Doyle Brunson: Phil Hellmuth is the GOAT of Hold'em Tournaments

Doyle Brunson Phil Hellmuth
Jon Sofen
Posted on: December 17, 2020 12:49 PST

Phil Hellmuth is the best no-limit hold'em tournament player in the world, at least if you agree with what Doyle Brunson has to say. And who is to say the opinion of one of poker's all-time legends isn't valid?

Brunson himself is one of the best to ever play NLH tournaments, so he knows what he's talking about. The Poker Hall of Famer has 10 WSOP bracelets, one of only four players to reach that mark. "Texas Dolly" stroked Hellmuth's ego on Twitter.

"I just saw Phil Helmuth has cashed 154times at the WSOP so he has probably entered 200 tournaments. He is the best NLH tournament player in the world, in my opinion," Doyle Brunson wrote.

Hellmuth was, of course, giddy at the praise coming from a fellow poker legend. "Highest possible praise considering it is coming from THE legend, the biggest legend in the poker world," the "Poker Brat" responded.

Hellmuth always enjoys receiving praise, whether it's from Doyle Brunson or some random poker player on Twitter. He's known to have quite the ego and many consider him arrogant. But if you back up the talk with dominant play, is it really arrogance?

The 2007 Poker Hall of Fame inductee has certainly backed his talk up. He has long claimed to be the best poker player in the world. That's up for debate, but his status as a no-limit hold'em tournament legend is tough to top, especially at the World Series of Poker, the most prestigious poker series in the world.

Hellmuth is the greatest performer in WSOP history, and it's not even close. He's the all-time bracelet record hold with 15, and also holds the record for most cashes in bracelet events (163). He even has the most runner-up finishes at the WSOP (11). On top of that, the Wisconsin native is the only player to have won both the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas (1989) and WSOP Europe Main Event (2012).

The "Poker Brat" has seven no-limit hold'em bracelets, and three runner-up finishes in NLH WSOP events.

Doyle Brunson has a point

The numbers don't lie, and it's difficult to argue against Doyle Brunson on this topic. Phil Hellmuth's success in NLH tournaments hasn't been limited to just the World Series of Poker.

And he's won big events in every form of no-limit hold'em (heads-up, freezeout, turbo, large field, small field, medium-sized field, etc.). His most recent bracelet in 2018, he won a $5,000 turbo NLH tournament, beating out a field of 452 runners for $485,082.

In 2005, he won the inaugural National Heads-Up Championship, an NLH tournament that was televised on NBC, for $500,000. He would return to the finale in the final year the show aired (2013), but lost to Mike Matusow for the title.

On the World Poker Tour, which only hosts NLH tournaments, Hellmuth is still in search of his first title. That day will eventually come, one would think. But he does have five final table appearances, and also just missed the final table three other times. So, even though he doesn't have a title, he's still had some success on the WPT.

Hellmuth's greatness isn't exclusive to no-limit hold'em, however. Of his 15 WSOP bracelets, six have come in non-NLH events. That includes three in limit hold'em, one in pot-limit Omaha, and two in Razz. He also has eight non-NLH runner-up finishes in bracelet events.

Doyle Brunson made a bold claim about Phil Hellmuth. The numbers back that claim up. The "Poker Brat," if he isn't the best no-limit hold'em player in the world, is certainly one of the best. It's tough to argue against that.

Featured image source: Flickr