An accountant for a trucking company in Missouri, Dennis Phillips had been playing poker for years before he made it big at the World Series of Poker*, but never on anything more than a casual basis. His ascent from everyday man on the street to poker hero goes to show that if you have the skills, anyone can make it to the top of the game, and the riches that come along with getting there.
A regular face at card rooms across Missouri, Dennis had picked up a number of small but consistent tournament cash finishes by 2006. In 2007 he began to appear on the radar of the wider poker community when he had a good run at a World Series of Poker* Circuit event in Tunica, Mississippi. Dennis made two final tables, both in $500 No Limit Hold’em side events, cashing for a combined total of $4,578. The money was hardly life-changing, but the experience of playing live poker in large mutli-table tournaments would prove to be invaluable a year later.
The 2008 WSOP* Main Event was probably the most hyped up yet. With play being stopped for a break of 117 days when only nine players remained, anticipation was reaching fever pitch by the time the action started up again in November. Dennis went in as chip leader and fan-favorite - an enviable position to have when playing for first place prize money of more than $9,000,000. His final table experience ended up being a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, double ups and crushing beats. The end result was a 3rd place finish and a massive payday of $4,517,773 - not a bad return on the $200 satellite at his local casino that he won his Main Event seat in. Against the odds of another huge field, Dennis came close to making the final table of the Main Event again in 2009, finishing in 45th place for $178,857. He then made a deep run at the 2010 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, eventually busting in 4th for $125,000.
Away from poker Dennis is a huge fan of sports, especially his home town baseball team the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, anyone who watched him playing at the Main Event on TV would have noticed him wearing a red Cardinals hat - signed by all the famous poker players he'd met on his way to the final table. It was a fashion statement that proved popular with the crowd that gathered at the Rio to watch, many of them paying tribute to Dennis by dressing the same.
The road from casual poker player to Main Event star that Dennis has taken draws similarities to that of 2003 World Champion and Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker. Both players came seemingly out of nowhere, both were accountants and both went on to make huge Main Event cashes. If Dennis can go on to make the same kind of impact that Moneymaker has, you'll be seeing his name pop-up at the world's biggest poker tournaments for years to come. He also proved to be a great ambassador for poker when he donated a portion of his Main Event winnings to charity, which PokerStars then matched.
Profile courtesy of PokerStars.