On Monday at 2 p.m. local time, Phil Hellmuth will make a run at a record 14th gold bracelet.
Event #17 of the 2015 WSOP, the $10,000 Razz Championship, originally began with 103 players, which created a prize pool of $968,200. At the start of Day 2 on Sunday, 64 players returned looking to make the money at the top 16 and onward toward the final table. By the end of the night, just 12 remained with the UK's Adam Owen and his stack of 591,000 leading the way.
Not far behind sits Hellmuth, who bagged up 307,000 for the third-biggest stack in the room and notched his first cash of the summer.
"I felt like yesterday I hit my stride," Hellmuth said upon completion of Day 2. "Yesterday in the razz I felt like I was playing brilliant razz. I was so happy. I just wasn't hitting anything, you know, but I think because I played brilliant razz I made it to the end of the day. Because of that I came here today and I started to catch some cards."
"First step's first, I think we have 12 left," Hellmuth replied when asked how he liked his chances. "There are probably some short stacks, so I have to make the final eight and then see what happens from there."
Hellmuth is no stranger to razz. In fact, his first non-hold'em bracelet came in the variant back in 2012 when he took down Event #18: $2,500 Razz for $182,793, and then last year he finished runner-up to Ted Forrest in Event #7: $1,500 Razz despite holding a significant chip lead.
"Later, a lot of times I'll be upset at myself for making mistakes or whatever, doing things wrong," explained Hellmuth. "There wasn't much I did wrong against Ted. He hit the deck and he played really good. It was a very frustrating ending considering I had 1.3 million and he had 350,000 or something. Couldn't quite finish it. So you know battling for the razz is a fun history. I think he has two razz bracelets, so if I were to win this tomorrow, I would have two firsts and a second in the last three years in razz. I think that's a statement to how much skill there is in the game. People think it's all luck, I used to think it was all luck, but there's a lot of skill."
Despite his advocacy for skill in razz, Hellmuth was sure to talk about the bad luck he experience.
"It was very frustrating," he said. "I had in the first five cards, and I had the chip leader all in. Got him all in with , and there was another all-in in between us. I hit and he hit runner-runner to make a nine, and now he has 700K or whatever. I think last year in the $1,500 razz, from four tables in, I made a lot of those hands where I'd start with and they'd just be drawing dead. I'm supposed to win those pots."
The man Hellmuth was referring to was the UK's Adam Owen, who leads the final 12 players. Here's a look at the "Dirty Dozen":
End-of-Day 2 Chip Counts
"You never know what's going to happen," Hellmuth said optimistically. "Yesterday I felt wasn't the luckiest day for me, but I made it to the end of the day. Just fought hard to make the end of the day, and then today I don't feel like I can complain about my luck. I made a couple of really strong hands that just got beat on the river."
Hellmuth continued, "For me, all that history stuff is kind of cool, you know I love that stuff, but I can't think about that. I have one thought, 'Play great poker, play great poker, play great poker." It just has to run through your mind. 'Play great poker, play great poker,' and then in the end you look up and see what you did. If somehow putting bracelet number 14 on tomorrow, it'd be a really sweet moment, but first I have to make the final eight, and then I have to find a way to win."
Be sure to check back late Monday to see if Hellmuth can capture his record 14th bracelet.