The World Series of Poker’s (WSOP) first three weeks have been nothing short of extraordinary as 22,374 players descended on Las Vegas in week one for the $565 Colossus, the largest field in the history of the game, and now Phil Hellmuth, one of poker’s all-time greats, upped the ante on his record-setting total bracelets.
Equivalent to a gold medal at the Olympics, the WSOP bracelet is the most coveted prize in poker, and while many pros are never fortunate enough to claim even one, Hellmuth landed his 14th this week after claiming the Razz Championship.
A variation of seven-card stud where the lowest five-card hand wins, Hellmuth outlasted 102 other entrants in the $10,000 buy-in event.
In the movie industry, the Golden Raspberry Awards, also known as the Razzies, is an annual ceremony to recognize the worst Hollywood had to offer in the last year.
Similarly, the Razz Championship is all about making the lowest or worst poker hand.
The 5-4-3-2-A, or five-high, is typically the worst, or more appropriately, best, hand in Razz poker. And when it comes to the format, Hellmuth is really good at being bad.
“I have a knack for that game,” the so-called “Poker Brat” said. “It just felt like I was very calm and I was seeing everything.”
For the win, Hellmuth scooped $271,105, bringing his total WSOP earnings to nearly $12.8 million, and $18.5 million in live cashes for his career.
He’s also now four clear of the next closest WSOP bracelet holders, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and the man expected to arrive at the Rio early next week, Phil Ivey.
But one might expect hell to freeze over before Ivey or anyone else bypasses Hellmuth’s WSOP bracelet record.
While Hellmuth and the other bracelet winners, the overwhelming majority of which are first time winners, are enjoying their time in Win City, others have voiced concerns.
That includes Daniel Negreanu, owner of six WSOP bracelets and the game’s all-time leading money winner, who has been the most outspoken critic of the new playing cards implemented for 2015.
Four days into the World Series of Poker, Negreanu posted on June 4th to his Twitter, “Modiano supplied the new cards for the WSOP and are the worst cards I’ve seen since the ones that had Jeffrey Pollack’s name on them!”
According to Negreanu and others who offered feedback, the primary issue is that the clubs and spades are too similar in shape, and that the spade, usually pointy, is too rounded making it difficult to distinguish.
That being said, Negreanu isn’t letting the issue affect his overall experience at the WSOP.
“I think I’m enjoying #WSOP2015 more than any other year. Everyday is a fun new adventure and playing different games keeps it interesting!” he tweeted just a week after expressing his frustration with the cards.
And like Negreanu, it seems the record-setting crowds and participants are also enjoying the World Series of Poker more than ever, a welcomed sign that signals the overall health of poker is strong.