It doesn’t seem to add up, but there’s apparently no denying that Phil Hellmuth is talking with Full Tilt Poker.
What they’re talking about is, of course, another matter entirely.
There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding where Hellmuth would land after both he and Annie Duke announced their departures from long-term online home UB Poker (formerly Ultimate Bet).
Don’t feel too bad for UB; they somehow managed to snag Prahlad Friedman, arguably one of the top free agents available and a uniquely excellent signing given his connection to the cheating scandal that’s dogged the room (Friedman was one of the primary victims of the UB superuser scheme).
Anyhow, back where Hellmuth will end up. We said then, and still believe now, that the best bet is some sort of affiliation between Hellmuth and WSOP.com. However, it appears that Hellmuth is considering other options, at least according to his Twitter:
NOW meeting w Full Tilt Poker!! At “SW Steakhouse” bar at Wynn…Made my biggest bet of last 2 years on LSU (-2)!!!!!!!!
Hellmuth also seemed to favor PokerStars or Full Tilt (or Bodog? Dark horse for sure) as a possible home in a recent interview with CardPlayer, where he downplayed the notion that he would have to be top dog at his eventual home. Excerpt:
JR: How important is it for you to be the primary face of an online poker site?
PH: That’s not important. It’s nice, and it’s kind of fun, but it’s not a requirement. Certainly I’ll be talking to a lot sites, whether it’s PokerStars, Full Tilt, Bodog, whatever, and there’s going to be a deal out there that makes the most sense to me. I’m not just speaking financially, because it’s really important that I also have a good fit with the brand as well. As I continue my discussions with the various sites, I think it will be really interesting to see where I fit in.
How would Phil fit in with Full Tilt? We just can’t imagine he’d be interested in being the “other” Phil at Full Tilt (shoot, he might even be the third Phil to hardcore “Little Green Book” fans), and it seems odd that he’d shift from one room operating in a legal gray area to another just as regulation seems to be gaining momentum in the US.
That said, a check’s a check – and Caesar’s might not be willing to cut Phil the kind of check he’s looking for without a real-money poker room in the US to benefit from the exposure. Phil might also figure that keeping his name front-and-center is a task that’s better suited to the marketing teams at Full Tilt and PokerStars than the less-seasoned crew at Caesar’s Interactive – at least for now. Put plainly, Hellmuth might be planning a short-term stop at FTP or Stars simply as a way to maintain his media standing and hedge his bets while the regulatory picture in the US shakes out.
Or he could just be tossing things like that out on Twitter just so we’ll write articles like this.