Did Phil Hellmuth pay to be in WSOP?

In the “episode” broadcast last night, Hellmuth was going at it with another guy, who said that at least he had to pay his $10,000 while Hellmuth got in free. The announcers casually agreed.

Is that true? If so, why?

I assume he was staked or (much more likely) was given the buy-in as a result of one of his endorsement deals…Ultimate Bet, probably.

Pretty sure that a large number of pros wearing the logos of online sites had their buy-in paid for them in that fashion. No different than the site giving them an extra $10,000 and telling them they have to use it for the Main Event.

And, of course, tons of the amateurs wearing Full Tilt or Stars or whatever gear won their entry through smaller buy-in satellite tournaments online. And then there are all the live satellites.

All in all, I’d guess that the percentage of players in the Main Event who actually ponied up $10,000 of their own money to play is pretty darn small. Maybe 15 percent? Maybe lower?

My gut is that it is going to be higher than that these days. I know several people who saved up their 10 Gs and went off to try their luck against the big guys. Kind of like a Poker-Fantasy camp, where they went to prove themselves(midlife crisis-gotta take a risk to be a man etc. in actuality.)

There are so many satellites, though. Why wouldn’t the guy (or gal) just take those 10 Gs and play nine one-table sit & gos at the Rio to earn the slot? Anybody who’s willing to spend $10,000 on the Main Event must also have a decent enough amount of confidence in their own poker skills that they could figure to finish first out of ten people at least 11 percent of the time.

He was surely staked by UltimateBet.net as part of his endorsement deal. Part of the perks of being a popular poker pro.

I know a guy who has played in it a few times. Both times he started with $40 buy in satellites, and won his way up. He’s never made it past the first day in the tournament; but he says its a lot of fun.

To be fair, he probably spent several hundred dollars each time in an effort to win his way in. But, still… if you had the money… spending a few hundred on entrance to a 10k buy-in tourney… not so bad.

A few years ago Full Tilt Poker gave away 100 free seats. You had to work your way through a series of tournaments over the course of a month. Each ending with so many free seats. Done like 10 times, they ended with 100 free tickets to the Main Event. I made it to the final of one of them, but had an awful final tourney. Just couldn’t catch a card, and when I did somebody always seemed to have something better.

I don’t know if Full Tilt continues to do this or not.

I don’t know if they actually have that many seats available through freerolls anymore, but they award a large number of seats, significantly more than 100, to people who win their way up through a series of tournaments. Of course, those seats are paid for by all the other entries to the tournaments, not Full Tilt. It also has a large tournament at the beginning of June which guarantees that a certain number of Main Event packages will be awarded – those seats are theoretically free to the extent that the prize pool doesn’t cover their cost, but I’d be surprised if there was very much overlay (if any). The sites do a pretty good job of knowing how much the prize pool is likely to be for a tournament and then setting their money guarantee at around that number, or just below.

AS a past champ, does Hellmuth have to buy in at all?


Thanks for the replies all. That makes a lot of sense. I was afraid it was something like jk1245 said, that he got a free seat by virtue of who he was.