May 11, 2022

Phil Hellmuth sparks controversy in high-stakes poker game against YouTube streamers for potential corner shot

Late Sunday night and early Sunday morning, professional poker player Phil Hellmuth came under fire for his play and behavior in a high-stakes game broadcast on YouTube.

Hellmuth and fellow well-known pro Tom Dwan have joined seven online streamers for play with a minimum buy-in of $50,000 for blinds of $100-$200. Although there were many complaints about Hellmuth from the poker community, the biggest issue was a potential shot angle.

An “angle shoot” is a poker term used to describe an experienced player who takes advantage of an inexperienced player 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 gamer. Slime Machine moved all-in with As-6 on an As-8-2 flop for over $35,000. Hellmuth, holding As-9, was visibly and audibly confused. In the flow, he pushes his cards forward and signals for someone to flip their hand. Slime took that as a crease and flipped his hand.

As Slime revealed his hand indicating he believed he had won the hand, other players at the table can be heard saying “no” that Hellmuth did not fold. The end result was that Hellmuth returned his bet to Slime, minus $5,000.

Here is the video of the hand in question:

While showing cards is not uncommon in cash game formats, it’s hard to expect a casual player to understand this. Hellmuth defended himself on Twitter in a series of tweet, explaining that Dwan asked him to turn over his cards to see his hand and as a result, Hellmuth was swiping his cards for him in a way that looked like a crease from the camera’s angle. It didn’t help viewers watching that advertisers immediately called it a trick.

In a table full of pros, who knows? Maybe it’s fair to take the whole pile. In a table full of amateurs, maybe it’s fair to return the entire bet. Hellmuth called the $5,000 “penalty” a “really good deal” for Slime.

After hearing Hellmuth’s explanation, some retracted their previous statements regarding the alleged angle shot. But Slime probably says it best in a way that describes the atmosphere of the game.

had fun hands had some punts i hope that was fun to watch too idk i think

1. the non-verbal flip on the line looked like a crease 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 was not well received in this setting. In a game with professional video gamers, chess players, and podcast hosts, Hellmuth was himself. His words showed that he was treating it like a normal, serious game. His actions were not.

Hellmuth found himself short-stacked for most of the evening, buying for the $50,000 low while the casuals around him were for over $300,000. He conveyed advantageous scenarios, such as straddling the big blind. He berated the players, as he usually does.

Male, @phil_hellmuth

As a poker fan, I was so excited to see you helping grow the game to a new audience.

Instead, I saw an adult baby blaming everyone but himself for getting run over by streamers having fun.

Alex smoked you at poker AND she smoked you at chess. pic.twitter.com/B7IbtRjCyn

— Jack “Courage” Dunlop (@CouRageJD) May 2, 2022

In what was billed as “the biggest event in live poker history” by Hustler Casino Live, the conversation wasn’t about poker or the personality collection. It’s about Hellmuth, 16-time World Series of Poker champion, and his dull night.

The entire game, which has been viewed over 400,000 times in the first 12 hours of broadcast, can be seen here.

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