Dan Colman and Phil Hellmuth: Kings of Controversy

TAGs: Dan Colman, Lee Davy, Phil Hellmuth, WPT Alpha8

Lee Davy airs his opinion on the recent 2+2 thread where Dan Colman called Phil Hellmuth “spineless,” “a charlatan”, and a “cancer to this world.”

Dan Colman and Phil Hellmuth: Kings of ControversyDaniel Colman or Phil Hellmuth Jr.?

Young bull versus the old bull, Internet wizardry versus white magic, silence versus noise?

Who represents poker better?

What does that statement even mean?

So many questions and although I don’t have the answer to any of them, I do have my opinion. And that’s what this nonsense is all about? When Daniel Colman calls Phil Hellmuth, ‘spineless’, ‘a charlatan’, and ‘a whore,’ should we be chastising him for his opinion or encouraging it?

I vote for the latter.

At the recent Alpha8 event in London, Colman’s table was involved in a deep debate about Hellmuth’s role in poker. I don’t remember the details but from what I could hear there was a fairly sensible debate going on about what he has done for the game and why he continues to behave the way that he does.

I didn’t hear words like “spineless” and “whore.”

We all wear many faces. We bring different personalities out of the closet and adopt them depending on our situation. This is how we survive, thrive and ensure that our line lives on.

When I watched Colman playing in the Alpha8—an event that he went on to win—he was one of the most vocal players at the table. I could tell instantly that here was a guy who had an opinion and he was eager to share it. I don’t think it was ego. I came away believing that he loved a debate.

Then when the game ends that personality is stowed away, and a new one emerges. I approach him and ask for an interview and he declines. He is no longer brash, confident, and wanting to share his opinion. He has changed because his situation has changed. He seems like a completely different person.

Phil Hellmuth has never turned me down for an interview and he has never dodged a question. I have never asked him anything about Ultimate Bet because I came into this industry late and I am more interested in trying to find out what a poker player’s true face looks like.

Here’s the thing about this back and fore debate between who is the biggest prick: Colman or Hellmuth? Nobody really knows apart from the people who are closest to them.

Family and integrity are very important values for Phil Hellmuth. He has played the Poker Brat personae for so long, he struggles separating the two identities. In one moment, he can be talking about the importance of being faithful to his wife and loving his children, then in the next he’s pounding a young fan into the ground by debasing him on national television.

This is one of the reasons that he talks about his family so much. He is trying to balance things out. He wants you to know who he really is. This is why I think he really would have liked to do the Celebrity Wife Swap television series.

Roberto Romanello recently told me that he likes to rip people apart at the table and hopes they still love him afterwards. This reminds me of Hellmuth. During my last conversation with him, he told me that he was fully aware of his overinflated ego and the damage that it can cause other people. He told me that he is constantly working with his wife to try and ‘fix’ this part of his personality, and he works on this everyday.

Do you think Hellmuth will read Colman’s comments and not do anything about it?

I don’t think so.

I think he will be pondering why the most successful tournament player of 2014 and someone that professional poker players are saying is the best in the world, has accused him of being ‘spineless’, ‘a charlatan,’ and ‘a whore.’

He will take it on board. He will talk to those closest to him about it. He will try to change.

After Colman fired off his volley, and the 2+2 community reacted, he came back to the thread and apologized multiple times for the strength and use of his particular vernacular.

Good for him.

Colman recognizing that he perhaps could have done things differently. I bet he thinks the same about the One Drop experience; and when Hellmuth shook his hand in the aftermath of his victory

Please don’t think that Hellmuth doesn’t experience the same things. When he diminishes a recreational poker player to emotional rubble, he later regrets it. He too feels the need to put those things right. That’s why he continually works with his wife on this change process.

Haven’t you noticed a difference?

Hasn’t he mellowed over the years?

When Prince Naseem Hamed was on a roll there was nobody better to watch. His ring entrances were completely over the top, he trash talked everyone, and then he got into the ring and beat everyone up.

Then you have Dan Bilzerian. One look at his Instagram feed tells you that he is a sexist, self absorbed, narcissistic pig.

But we love it.

There is something appealing to the naughtiness of it.

I love it when I see Hellmuth blowing up on TV and ripping into an opponent. I love it when I see an opponent ripping into Hellmuth; and I love it when I read Colman calling Hellmuth a whore.

This is the world we live in; a world where Kim Kardashian’s ass can gain more national media coverage than a global outbreak of Ebola.

Hellmuth is great for poker.

The professional poker players might not think so, but there are a lot more recreational players out there who would disagree. To them he is one of the only faces that they recognize within the game. TV producers know this, magazines know this, and Carl’s Jr. marketing department knows this.

Colman is also great for poker.

The recreational players don’t don’t know him but the professional poker players do. He is the epitome of skill. He is pushing the game to places it has never been before. He is the man we turn to when the gavel comes down at the end of the skill v luck debate. He also has a little bit of Hellmuth about him. He might not talk to the press but he will go onto 2+2 and rip ten tons of shit out of anyone.

These are two completely different people, from completely different times; earning millions of dollars playing a game of cards. We will never get to see their true faces. We will never understand why they do the things they do?  And who the hell cares? We just want to be entertained, angered, and tested. Hellmuth has done that for years, and Colman – whether he likes it or not – is also rising from the sanctity of his own grinding station to add his two pennies worth.

Keep it up lads.

Keep it up.


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