Phil Hellmuth Draws Controversy in High-Stakes Poker Game vs. YouTube Streamers for Potential Angle Shoot
Photo by Christopher Victorio/WireImage for Kaaboo Del Mar via imageSPACE. Pictured: Phil Hellmuth
Late Sunday night and early Sunday morning, professional poker player Phil Hellmuth drew criticism for his play and behavior in a high-stakes game streamed on YouTube.
Hellmuth and fellow well-known pro, Tom Dwan, joined seven online streamers for a game with a $50,000 minimum buy-in for blinds of $100-$200. While there were multiple complaints about Hellmuth from the poker community, the biggest issue was over a potential angle shoot.
An “angle shoot” is a poker term used to describe an experienced player taking advantage of an inexperienced player by using unethical, deceptive or unfair methods.
In this case, Hellmuth was involved in a hand with ‘Slime Machine’, a podcast host and streamer who is not a professional player. Slime Machine moved all-in with Ace-6 on an Ace-8-2 flop for over $35,000. Hellmuth, holding Ace-9, was visibly and audibly confused. In the stream, he pushes his cards forward and signals for someone to flip his hand. Slime took that as a fold and turned over his hand.
As Slime revealed his hand signaling his belief he won the hand, other players at the table can be heard saying “no” that Hellmuth didn’t fold. The end result was Hellmuth giving Slime his bet back, minus $5,000.
Here’s video of the hand in question:
This definitely looked like a fold @phil_hellmuth 🤮
Would love to hear some other thoughts? @GmanPoker @RealKidPoker @DougPolkVids pic.twitter.com/xpQb5pibOW
— Josh Duce (@JoshDuce) May 2, 2022
While showing cards is not uncommon in cash-game formats, it’s hard to expect a casual player to understand that. Hellmuth defended himself on Twitter in a series of tweets, explaining Dwan asked him to flip his cards to see his hand and as a result, Hellmuth was sliding his cards to him in a way that looked like a fold from the camera angle. It didn’t help viewers watching that the announcers called it a fold immediately.
In a table full of pros, who knows? Maybe it’s right to take the whole stack. In a table full of amateurs, maybe it’s right to give the entire bet back. Hellmuth called the $5,000 ‘penalty’ a “really good deal” for Slime.
After hearing Hellmuth’s explanation, some took back their previous statements about the alleged angle shoot. But Slime probably says it best in a way that describes the atmosphere of the game.
had some fun hands had some punts hope it was fun to watch also idk i think
1. nonverbal flip over the line looked like a fold to me but
2. keating told him to flip his hand and it’s a friendly game idc smoke weed family
— journalist (@slime_machine) May 2, 2022
Known as the “Poker Brat”, Hellmuth’s behavior during games has become part of his brand. However, it wasn’t received well in this setting. In a game with professional video game players, chess players and podcast hosts, Hellmuth was his normal self. His words displayed that he was treating it as a normal, serious game. His actions didn’t.
Hellmuth left himself short-stacked most of the night, buying in for the minimum $50,000 while the casuals around him were in for upwards of $300K. He passed on advantageous scenarios, such as straddling the big blind. He berated players, as he usually does.
As a fan of poker, I was so excited to watch you help grow the game to a new audience.
Instead, I watched a grown man baby blame everyone but himself for getting rolled by streamers who were having fun.
Alex smoked you in poker AND she’d smoke you in chess. pic.twitter.com/B7IbtRjCyn
— Jack “CouRage” Dunlop (@CouRageJD) May 2, 2022
In what was billed as “the biggest event in poker livestream history” by Hustler Casino Live, the talk wasn’t about the poker or the collection of personalities. It’s about Hellmuth, the 16-time World Series of Poker champion, and his uninspiring night.
The entire game, which has been viewed over 400,000 times in the first 12 hours of being live, can be seen here.
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