WSOP 2021: Phil Hellmuth does damage control on Twitter in wake of F-bomb tirade

Haley Hintze
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Posted on 10/13/2021

An increasingly contrite Phil Hellmuth spent much of Tuesday and early Wednesday conducting damage control following his extended F-bomb-laced outburst at the final table of the $10,000 Seven Card Championship on Monday. As we reported yesterday, Hellmuth’s tirade included heated language targeting the Rio, the host venue of the 2021 WSOP. Hellmuth’s tirade resulted in a flood of social-media criticism but no actual penalty at the series, owing to an unusual technical situation where his outburst went unnoticed by WSOP floor staff.

Today, a calmer Hellmuth attempted to walk back some of the reputational damage he may have self-inflicted. Some words sting more than others, as Hellmuth relayed to his Twitter followers. Hellmuth’s elderly parents were disappointed at his outburst, to say the least:

Tendler, a well-known poker “mind coach,” later added to his take on the situation. “It’s great you realize that and are willing to work on it,” he said. “The key in my mind isn’t that you just reign it in, but actually solve it. You’re playing for bracelets/history. We know how much you care and that’s why it’s so emotional for you.

“Your intensity is a big asset,” Tendler added. “You don’t want to lose that. But you will if you have to control your emotions to prevent a blowup. That’s not the end game. Ultimately, you want to solve the problem for good. Get at the root of why you’re blowing up and you get to maintain that high intensity without the risk of tilting….”

Wide-ranging responses to incident

While the majority of responses to the incident castigated the 57-year-old “Poker Brat” to some degree, the criticism wasn’t universal. Many of Phil’s fans and followers wrote it off as Phil being Phil, and perhaps no one commented more strongly in that regard than Hellmuth friend and fellow old-school player Mike “The Mouth” Matusow. Matusow served up this opinion via tweet:

Steve Frezer, a tournament director once involved in another Hellmuth blow-up situation, dismissed Matusow’s take as nonsense. “Call bullshit,” Frezer posted.

Still other posters took a more centered position. These poker fans congratulated Hellmuth for willing to take ownership for his many tirades, especially this one, but noted that in the past, Hellmuth has always regressed. But, might this be the moment that changes Hellmuth’s worst behavior at the tables?

Hellmuth himself seems to hope so. “My rant was out of line,” he posted on Tuesday. “I have been encouraged by many to be the ‘Poker Brat,’ but I went too far.”

Harman shares strange, old Hellmuth tale

As one would expect, an incident like this brought numerous tales involving Hellmuth out of poker history’s dustbin. Poker Hall of Famer Jennifer Harman shared an old Hellmuth gem about what happened after he busted from a tournament at Binion’s the WSOP’s original home:

Commenter Vinnie Ferrigno (@FerrignoLimit) probably won the thread, however, when he quipped, “No chips and a chair.”

After an off day on Tuesday, following Monday’s events, Hellmuth returned to action at the WSOP on Wednesday, late-registering Event #27, $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. Hellmuth arrived at the event with a videographer in tow.

Phil Hellmuth takes his seat at a table in Event #27, $1,500 H.O.R.S.E., on Wednesday afternoon. (Image: Haley Hintze)

Featured image source: Haley Hintze