- REUTERS - Phil Hellmuth, the famed professional Ultimate Bet Poker clothing model and event coordinator, has a few words of advice for golf pro Jack Nicklaus. Moisturize.
"It puts the lotion on itself or it gets the hose again!" Hellmuth (who is pictured to the right and is clearly not crazy) shouts down to the golf hall-of-famer, cowering in Hellmuth's self-dug basement pit. "It puts the lotion on and puts the lotion in the basket!"
For some, this would be an unusual way to make a living. But for Hellmuth, it's just another day in the office. Hellmuth, who, in addition to his career modeling clothes for the Ultimate Bet site, also plays poker and models bracelets, has become known for making a big entrance at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), a tournament series that serves as the jewel in the crown of that sometime sport, sometime game of chance. Now, he's frustrated. "PUT THE [expletive deleted] LOTION IN THE [expletive deleted] BASKET RIGHT NOW!" he shouts, before coming upstairs and putting on some underpants with a wry chuckle. "That Jack," he says. "If he doesn't get with the program we'll never be ready in June."
"I always excel at everything I do," Hellmuth tells this reporter later, over a breakfast of orange juice and eggs following his morning meditations. "That's why I'm the world champion and so many others are not. I go big or I don't go at all. I've come to the WSOP late every year, and as General Patton, and with eleven of the most classy escorts in Vegas, and as Julius Caesar himself. But you know, these things don't just come together. You have to plan all year when you're the biggest star in poker, just to top yourself!"
The world of poker stardom is, in fact, getting crowded; indeed, Hellmuth has to worry about more than simply losing his reputation as the most famous star in poker. If he doesn't struggle to stay ahead, he may not even be the most famous Phil. Phil Ivey, another poker player and Full Tilt clothing model, has stolen Hellmuth's thunder this year with a deep run in the WSOP's main event.
"Ivey's the one who made me starting thinking about digging the pit," says Hellmuth with an easygoing, seven-minute long laugh, which veers into a sobbing jag briefly before easing back into another three minutes of chuckles. "I mean, it's outrageous! I play perfect poker, but these donkeys just keep coming at me. Next thing you know, Ivey's sitting at the final table, and they're all talking about him! They all call him the 'Tiger Woods of poker.' That's when I knew I needed to do something next year that reminds everybody that I am the greatest no limit hold'em player in the history of the game."
Hellmuth becomes philosophical as he strokes his toy poodle, Princess. "Tiger has won fourteen majors. Well, you know how many Jack has won? Eighteen! When I show up at the main event in my suit and mask made of Jack Nicklaus skin, everybody will stop talking about the Tiger Woods of poker! Here comes the golden bear, baby! If Ivey's the Tiger, I am the Jack of poker!"
Sadly, not everything is ease and light for Hellmuth, who is fighting off rumors that the famed golf pro has become less enthusiastic about the project in recent weeks, refusing critical moisturizing in the early stage prior to harvest. When asked about this, Hellmuth becomes pensive. "Well, Jack's Jack, you know?" he says after a while. "Jack's Jack. He's a champion. He's a fighter. And because he's so competitive, you know, he hates to lose anything, whether it's a skins game or his actual skin. And you know, sometimes we have our differences of agreement, like two champions inevitably will. But at the end of the day, it'll put the [expletive deleted] lotion on itself or it will get the [obscene gerund deleted] hose again."
Nicklaus declined to be interviewed for this story.