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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

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Life coach and poker author Phil Hellmuth aiming to 'change humanity'

14 Jul 2017

By Gary Trask
LAS VEGAS -- Love him or hate him, Phil Hellmuth never disappoints.

Whether it's sitting at the ESPN featured table under the hot lights or bumping into a reporter in the hallways of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and taking part in an impromptu interview, Hellmuth's bravado gauge is always on full.

You want salacious statements and audacious assertions? President Trump has got nothing on the Poker Brat.

Hellmuth busted in the World Series of Poker Main Event on Day 2C, but was back at the Rio on Thursday for a book signing. He says he is being told by friends that his new autobiography — titled, simply, Poker Brat: The Story of the World's Greatest Poker Player — is "way too personal" and that people "can't put it down."

But it's his next book, which he says will be called #POSITVITY and will be out by this time next year, is the one that will "change lives."

"I truly believe it will help tens of millions of people," he said matter-of-factly.

Really, Phil? Literally "tens of millions of people"?


"Yes, that's what I said," he shot back without hesitation. "That's what I think. Because I've discovered some stuff in my own way that can help out 95% of the people in the world."

Call me a cynic, but I still wasn't buying it. And there must have been a lack of doubt written across my face, because after a brief pause, Hellmuth went on a controlled, yet spirited, tirade as if I had just tried to steal his big blind. We've seen this act before and knew full well we were in for another entertaining rant.

"Listen, I wanted to write a New York Times best-seller. I did that with, Play Poker Like the Pros," said the Poker Hall of Famer and 1989 Main Event champ with a rise in his voice. "I wanted to become the greatest poker player of all time. I have all the records. I wanted to host TV shows. I've done that. I wanted to find the perfect woman. I've been married 27 years. Happily. And I've been loyal.

"All of these things I wanted to do in my life I've been able to do. So, I think my life has been a real fun and amazing ride. And there are certain things I do that no other help gurus have talked about that I can put out there to help humanity."

He wasn't done. Not by a long shot.

"I've known since 2001 that I motivate people," he continued. "People have come up to me with the most amazing stories. A guy once told me he was on his death bed. He imagined playing me heads up and then he emerged from the coma. And then he came and sat behind me at a World Series tournament and I won 13 hands in a row when I was heads up. My wife said it was the freakiest thing she has ever seen. The guy just had great energy. It was almost creepy."

I suddenly started to look around for a fact-checker. Can all of this be true? Does Phil really believe all of this? Does he think I just fell off a turnip truck on the Las Vegas Strip?

Phil Hellmuth happily poses for pictures with fans during his book signing at the World Series of Poker.

Phil Hellmuth happily poses for pictures with fans during his book signing at the World Series of Poker.

"People see me on television and they see me do the things they can't do," the all-time WSOP bracelet winner persisted. "They see me do things that no one else on the planet can do and they say that's what humanity can be like in poker. It's the same way you watched Michael Jordan do things. The same way we saw Tiger Woods hit the ball within four feet for 10 to 20 years. We look at it and say, 'How the heck does he do that? It's amazing.'"

He then took a minor step back and added some humility.

"I'm not saying I'm on the same level as Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, but I know for a fact that I do motivate a lot of people globally."

Unlike Poker Brat, which Hellmuth said is 145,000 words, the forthcoming #POSITIVITY is much more concise at around 15,000 words.

"I can write that much in 10 days, if I wanted to," he said. "I've written 500,000 words in columns, so I can write.

"I've already written about five or six thousand words of the book, so it's 40% done. Now, it's just a matter of finding a great cover and getting it ready to go."

When asked if he had a ghostwriter help him, Hellmuth grimaced.

"No! Zero ghostwriters for me. Zero," he said. "I had one (Adam Glazer) back in '03 for Play Poker Like the Pros, but, unfortunately, he got sick halfway through the process. But that was a blessing in disguise, because I realized I didn’t need any help. He wrote 10,000 words and I wrote 88,000. And it was a New York Times best-seller."

Before letting him go, we asked Hellmuth about the Main Event. The day before, we had watched him at the featured table, and he was talking the talk and walking the walk. He was having a ball, collecting chips and working the crowd.

A few hours later, after being moved to the Amazon Room, he busted.

What happened?

"I was having fun at the featured table; I like being at the featured table and I was playing great," he said. "Once I was off the featured table, I played like shit and busted myself.

"When I knew millions of people were watching, I knew it was a chance to shine. Generally, I shine under the spotlight. Unfortunately, the spotlight was taken from me and I blew away all of my chips."

And there it was. Fifteen minutes into our conversation and I was finally being told the undisputable truth. Phil Hellmuth shines bright under the spotlight like nobody else.

Even a skeptic-at-heart like yours truly can’t argue that.
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