EPT10 London: No cymbals nor smoke, but white magic spirits Phil Hellmuth to EPT London
Given our location in the heart of London's centre of freemasonry, the rumoured entry to the tournament today of Phil Hellmuth could have taken just about any form. This is the man who has shown up to the World Series dressed as a Roman senator and a military general, and has come flanked by a bevy of beauties, in a tank or in a sports car, which he has wrapped around a lamppost in the parking lot.
At the WPT event in Venice this year, Hellmuth bobbed along in a gondola dressed in black cape and feathered headdress, as if to the masquerade ball in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. One could only shudder at his potential interpretation of what constitutes the Supreme Being, and at where any offended parties might want to lodge a square and compass as a result.
As it turned out, Hellmuth's arrival to EPT London today was more appropriate than any one of us could have predicted. The man carrying the ticket of alternate number 100 simply seemed to appear in his seat at table 18. "He used white magic," offered one reporter by way of explanation for how a 6'4" rampant self-publicist materialised in the tournament field without so much as a crash of cymbals or puff of smoke.
But Hellmuth is here, he's playing and he seems to be intent on lasting out the day at least. And he'll need to keep the theatrics to a minimum and focus on his poker if he's to make the kind of ripples over here as he manages so readily in the USA.
His table could not be tougher: he's playing into Marvin Rettenmaier, Salman Behbehani, Grant Levy, Prattyush Buddiga and Luca Pagano. And although John Carew, who is also on that table, doesn't necessarily have the poker chops (yet) to challenge Hellmuth, he is one of few people in the room who has dealt with egos and bank balances that dwarf even that of the poker brat. Carew is an ex-professional football star.
But, yes, Hellmuth is playing, nursing a depleted stack of about 20,000, and suffering an early hit when getting about 6,000 in the middle with A♦6♣ on a flop of 7♥5♦4♠, but missing his draw and paying off Behbehani's pocket queens. "I was loving that flop," Hellmuth said, adding, "I like putting people in spots where they can't call me."
Rettenmaier changed up another of Hellmuth's blue 5,000 chips, and the Poker Brat took off his black leather jacket and dark sunglasses. He has another pair of specs, brown-rimmed reading style, which are also propped on the elbow rest.
Hellmuth opened to 1,500 from mid-position, and Behbehani (again) called from his left. They checked the [10h]5♠8♥ flop, then Hellmuth bet 3,000 on the turn of [10d]. Behbehani mucked and Hellmuth turned over A♣A♦, just for good measure.
White magic, they said. We will see.