Paul Phillips
by Jason Kirk  

Paul Phillips

Paul Phillips has been playing in big poker tournaments since the late 1990s, after making a lot of money the height of the dot-com boom by selling stock he earned from his job as Chief Technical Officer for a company called Knowing exactly when to get out of a hand is a business skill that has translated well at the poker tables for Phillips: since 1999 he has won over $2.2 million in tournaments throughout the United States and Europe. Of those wins, 11 have been in tournaments featuring games other than no-limit hold'em. That an intellectual like Phillips would enjoy games as diverse as lowball draw, pot-limit Omaha, and seven card stud hi-lo is no real surprise. Neither is his outspokenness, given his background as a frequent contributor to the newsgroup on the internet.

The times before poker and TV got together were quite different from today, where nearly every professional has his own web presence and poker strategy posts abound on websites dedicated to the game. The newsgroup, or RGP as it is frequently abbreviated, was once the shining light of poker knowledge on the internet. Much like the atmosphere of website message boards can be, the tone of newsgroup discussions is often harsh - people who never have to face one another say things they might otherwise hold back, and "flame wars" frequently develop. Paul has been posting to RGP for some time, and has gained a reputation there as a respected poker mind. Along the way, he's also earned the enmity of others who don't appreciate his sometimes bristly style (or his complex opinion on Phil Hellmuth).

In recent years Paul has continued to post to RGP but has also maintained his personal LiveJournal. Reading Phillips' site is infinitely entertaining to anyone who isn't put off by his style. He chooses to write about topics all over the map; one day you might read a discussion of how much equity he held in a particular triple-draw lowball hand, and the very next post might focus on how to build your own DVR for recording television. He interacts frequently with commenters on his site, who range from star-struck television viewers to other serious players, and never holds anything back. His philosophy is that on his site, he can say whatever he wants - and there's rarely a spot where he doesn't want to say something of interest.

Anyone who reads Phillips' writing regularly won't be surprised when they see him in action. His deep thinking about the game and desire for intellectual stimulation have spurred him on to a great deal of success. He's cashed in 7 WSOP events since 1999 and made 3 WPT final tables the last three years. The most impressive of those WPT finishes was when he won the 2003 Bellagio Five-Diamond World Poker Classic, fending off a final table that included Chip Jett, Mel Judah, Gus Hansen, and Dewey Tomko. He finished 2nd on the money list in 2003 after going on the sort of tournament run that most players dream about, a feat even made even more impressive when placed against the backdrop of his "semi-retirement" the previous year. Because money isn't a motivator for a rich man, winning was all Paul wanted - and in 2002, making lots of final tables only to come up short time and again made him want to quit. His impressive run in late 2003 continued into the next year, when he made a run at WSOP Player of the Year honors.

When Paul Phillips isn't busy writing or playing in big buy-in tournaments, chances are he's finding some way or another to toy with Phil Hellmuth. When the two played at the National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2005 - a match that inspired a CardPlayer article from the former WSOP champ - Paul showed up wearing a Hellmuth hockey jersey with pocket nines (Hellmuth's winning WSOP hand from 1989) on the back. On his site he has written many times about his fascination with the unintentional comedy of poker's self-professed boy genius, and in fact has proclaimed himself Hellmuth's watchdog. Anyone who thinks this is out of malice would probably be surprised to learn that one of the players Phillips admires the most for his skill is none other than Phil Hellmuth.

There are few players as interesting on as many levels as Paul Phillips. His presence in the game today, and in the online poker community as well, is a welcome one.

Paul Phillips Official Site

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