It was the summer of 1989 when everyone’s favourite, 2-time defending champion Johnny Chan sat opposite to a 24-year-old hoping to make a history that day or at least that’s what the world thought! Fast forward to 21 years later, who knew that the young boy would turn out to be the owner of 15 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets?!
It takes tremendous skill to accumulate $23+ million in live earnings and now he is widely known as the ‘Poker Brat’, a prominent figure in the poker fraternity. Phil Hellmuth is currently running to grab his 16th bracelet in the 2020 WSOP Online Series. On the other hand, Johnny Chan was the first player to grab 10 WSOP bracelets. Truly one of the greatest champions, having won the 1987 and 1988 Main Event, which we know is quite rare!
Long before Hellmuth attached WSOP records to his name, he was just a kid. “I showed up in Las Vegas and played a Stud 8 or Better tournament and finished fifth. I had a lot of chips in the Main Event and tried to bluff this guy named Johnny Chan.” Chan was unstoppable which is why the name ‘Orient Express’, the reigning two-time champion. Following the footsteps of heroes like Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar, Chan’s aim was to set a new watermark and take down the Main Event, creating a hattrick.
A stunning day with 178 entries, a record at the time with $700,000 as the top prize. A golden opportunity for Hellmuth to win a life-changing amount but the difficulty was the five remaining players who stood on his way – Steve Lott, Noel Furlong, Lyle Berman, Don Zewin and Chan. The Chinese American eliminated Furlong in 6th place with pocket Queens against pocket Fours. His next victim was Berman. Hellmuth sent away Zewin and the knockout followed heads-up play between the reigning champion and Hellmuth.
Prior to the heads-up, Hellmuth told ESPN, “No strategy really. I just want to play my best poker and win the match. I’m treating him as I’d treat anybody else heads-up. A little more respect for him than perhaps anybody else I’d play. But I’m basically treating it the same way.” Chan said, “He’s pretty aggressive. Let’s see how he plays first and I’ll pick it up from there.”
Hellmuth shoved all-in with pocket nines and Chan called with A7. The board opened K 10 K Q 6 and that’s how Hellmuth became the latest champion that year taking down the most prestigious 1989 WSOP Main Event! “I was surprised that he rolled over ace-seven of spades, because I thought that he’d have something a little bigger than that,” the champion said after the tournament.
“That put me on the map. It put me on the cover of magazines and going into the 1989 WSOP Championship; I had momentum. I kept telling people that I’d win the Main Event in 1989 and I did it.” And that’s what the champions do! Keep reading GutshotMagazine.com for more updates on online poker tournaments in the country.