Phil Hellmuth's quest for his 15th World Series of Poker gold bracelet in the $111,111 High Roller for ONE DROP once again ended short of the ultimate goal with a sixth-place finish.
Hellmuth entered the second and final day seventh in chips after a successful Day 1 saw him run his starting stack of 300,000 up to 1.395 million. After he withstood the pressure-filled play of the bubble, Hellmuth busted John Racener in 10th place to land the final nine players at the unofficial final table. It was at this point that Hellmuth had worked his way into the chip lead with 7.9 million in chips — about half a million more than Bill Klein's 7.42 million in second place.
From there, it all quickly went downhill.
After Andrew Lichtenberger busted in ninth place for $390,875, the official final table began. But, after having such high hopes given his position at the table and visible focus on the task at hand, the 14-time gold bracelet winner lasted only 34 hands after that.
The first dent in Hellmuth's stack came on Hand #15, when 2010 WSOP Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel doubled through him. After Duhamel had opened to 325,000 from under the gun with the blinds at 80,000/160,000/20,000, Hellmuth stared his opponent down from the next seat, then made it 800,000 to go. Play folded back to Duhamel, and he moved all in for 2.56 million. Hellmuth tank-called, but he was in bad shape with the against Duhamel's dominating .
The flop, turn, and river ran out , and Duhamel successfully doubled through to knock Hellmuth under 5.5 million in chips.
Then, on Hand #24 with the blinds up to 100,000/200,000/30,000, Hellmuth played a pivotal hand against Bill Klein, and it did not go his way.
Klein had opened to 500,000 on the button, and Hellmuth opted to defend his big blind with a call to see the flop. Hellmuth led for 350,000, Klein called, and the turn was the . Hellmuth fired again, making it 475,000, and Klein called to see the complete the board on the river. Hellmuth led for 600,000, but this time he was met with a raise to 2.6 million from Klein. Hellmuth mulled it over for quite some time, then called, and saw the bad news when Klein tabled the for quads. It was later revealed on the event's live stream that Hellmuth had the for a full house.
On the very next hand, things got even worse.
Hellmuth was down around 3.1 million in chips after his loss to Klein, and he proceeded to get involved in a hand against Duhamel. Duhamel had limped the button, Hellmuth completed from the small blind, and Daniel Colman checked his option in the big blind. After the flop rolled out , action checked to Duhamel, and he bet 375,000. Hellmuth called, and Colman folded.
The turn was the . Hellmuth checked, Duhamel checked behind, and the river was the . Hellmuth led with a bet of 250,000, but Duhamel had other plans and raised to 1.2 million — a very similar situation to the one on the hand prior against Klein. Again, Hellmuth went into the tank. He eventually called with the , but Duhamel had rivered a straight with the .
With that, Hellmuth was down under seven big blinds and continued to dwindle from there.
On what would be his final hand of the tournament, Hellmuth raised to 500,000 from the hijack seat and left himself with just a few chips behind. Dan Perper, who was in the small blind, reraised all in when action folded to him. Klein folded his big blind, and Hellmuth stuck in his last little bit to make the call and put his tournament life on the line.
Hellmuth tabled the and was up against the for Perper. The flop didn't do too much for Hellmuth, but the on the turn added a flush draw for him. The river was the , though, and Hellmuth was out in sixth place for $696,821.
For Hellmuth, the nearly $700,000 he picked up was the fifth largest score of his career — the four events with a bigger payday were all WSOP events. He also earned more than most of his gold bracelet wins with this finish. Only two of his gold bracelet victories — the 1989 WSOP Main Event ($755,000) and the 2012 WSOP Europe Main Event (€1.022 million) — scored higher.
Overall, he moved up to $19.285 million in career live tournaments earnings. For those measuring, Hellmuth still remains in seventh place on poker's all-time money list. He also remains in fourth place on the WSOP all-time money list, but did move up to 113 all-time WSOP cashes with this result and increased his lead over Erik Seidel in that category.