Hellmuth is a very big baby

This is really getting to be fun. Just got back from Maryland LIVE in Baltimore where we captured our best footage yet for Poker Night in America. A lot of credit goes to Phil Hellmuth. After spending several days with the “Pokerbrat” I can tell you this much about Phil: he’s a true professional with a boat-load of TV experience and has a great instinct for what will translate on TV.

The week started with our first ever “888 Home Game” in the hotel lobby. The idea was to get our cash game table together for a fun and casual home game. It was a chance for the players to get comfortable with one another (I opened a bar tab to help the cause). We weren’t playing for money. The stakes were this: Winner gets to set the seat assignments for the cash game (which turns out is a very big deal). To make it more interesting, the first one out of the home game had to agree to wear an embarrassing outfit of the winner’s choosing.

My original thought was that the winner could pick amongst any of the losers for the embarrassing costume. However, after picking up Hellmuth at the airport, and during the drive to Baltimore, Hellmuth showed me the error of my thinking.

“Todd, now you realize that no matter what happens, the winner will pick me” said Hellmuth.

When I told him I’d never considered that possibility he just laughed and said “really?”

He was right. Of course everyone would pick on him. So, we changed it up last minute and made it very simple and fair: first one out gets embarrassed.

So naturally Hellmuth goes out first anyway. He shoved with QQ into Donkey Bombers AK and lost the race. I thought he’d be pissed but he wasn’t. Jessica Dawley, an 888 sponsored pro from Florida proved to be the perfect victor of the first “888 Home Game.” She set about conferring with her boyfriend as well as fellow 888 pro Russell Thomas to choose seat assignments for the cash game.

The next day we had camera crews accompanying Jessica to go shopping for Phil’s costume. Originally she wanted to go to a certain outdoor supply and clothing store but their corporate red tape and Public Relations paranoia machine wouldn’t allow our cameras in the store. I won’t tell you the name of the store but it sounds something like “Pass Pro Chops.”

Jessica’s plan B was to go to Party City (no problem there). Apparently Party City empowers their General Managers to make battlefield decisions like allowing a camera crew from a nationally televised TV show to film in their stores and get free publicity. Bravo Party City! Good for you and bad for “Pass Pro Chops!”

Jessica returned to the casino with a plastic bag containing an extra tall baby boy outfit complete with bib, bonnet, bottle and rattle. I took one look at it and just thought “no bleeping way he’s going to put that on!”

Finally we get the cards in the air and Hellmuth makes quads in a very early pot against Shaun Deeb. It was a perfect spot for Hellmuth to “slow roll” the infamous Shaun Deeb but he didn’t. Oh well.

About an hour into the game Jessica brings out the baby outfit and gives it to Hellmuth. I was pretty tense because I just didn’t know how this was going to go over. It’s one thing to put on a goofy hat or a wig but this was a full-blown baby costume. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Hellmuth grabbed the bag and went into the Green Room at Maryland Live to change. Five minutes later he came out smiling and sucking on the giant baby bottle and rattling the giant baby rattle. If you haven’t seen the pictures yet go to our Facebook page. Classic.

It wasn’t long before the Twitter world blew up about Hellmuth and the baby outfit. Even Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson weighed in on the latest escapade from the Poker Brat. I have to say that Hellmuth could not have been a better sport about the whole thing. He hammed it up and sat at the cash game table for 2 hours in that ridiculous outfit. There’s been some talk in social media that it was rigged and a “publicity stunt.” It wasn’t. 100% guaranteed it played out just like I’ve described it.

After two great days of cash games we took our show to Washington D.C. and shot interviews and footage with Hellmuth and Robert Williamson III. As expected both of these guys did a great job as we used two separate film crews. We got some cool interviews with Congressman Joe Barton and PPA Director John Pappas. Later we crashed a home game attended by the PPA and some staffers and lobbyists. Needless to say it was a big thrill when our two pros joined the 25/50 (CENT!) cash game.

Fun times!

I want to thank our hosts at Maryland LIVE (Mike, Carmen, Rob, Ryan, Mario, & more), our sponsor 888 Poker (Chris, Jessica, Russell), and our great cast of players including:

Tom Schneider (who apparently never loses)

Greg Mueller (who apparently never wins but always has fun)

Matt Glantz (who also never loses)

Robert Williamson III (who turns out to be one of the most eccentric people I’ve every met as you’ll see on the show)

Layne Flack (who’s in top form these days)

Shaun Deeb (a true poker savant)

Dumpster Joe (nice three high bluff!)

Greg Merson (The Champ)


In two weeks we are going to be back at Turning Stone casino in upstate New York for more poker and shenanigans off the felt. We have another amazing lineup for this event including:

Liv Bouree

Phil Laak

Jennifer Tilley

Richard Roeper

Antonio Esfandiari

Layne Flack

Shaun Deeb

Cherish Andrews

Erick Lindgren

Jesse Sylvia

Jake Balsiger

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