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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

New WSOP rule could hamper Hellmuth

11 May 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The World Series of Poker's first high-stakes event starts on May 28. Which means we're just 18 days away from Phil Hellmuth's first temper tantrum of the tournament.

A new discipline system, however, could render his next outburst his last.

World Series of Poker officials want to do a better job tabulating infractions by players and improve enforcement. Players could be assessed penalties ranging from warnings to one-hand or one-round suspensions.

Hellmuth, the 1989 World Series of Poker champion and owner of a record 11 individual title bracelets, is one of the game's most decorated players. He is also the main reason for the new disciplinary program.

Known as the "Poker Brat" for his boisterous antics and outbursts at the poker table, especially when ESPN's cameras are rolling, Hellmuth seriously crossed the line during last year's main event.

Bluffed out of a $400,000 pot by a relative unknown opponent, Hellmuth berated the player, calling him "an idiot" and the "worst player in history."

World Series of Poker officials handed Hellmuth a warning. The poker community grumbled that he was given special treatment.

"After the episode with Phil, we reviewed our system of warnings and penalties," World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said.

Tournament organizers plan to monitor players' conduct more closely during events so punishments for violations such as taunting at the table will be effectively enforced.

"We saw a couple of things we weren't too pleased with or proud of," Pollack said. "Some changes needed to be made."

Tournament officials will keep a written log of warnings and penalties to determine appropriate punishments when rules are violated.

"Our intention is to make sure that the behavior of a few does not impact the experience of the many," Pollack said.


Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman Steve Wynn has a suggestion for President Barack Obama when he visits Las Vegas later this month: Address tourism.

"The people that voted in the Democratic Party, for the main part, work in the tourism and travel industry as cooks and waiters and housekeeping," Wynn said. "They are being hit very hard not only by this recession but by federal policy that has discouraged travel."

Wynn was critical of Obama's February comments about frivolous travel by corporations that accepted federal bailout money.


Isle of Capri President Virginia McDowell is Casino Journal magazine's 2009 Gaming Executive of the Year. She is in pretty good company.

Past recipients include Wynn, Boyd Gaming Corp. founder Bill Boyd and Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman.

New WSOP rule could hamper Hellmuth is republished from