Phil Hellmuth has recently been playing his best poker. Two weeks ago, the 56-year old won $400,000 by beating Antonio Esfandiari in High Stakes Duel, a one-on-one matchup that aired on the PokerGO subscription service. And while he continues to compete, he also looks to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. PopCulture.com recently caught up with Hellmuth and talked about playing while the coronavirus remains a threat.
"I like the vibe. I like the atmosphere. Hellmuth said when talking about going to the Aria Poker Room in Las Vegas for an event that was taking place. "Everybody had masks on and they had the plastic walls up. I asked myself and my wife, 'Should I play?' ...I was wondering 'Hey, should I pop down the Aria Poker Room and hop in the 300/600 game one day?' I felt pretty safe. They have the plastic between each player. But I think if somebody did have COVID and was playing, there's probably at least a 10% chance that I get it. If it really is 10%, then I probably can't play that game. But I just like the vibe and the social atmosphere and the guys that are playing."
After his win on High Stakes Duel, Hellmuth said he was getting ready to film another show for PokerGO, High Stakes Poker. He said "everyone will be COVID tested in advance," including the dealers, all the players and the staff. The tests take about three hours to clear as a nurse comes in to test everyone involved.
"I feel safe in that atmosphere and then we can play without masks," Hellmuth added. He also said he will be filming Poker After Dark for three days. "I have a fair amount of filming to do in a couple of weeks," he continued. "My plan was to fly home. But after four hours of sleep, I feel like I need to rest and relax. There's a 30% chance I'll hop on a flight at 6 or 7 p.m." Hellmuth said this after his win in High Stakes Duel, he has been on top of his game. "I've been hot man for a long time," Hellmuth stated. "I think I won 24 of the last 25 times I've filmed." It looks like the pandemic has not slowed down Hellmuth, as he continues to win tournaments and money to cement his legacy.