Coronavirus Sidelines ‘Poker Brat’ Phil Hellmuth

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Coronavirus Sidelines ‘Poker Brat’ Phil Hellmuth
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High-stakes poker player Phil Hellmuth is sidelined at this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas with COVID-19.

Hellmuth, the 1989 WSOP main event winner, announced on Twitter this week he could be out temporarily. 

The 57-year-old Wisconsin native said he thought he was immune from the coronavirus, noting that his sons and mother have not been infected. Hellmuth lives in California.


Hellmuth found “good news” in the prognosis, even though COVID-19 kept him out of a WSOP competition he felt he could have won this week.

“Good news: no cough,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Not hungry all day! Mind is a little foggy as I slept ’17 awful hours.’ I feel like my best chance for a bracelet was today’s @WSOP $10,000 Omaha 8/B, sigh.”

Known as the "Poker Brat” for his competitiveness and brash style, Hellmuth, a Poker Hall of Fame member and author, says on his website he is “universally regarded as the best poker player in the world.”

The coronavirus might have put some of his trademark mannerisms on hold, he implied in a tweet, saying he “won’t come in too cocky” now.

“Hard to be cocky when you’re sick for 2-3 weeks!” he tweeted.

WSOP Lands On Las Vegas Strip

For the first time ever, the World Series of Poker is being held on the Las Vegas Strip south of downtown.

Poker tables are set up for tournament action in ballrooms at the Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas hotel-casinos. An interior walkway connects these two center-Strip properties, which operate under the Caesars Entertainment umbrella. Caesars Entertainment has owned the WSOP since the early 2000s.

This year, the WSOP runs from May 31-July 20, with several prize-money events leading up the main hold’em competition beginning July 3.

Daniel Negreanu, a Canadian known as “Kid Poker,” told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the tournament’s first year on the Strip so far has been “pretty flawless.” 

“Everyone seems to love it,” the said.

Early Poker Legends

After launching in 1969 as the Texas Gamblers Convention in Reno, the tournament known as the World Series of Poker got its official start in 1970 at the Horseshoe Club in downtown Las Vegas’ Glitter Gulch. 

The WSOP’s early years brought attention to poker champions like Johnny Moss, "Amarillo Slim" Preston, Doyle Brunson and Stu “The Kid” Ungar. 

The 88-year-old Brunson, known as “Texas Dolly,” is the subject of Hollywood a biopic currently in its early stages.

In 2005, the WSOP moved to the off-Strip Rio hotel-casino, before transitioning this year to the east side of the Strip.

Also this year, the first-ever BetMGM Poker Championship is being held in Las Vegas. The BetMGM event is set for June 23-26 at Aria Resort & Casino on the west side of the Strip.

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