Galfond shows Hellmuth the love as Busquet bites back


Galfond-shows-Hellmuth-the-love-as-Busquet-bites-backAn odd Twitter row broke out between some of poker’s great and good after Phil Galfond revised his opinion on fellow Phil of the Hellmuth variety from good to great.

It’s widely recognized by fans that Phil Hellmuth is a living poker legend. With 15 World Series of Poker bracelets, almost $24 million in the bank from live poker tournaments alone, ‘The Poker Brat’ is a self-styled pantomime villain but also a world champion par excellence.

Phil Galfond wanted to catch everyone up with his opinion on the great man, however and that included crediting him with some kudos after he won two High Stakes Duels against Antonio Esfandiari. 

Cue absolute mayhem, with the high roller set biting hard on the bait the second in landed in the water. Hellmuth’s credibility is being confused with the fields in which he plays or even the game he plays.

Hellmuth’s speciality – in case you didn’t know – is multi-table tournament poker with a lot of entrants, primarily playing no limit hold’em. They’re a different game to Super High Rollers, but they’re events where Hellmuth puts up 100% of his own buy-in, rather than selling action for one.

That didn’t stop some of the world’s best hounding Hellmuth for not being up to much in $300,000 buy-in events, despite Hellmuth having cashed in both a Super High Roller Bowl and One Drop event in recent years. Fedor Holz – something of an authority in GTO given he co-created the Pokercode website which promises to train the poker elite in this very area – was pretty dismissive of Hellmuth’s talents: 

“Totally fair. To be clear, my previous opinion was more or less exactly what you wrote here.” said Galfond in direct response. “What I saw [previously] wasn’t HUNL technical mastery,” wrote Galfond. “It was an uncanny ability to assess and adapt to every spot he found himself in. Specifically, in the second match, Phil’s reads on each and every hand were incredible, and he chose lines that, while often unorthodox, intelligently capitalized on his (dead-on) read of each situation.” 

Galfond even found it in himself to apologise to Hellmuth, not something necessary to a man who is actually pretty modest once you hack through the layers of pantomime villain antics and bluff that are a part of his poker persona. He was certainly that during both High Stakes Duel epsiodes, despite beating Esfandiari both time, crediting his oppoinent with being a great player.

Phil Hellmuth’s It’s exactly that – a persona. Yet Olivier Busquet wasn;t having any of it.

This prompted an angry response from Farah Galfond – Phil’s wife – which led to an even longer rant from Busquet.

Because Hellmuth doesn’t regularly beat super high roller level events, he shouldn’t be considered one of the best? This seem a ludicrous argument, and not one that is even borne out by comparison to Busquet as an example, who in the last three years has only cashed once in super high roller events, a 3rd-place finish in the $25,000-entry Seminole Hard Rock High Roller event with 115 entries his only creditable live score at anything like the nosebleeds he speaks of. 

Poker legend Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson also defended Phil Hellmuth, again referencing his 15 World Series of Poker bracelets. It’s amazing how many players question how easy these are to win, having won so many less than the man they call ‘The Poker Brat’. He’s not the one who comes off looking brattish in this ongoing social media discussion, which at times veered towards very polarized opinions on a character who warrants deeper discussion. Stay tuned to Calvin Ayre as we will be bringing you exactly that very soon in the coming weeks.