Phil Hellmuth recently won his 15th career WSOP bracelet, giving him five more than the next closest player. While many in the poker world expressed congratulations, there are just as many who want to dismiss his accomplishments because he isn’t taking down High Roller events, World Poker Tour titles, or any other excuse they can come up with to belittle his achievements.
After I recently Tweeted that players have doubted Hellmuth for over decade, Washington State poker advocate Curtis Woodard asked the following question:
What an interesting question. Being a bit of a historical stats geek, I had to know the answer. I discovered that four players had won at least five or more bracelets since Hellmuth won his 10th back in 2010. In other words, there are a few select individuals who have managed to keep pace with the all-time leader. After listing these four players and their accolades, I’ll also take a look at some of the players with four bracelets who could feasibly start making a charge towards Hellmuth’s record in the future.
Since 2006, Jeff Lisandro has won six WSOP bracelets. His first came in 2007 when he won the $2k Stud event. In 2009, he completed the Stud Triple Crown, winning the $2,500 Razz and the $10k Stud 8 or Better events. Just for good measure, he also won the $1,500 Stud event that year.
In 2010, Lisandro won the £5,250 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the WSOP Europe and his last bracelet came at the 2014 WSOP Asia-Pacific in the A$1,650 PLO event. Lisandro nearly won #7 in 2018, finishing runner-up in the $1,500 Stud event to Steve Albini. It’s more of a matter of when, not if, he earns more bracelets.
— PokerNews (@PokerNews) October 8, 2014
Was there any doubt that Phil Ivey would be on this list? Ivey won his sixth and seventh bracelets in 2009, winning both the $2,500 NL 2-7 and $2,500 O8/Stud 8 events. In 2010, he won the $3k H.O.R.S.E. event. In 2013, he won the A$2,200 Mixed Event at the WSOP Asia-Pacific, and his 10th bracelet came in 2014 when he won the $1,500 Eight-Game event.
If not for having played a much lighter WSOP schedule in recent years, sometimes even opting to skip the series entirely, it’s possible Ivey would have at least 12 bracelets by now. He showed a bit of rust at times this year, but his runs in the $50k PPC and near-miss in the Big One for One Drop, and cashes in both the Colossus and Main Event show that he will continue chasing down Hellmuth in the future.
Phil Ivey out in 8th place after moving all-in with A-J as Justin Bonomo called with K-K. No help for Ivey as play continues on ESPN2 at 9:30pm PT.
— WSOP (@WSOP) July 17, 2018
Jason Mercier also has five bracelets since 2009. Most poker fans remember his run in 2016 that saw him win the $10k NL 2-7 and the $10k H.O.R.S.E events. He has bracelets in four different disciplines: PLO, 2-7 Lowball, NL Hold’em, and H.O.R.S.E.
While he has whiffed the last couple of WSOP’s bracelet-wise, it’s likely just a matter of time before he resumes his march towards 10. The only thing that may slow him is his family life, but one cannot fault him if he chooses to spend more time being a dad over chasing bracelets.
Jason Mercier wins a marathon match in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship. Bracelets this summer: 2 Total: 5 pic.twitter.com/4aLeZDsajz
— WSOP (@WSOP) June 18, 2016
The only other player with five or more bracelet wins since 2006 is Daniel Alaei. He won his first career bracelet the year that Phil won his tenth, taking down the $5k NL 2-7 Lowball w/ Rebuys event. Since then, all of his wins have come in $10k buy-in events. In 2009 and 2015, he won the $10k Omaha Hi-Lo Championship. Alaei also won the $10k PLO Championship in 2010 and 2013.
Daniel Alaei wins his fifth WSOP gold bracelet in the $10K O8 Championship. Now T-15th for most bracelets all time. http://t.co/06fcv8a3ZB
— WSOP (@WSOP) June 11, 2015
Back in 2013, Cardplayer Lifestyle founder Robbie Strazynski forgot to include Alaei in his list of the Top 10 Poker Players with Middle Eastern Roots. (Ed. note: Dude, it was five years ago and I’ve obviously since added him in with an 11th entry on the list; let it go!) Now it is hard to ignore Alaei as he’s inspired a generation of players, especially PLO players. Upon reading his exploits, aspiring poker players and Arab casino players in the Middle East can head to sites like viparabcasinos.com to hone their skills and try to duplicate his success.
What About Four-Time Bracelet Winners?
A list that’s a bit broader in scope than those who’ve won five bracelets in the last 10 years is that of players who have claimed four career bracelets in that time. There are presently 22 players with a total of four career bracelets, and half of those have won their bracelets since 2006. Among those who’ve won four bracelets since 2006 are Jeff Madsen, Joe Cada, Robert Mizrachi, Max Pescatori, and Tom Schneider.
Looking deeper, six players have won their four bracelets in this decade. Below are the players who’ve won four bracelets since 2010:
- George Danzer – 2014 (3), 2016
- Shaun Deeb – 2015, 2016, 2018 (2)
- Brian Hastings – 2012, 2015 (2), 2018
- Michael Mizrachi – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2018
- Dominik Nitsche – 2012, 2014 (2), 2017
- Brian Rast – 2011 (2), 2016, 2018
Shaun Deeb has run the hottest out of these six players, winning bracelets in three out of the last four years. Each player is presently on pace to win a bracelet every two years or better, and if they can keep up that pace, they could legitimately start to challenge Hellmuth’s record at some point in the future.
Of course, this all assumes that Phil will start slowing down. As per the Tweet I referenced at the start of this article, even a decade ago, players were surprised that he was “able to win” in large field NL events and they were trying to write him off as being out of touch with the rest of the poker world. We’re still seeing this today, and yet Phil keeps on winning.
I’m not saying that Phil Hellmuth is the best poker player in the world, but you simply cannot Phil’s remarkable consistency over his career. Regardless of the generation or the changes in poker theory, he has found a way to continue winning WSOP bracelets. As such, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that this trend will change anytime in the foreseeable future. Is his stated goal of 24 possible? Who knows, but don’t put it past Phil to find a way to do it.
Phil Hellmuth earns record 15th bracelet, posts record 134th WSOP cash, and earns $485,082 in winning Event #71 of the 2018 WSOP, $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em (30-Minute Levels). https://t.co/rZ0ojRcf6B pic.twitter.com/AbL1HrQ4rW
— WSOP (@WSOP) July 12, 2018