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Is Hellmuth the Greatest NL Hold’em Tournament Player Ever?

He is known for his temperamental “poker brat” personality and extravagant, self-promoting entrances to casinos. But no one can deny it – Phil Hellmuth has won more World Series of Poker bracelets than anyone else. Now the media is calling him the greatest No Limit Hold’em tournament player ever.

On October 4, 2012 Hellmuth won his 13th World Series of Poker bracelet when he defeated Sergii Baranov in heads-up play, outlasting a starting field of 420 players in the €10,450 World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) Main Event. Hellmuth captured the first place prize of €1,022,376, bringing his lifetime tournament earnings to $17,493,271 and ranking him 3rd in all-time winnings behind Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Ivey and just ahead of Sam Trickett.

Not only does this win extend Hellmuth’s lead as the player with the most WSOP titles, but it also made him the only player to ever win both the WSOP Main Event and the WSOPE Europe Main Event. It is the perfect cap to Hellmuth’s WSOPE stint as he managed to score an impressive four cashes during the seven-event series. The win also puts Hellmuth in the lead for the WSOP Player of the Year race.

Phil first came on the poker scene in 1989, when at age 24 he defeated defending champion Johnny Chan to win the World Series of Poker Main Event and its first prize of $755,000. His record as youngest Main Event winner would last until Peter Eastgate took the title in 2008.

Except for the earlier win this year, all of his other bracelets have been in Hold’em events. Hellmuth came close to winning his 12th bracelet in 2011 when he finished second in three separate events, including the $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship.

Following his win in Cannes, Hellmuth told the media: “This was the best poker I’ve ever played in my life, I know that for certain. I played as good as I can possibly play, caught a few breaks and here I am. I’m very thankful.”

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