The legendary Phil Hellmuth simply cannot be stopped at the World Series of Poker.
The man who holds the record for the most career WSOP gold bracelets added to that record on Monday by winning the $10,000 Razz Championship, his 14th career title at the annual poker festival.
Hellmuth may not be known as a Razz specialist, but the win isn’t nearly as shocking as it might have been if it had happened a few years earlier.
Back when he “only” had 11 career bracelets, they had all come for winning Hold’em events, and many doubted if he could win titles in the smaller, tougher fields that are common in tournaments for other games.
But that changed in 2012, when Hellmuth won the WSOP’s $2,500 Razz tournament. Since then, he’s had a lot of success in the game, finishing second last year in the $1,500 Razz event before his win this year.
“I think I figured something out about Razz in maybe 2012,” Hellmuth said to WSOP.com. “All of a sudden the game just clicked.”
Razz is an offbeat game that has a cult following. The game follows rules are similar to Seven Card Stud, with one simple change: it’s a lowball game, so the worst hand (with straights and flushes not counting) wins the pot.
Given that it isn’t something regularly played at casinos (let alone in home games), the Razz events at the WSOP tend to draw largely professional fields. This year’s championship was no exception, as the 103-player field was largely made up of top pros and Razz specialists.
That played out to a very strong final table, one that featured four bracelet winners. Brandon Shack-Harris went out in eighth place, while Mike Leah made it all the way to fourth before being sent to the rail.
The final two bracelet winners were Hellmuth and Mike Gorodinsky, who settled in for a heads-up battle that would ultimately last for three hours.
The chip lead went back and forth between the two players several times before Hellmuth finally took control, knocking Gorodinsky down to just 70,000 chips out of 3.1 million in play. Gorodinsky managed to double up twice in a row, but Hellmuth was able to eliminate him on his third try, securing bracelet number 14.
“Mike is just really tough and I need all of my concentration to give myself the best chance to beat him,” Hellmuth said. “He played phenomenal poker.”
Gorodinsky took home $167,517 for his runner-up finish.
For Hellmuth, the win solidifies his place among the greatest players in WSOP history, and will make it even harder for anyone to chase him from behind to take away his place as the leader in career WSOP bracelets. His closest competitors (Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Ivey) each have 10 lifetime bracelets.
But there was more than just glory in this win. After the tournament, Hellmuth told the crowd watching that this bracelet would be going to someone special in his life.
“I’m dedicating this,” Hellmuth said. “I lost a friend about a month ago, Dave Goldberg. I’m going to give this bracelet to his wife and kids. This is for Dave Goldberg. Goldy, I love you.”