The Day 1B chip leader, Fernando Cimaglia, eliminated Phil Hellmuth just one hour into the maestro’s first Italian poker performance here in the heart of Venezia.
When Phil Hellmuth enters a poker room the place freezes in time. The man has that sort of stature and presence. His World Series of Poker (WSOP) entrances, when he was playing under the arm of UltimateBet, annoyed and fascinated both fans and players alike, but we haven’t seen him replicate it since Doyle Brunson went to airwaves to criticize them publicly. But as the WPT Venice Grand Prix wandered tamely into it’s sixth level of play during Day 1B, Hellmuth made his grandest of entrances to date.
Hellmuth floated through the mist of the Grand Canal on a Gondola. He stood tall and proud with a black cape flowing in the wind, a silver cane in hand and a Venetian style face mask hiding the most famous face in poker. He strode majestically up the steps of the oldest casino in the world, flanked each side by the decadent and dreamy Royal Flush Girls. The paparazzi’s were flashing their cameras like the sparkle twinkling in Hellmuth’s eye. The action stopped as Hellmuth took his seat, surrounded by cameras, iPhones, iPads and anything else people could get their hands on to photograph the great man. A masked woman appeared at his table and offered him a flute of champagne and the bubbles flew down his neck. Then he removed his regalia and replaced it with his trademark Aria baseball cap. It was time to get down to business.
After the fuss died down, Hellmuth plugged in his earphones and got to work. We aren’t sure what Hellmuth has on his playlist, but we are pretty sure ‘Fernando’ by ABBA has just been delegated to the trash. It was just one hour after Hellmuth stole the show, that Fernando Cimaglia stole all of the Poker Brat’s chips. Well in truth, Hellmuth actually gave them away.
It was a board of [8s] [6h] [2h] [7s] when Cimaglia put Hellmuth all in holding [Js] [8h]. It was a bluff, but a bluff that Hellmuth ended up calling with a worse hand – [8c] [5c].
“I didn’t think you had much but…” Said Hellmuth.
In truth, Hellmuth didn’t care. The Hellmuth we have grown to cheer and jeer with equal ferocity doesn’t put his chips into the pot in situations like that. He folds when it matters. Today didn’t matter.
So with Hellmuth gone so went that little bit of the fizz; that little bit of sparkle. Fernando Cimaglia continued his progress by ending the day with the chip lead, but we can’t help but want Phil Hellmuth back. It’s a little bit like watching Dallas without J.R Ewing.
I mean what’s the point?