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September 1, 2014

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WORLD SERIES OF POKER:

Hellmuth’s book documents trials, tribulations of being a pro

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Special to the Sun / Phil's House Publishing

Poker professional Phil Hellmuth Jr. poses with his winnings after capturing the Main Event at the 1989 World Series of Poker. At 24 years old, he was the youngest to win the Main Event until 22-year-old Peter Eastgate was victorious in 2008.

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"Deal Me In," a book where 20 poker stars share their stories about how they turned professional, was recently released by Phil's House Publishing. The company is owned by Phil Hellmuth Jr.

Beyond the Sun

In 1988, before he was considered one of the greatest poker players in history, Phil Hellmuth Jr. sat down at a desk with his journal and wrote six goals he hoped to accomplish in his lifetime.

Wednesday morning, sitting the VIP lounge at the Rio one day before the opening of the 40th Annual World Series of Poker, he checked back on those six items.

“’Win the big one at the WSOP,’ — let’s see, I wrote this list in ‘88 and in ‘89 I won it,” he said. “’Meet and marry a wonderful woman, write a New York Times bestselling book, buy a beautiful house, buy a nice car, win lots of big poker tournaments' - I've done all that too."

“So wow, I’ve achieved some stuff. This is alright.”

That story, along with hundreds of others, all unfold in a new book titled “Deal Me In,” a compilation of personal stories and memories of 20 of today’s best poker players.

It is the first book released by Hellmuth’s publishing company, Phil’s House Publishing, which he founded in 2007. The book is available on his Web site, pokerbrat.com and is priced at $24.95.

The company planned on releasing a Suduko strategy book for its first release. But when that deal fell through, “Deal Me In” was put together in time for this year’s event.

“It was almost like doing 20 books instead of one,” said Phil’s House Publishing President Shannon Reiter. “It was difficult to do it in a short timeline, particularly with poker players.”

Poker notables who tell their stories include Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson and last year’s main event winner, Peter Eastgate.

Considering the different backgrounds each player came from, Hellmuth said the final result is an inspiring compilation of journeys through the poker world.

“The chapters are so wildly diverse,” Hellmuth said. “There’s the Ivey story, where he describes so much discipline and control. You don’t expect that of the Ivey today, because he seems to have a more reckless image. There’s Doyle Bronson talking about people getting shot in the head right in front of him. He’s sitting there playing and some guy comes in and blows another guy’s head off. Layne Flack’s story made me cry.

“What Shannon and [COO] Bob Soderstorm have been saying is that we’ve really contributed something beautiful to poker history here. We’ve written an amazing book and it’s inspirational, all the ups and downs.”

The book will be available only on pokerbrat.com until perhaps sometime later this year if Hellmuth allows it to be sold at retail locations. In addition to owning the most World Series bracelets of all time, Hellmuth is known for his interests in other business endeavors including writing a poker strategy book, starting a clothing line and filming a documentary.

The learning curve of his business projects is somewhat comparable to another story he shares in the book of a nine-month stretch where he flew to Las Vegas nine separate times and lost a total of $20,000 trying to break his way in with the professionals.

Although he admits learning the rules of the publishing world doesn’t quite match up to the stress of that period in his life.

“When you come to Vegas nine times in a row and lose all your money, that was much more intense,” he said. “Each trip is three days to a week and all you’re thinking about is poker, poker, poker. When it comes to the publishing world you just have to keep searching for answers. The most important thing to me is putting out a perfect product.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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