Phil Galfond Praises Phil Hellmuth’s Game, Fedor Holz Disagrees

Phil Galfond lavished praise on Twitter toward Phil Hellmuth for having poker “abilities that others don’t.” But some of the top high rollers, notably Dan Smith and Fedor Holz, don’t share those sentiments.

Phil Galfond Phil Hellmuth

Phil Galfond seems to think Phil Hellmuth is an underrated poker legend. (Image: Upswing Poker)

Hellmuth’s game has long been disrespected by high rollers such as Holz, and even some lower-stakes grinders. They claim his non-GTO approach doesn’t win in today’s poker game. But he’s the all-time WSOP bracelet record holder with 15, and has even shown some success in heads-up matches, most recently winning twice against Antonio Esfandiari on PokerGo.

That doesn’t stop the haters from criticizing his game, however. Galfond, though, came to his defense on Twitter. The Pot-Limit Omaha legend watched those recent matches and came away quite impressed.

Galfond admitted he’s privately criticized Hellmuth’s play in the past. The Run it Once founder said of Hellmuth: “he does a lot of strange things that seem like they can’t be right.” Then, after watching the heads-up matches, he said “my perception of Phil Hellmuth’s game changed dramatically (for the better).”

While Galfond said he didn’t see any “HUNL technical mastery” in Hellmuth’s game, he was impressed with Hellmuth’s “uncanny ability to assess and adapt to every spot he found himself in.”

 Galfond Ripped for Praising ‘Poker Brat’

Not everyone loves Hellmuth. That’s especially true of many of today’s high rollers. So, when Galfond showered him with praise, he took some heat on poker Twitter. Olivier Busquet was quick to pile on, trashing Hellmuth’s character.

Busquet referred to Galfond’s comments as one of the “silliest things I’ve ever read from someone I respect.” He then called Hellmuth a “self-promoting ego maniac.” Dan Smith sided with Busquet, suggesting that the top high rollers in the game today would bet against Hellmuth having success in high-roller tournaments.

“On your side of the argument, people have some nice things to say. The people on the other side of the argument are willing to bet *really* big,” Smith wrote.

Fedor Holz was also highly critical of Hellmuth’s game, and the comments made by Galfond. He claims he’s seen Hellmuth punt in every $300,000 buy-in tournament he’s competed in. Holz said he believes Hellmuth is a “losing player in tougher lineups.”

“I don’t mean this in a mean way, that’s just my observation from playing against him and seeing him play. I think it’s important to be open to other approaches and solutions, I just don’t think his is particularly outstanding in the current game,” Holz argues.

Hellmuth fired back and expressed disappointment in Holz’s disrespect toward his game. He fired off a series of tweets in rebuttal.

Hellmuth has more than $21 million in live tournament winnings, won the 1989 WSOP Main Event, and holds the record for the number of WSOP bracelets won (15). No other player has more than 10 World Series of Poker bracelets.

Even so, it’s unlikely Hellmuth will ever earn the respect of many younger pros.

Written by
Jon Sofen
Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.

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