The U.S. Poker Open was announced on Tuesday, and we caught up with Phil Hellmuth to get his take on this new series, how it will take “Phil Hellmuth poker” to be successful in 2018 and how he’ll make sure to be at full strength when cards hit the felt on February 1st.
The U.S. Poker Open comprises of eight high stakes tournaments ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, including No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha and a Mixed Game Championship. The action will be streamed live and exclusively on PokerGO.
“I’m very excited for this, and I think it’s great for poker!” Hellmuth started, fresh off a series of hectic months that included the World Series of Poker Europe, the release of his book ‘Poker Brat,’ playing in the Poker Masters and a long list of appearances and charity events.
The intensity of 2017, which also included a highly regarded appearance on Tim Ferriss’ acclaimed podcast, was something that wore down the 14-time WSOP bracelet winner, as he explained.
“I thought I would be at full strength for the Poker Masters, but I pushed myself almost to the limit, too much traveling and working too hard. I did crazy shit. When you get a little bit older, it’s all about being well rested. I hope that I can be rested for the US Poker Open. I’m going to make sure that I don’t do too much leading up to that week of events.”
“For me, it’s all about showing off my game at full strength. The problem is, you’re not always at full strength. For me, it’s a great opportunity, and I just have to make sure that I’m fully rested. During the Poker Masters I was exhausted, and then the knock on me is, “Oh, Phil got bluffed!” or whatever, and I don’t mind people attacking me, but it’s much better when you’re at full strength when you can really show that you’re great. At half strength that’s a little bit harder.”
Strengths and Weaknesses
The U.S. Poker Open brings new flavors to the high stakes tournament scene, adding the biggest buy-in Pot Limit Omaha and Mixed Game events to the schedule outside the World Series of Poker.
Hellmuth hopes for this series, along with the Super High Roller Bowl and Poker Masters, to be staples on the calendar for many years to come and for himself to be part of poker history in these tournaments.
“I hope that this series is around for many years. Cary Katz has been amazing for the game by bringing new events to the table, and it would be fantastic to win this event, because in the end we, poker players, are judged by victories, especially in the biggest events.”
“If you have them [victories in big events] you can be great, if you don’t, you can’t be. Nobody can be considered great without wins in big events, and there are only very few exceptions who have been winning at cash games year after year. If you want to be great in poker, you have to be able to win the biggest events,” Hellmuth said about his drive and eagerness to show off his full arsenal of moves during the U.S. Poker Open.
The 1989 WSOP Main Event winner added that he’s still “A WSOP guy at heart,” but that with the continued longevity of other major tours he’s becoming more focused on performing outside the Rio.
“I’ve seen so many events come and go during my career, and I hope for the U.S. Poker Open to build that longevity and importance on the poker calendar.”
In 2017, Hellmuth cashed for over seven-figures in live tournaments for the third straight year and the ninth time in his career since winning the Main Event. Looking ahead at 2018, Hellmuth goes back to basics with his thought process and tactical approach.
“Everyone’s given strengths and weaknesses in life, and I’ve been given these great reading abilities, the understanding of how to play poker and longevity in the game. My biggest weakness is fatigue now. I seem to be fatigued a lot, and that’s when I’m not playing “Phil Hellmuth Poker.” This is not where I want to be, that’s at the top of my list for 2018.”