pay attention to the money. Swings can happen both ways in these things. Daniel [Negreanu] and I were just talking about the number of times this summer at the Series, some guy went from two or three big blinds to the chip lead, it was crazy. I was on the other side of quite a few of those, where I had a lot of chips but couldn’t quite get it into the barn. So. You know. I’m calm. Super comfortable.”
Looking back to the earlier events, Hellmuth admitted to having been in desperate need of a break to recharge his batteries and get ready for the latter part of this series.
“I saw reports on the Internet like ‘Where is Phil?’” Hellmuth said before explaining himself.
“So, I didn’t play event two and three. I just needed a break, man. I’ve been playing tournaments when I’m exhausted and when I do that I don’t do well. I’m stressed out, I’m bothered and frustrated. I took three days off. I didn’t do anything in those three days and I barely even played in the first tournament. Even today I wasn’t going to play. I told myself ‘What the f*** did you come to town for? and ‘If you want to win the all-around trophy, you have to enter today and you have to play.’ Once my mind was made up to come and play, I hopped in.”
While the break gave him much needed energy to compete, he also admitted to feeling rusty and needing some time to get back into the swing of things.
“I was a little bit out of sorts at first and didn’t start out well. However, the minute I took my headphones off and started paying attention to what the players were doing in every hand, something seemed to change. This has been a nice event because I’ve not been all-in. It’s one of those ones where you make it and you’re never all in, and when you are never all in you can’t go broke. So that’s Phil Hellmuth poker at its best.”
Lastly, Hellmuth shared his love for mixed games and drew motivation and confidence from his long track record at the WSOP.
“The mixed games are just a fabulous format for me. I’ve done really well at the World Series of Poker. Daniel [Negreanu] has this $25,000 buy-in fantasy league that he’s done for seven years now, I’m number one overall in points. A few guys came close, but I still think I’m number one on that list. This means that I’m getting a lot of final tables in a lot of different games. I’m getting a little bit older, and I think I’m a little bit more comfortable these days. I didn’t mind playing till 2:00 in the morning and tomorrow I don’t mind playing as late as it takes to win this.”
This is what Hellmuth and his five remaining opponents are playing for tomorrow: