Poker in Print: Poker Brat (2017)


Some poker books are obvious from the moment they are published. ‘Why did it take them so long?’ you might ask. Poker Brat: The Phil Hellmuth Story is one such poker book, and the most shocking element of the book is that it took until 2017 to be brought to the public by D & B Publishing.

poker-in-print-poker-brat-2017Making a book about the Poker Brat, a.k.a. 15-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth comes across as a labour of love and Hellmuth, while never shy to speak about the ‘Positivity’ that he brings to the game (indeed, his latest book is titled Positivity), is very open about what has brought him so far in the game.

This book, however, doesn’t start and end with Hellmuth at the poker felt. His upbringing in the American Midwest is already something he’s spoken about in a few interviews, including one this reporter conducted with him around the time of this book’s publication.

“I can dodge bullets, baby!”

Phil Hellmuth’s phenomenal mathematical nous when he was a young man was the platform for his tremendous success, and in a way, the story is one of inspiration rather than aspiration. While Hellmuth now has the kind of life many might aspire to, i.e. wish for without necessarily wanting to do what he did to get there, the sheer perspiration of his youth should act as a guide to many about how to crack their way into any industry.

Phil Hellmuth developed an alter-ego, a ‘Poker Brat’ which has proved enormously popular at the tables, specifically the World Series, and particularly on television. All that is brought to life in this book, which reveals some of Hellmuth’s secrets.

Plenty of what Hellmuth talks about feels a little like therapy, which Hellmuth has seemed to conduct in public at many times during his poker career. It might not be how everyone deals with their insecurities or frailties, but the very way in which the Poker Brat looks below the surface shows incredible mental strength. Here is a man who’s prepared to lay it all out there, bare as it can be, and learn from it. That is perhaps the best lesson in life as well as poker to take from the book.

At a considerable 352 pages, Poker Brat is a lot longer than the follow-up, Positivity, and although Phil himself might not feel it, comes across as a great deal more positive than the title might suggest. While the evidence of the brattishness that has accompanied his career is described ad nauseum in the book, how Hellmuth honed this facet of his personality which has, after all, made him a lot of money over the years, is very revealing.

“If it weren’t for luck, I’d win them all.”

It might be that no-one will ever overtake Phil Hellmuth’s record of 15 bracelets at the World Series of Poker. It might also be that Hellmuth will never again enjoy that gold-accompanied winning feeling. But, since he admitted to me a few years ago that he set his sights on 20 and is still five away from that lofty ambition being fulfilled, I’d bet on Hellmuth conquering the poker world all over again. It would make a great story.

You can buy Poker Brat: The Phil Hellmuth Story via D&B Publishing, with Amazon selling the book right here.