You know what they say, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but give him a fishing rod and he’ll eat until the global warming ultimately renders oceanic lifeforms extinct. Or something like that.
In poker terms, however, you only have to give Phil Hellmuth one chance at a bet – seemingly any bet – and he can’t resist jumping on the hook.
Today, Phil Hellmuth faced off against tennis pro Ellis Guernsey, and stared down the barrel of the young tennis ace’s fabled 127mph serve. If Hellmuth could win one point, then he would win $20,000. If not, he’d lose $4,000. Odds of 5/1? You were never going to keep Hellmuth out of that kind of action.
Hellmuth actually has form winning prop bets, unlike many poker players. To our minds, the winning ones we can recall stretch to Huck Seed perfecting a gymnastic backflip – his relative was a trained gymnast and brought him up to speed in 24 hours – and, well, Duke Madson’s suited walk to Vegas in his recent cinematic triumph.
Not only did Hellmuth have form, but he also had form in tennis prop bets, having won $23,000 in a previous bet as he told his social media following:
“I hit a 3-point shot, no warmup, in Pitts, in the dark/rain, at 2 AM for $15,000 to my $1,500. I hit a tennis ball back against a pro serving 80 MPH, scored a point (fluky), for $23,000. Now I’ll try to score a [point] on pro vs 127 MPH.”
This time round, few poker observers gave Hellmuth much chance at all. The Poker Brat was quick to refute their accusations that he might not even see the ball pass him.
To the action on court, courtesy of a sporadically live Mike Matusow stream on popular streaming service YouTube.
Ellis Guernsey was the young USA F3 Tennis Pro Hellmuth was up against, and from the off, Guernsey looked a little like he was trying to restrain his obvious confidence. In the manner of a beloved family pet being asked to perform his party trick for money, Guernsey looked determined to foul his master’s slippers. And foul them he most certainly did.
To say that Hellmuth got nowhere near Guernsey’s serve would be to suggest that both the server and returner existed within the same game, which is an insult to the talented professional in this field. Guernsey, frankly, was on another level to the extent that if anyone watching from the balcony above the court believed Hellmuth to have been operating from within another international time zone, so ponderous was he by comparison.
With Guernsey exhibiting the kind of quick hand-to-eye coordination that young men who only graduated three years ago are renowned for, Hellmuth threw himself into the action, lunging desperately from side to side in an attempt to lay his racquet on the ball. Alas, for the Poker Brat, many such attempts ended with him collapsing, prone, into the outer fence that saved the court from remaining as far away from the ball as the inglorious returner.
While Hellmuth didn’t quite end up as out of pocket as he might have done, this time round, he quite literally couldn’t lay a racquet on it. Given the entertainment he’s again put out there, he might not consider it too bad a deal on the day. The drama, as always, was ace.
You can watch exactly how the action unfolded right here: