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Who's the Best WSOP Bracelet Winner?

16 June 2012, By:
Both Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey have made headlines this week for their respective bracelet chases.
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Both Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey have made headlines this week for their respective bracelet chases.

On Sunday, Hellmuth took down his 12th bracelet while Ivey finished 2nd in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship.

Three days later, Ivey finished 3rd in the $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8-or-Better Event. This prompted Gary Wise of ESPN to ask fans on Twitter whom they think is the best WSOP bracelet winner.

In today's point-counterpoint, we look at arguments for both sides and tPoker Junkie blogger Compncards shares his opinion on who he thinks is the best.

Point - Phil Hellmuth Adapted to All Eras of Hold'em, Ivey Stuck in the Past

Phil Hellmuth has 12 WSOP bracelet wins and, until this year, each and every bracelet had been in the game of Texas Hold'em.

Many pros gave Hellmuth a lot of grief because he did not have titles in other games, but many of those same players do not have Phil's accomplishments.

While it's true that he won his Main Event bracelet during the era where the Main Event drew far fewer entries, he has won bracelets in fields of over 2,500 players.

He also has bracelets in every form of Hold'em, proving to be able to master Limit, No-Limit and Pot-Limit Hold'em equally.

Phil Ivey on the other hand has exactly 0 Hold'em titles. Every title he has is either in mixed games or in Stud.

Until recently, Stud players were largely considered dinosaur players and the main reason that pros have begun to win bracelets again in recent years is because they focus on mixed and non-Hold'em games.

In the last couple of years, Hellmuth has proven that he can hang in those games as well and, barring a couple of bad runs heads-up, he might have 3 non-Hold'em bracelets now in the last two years instead of one.

Counterpoint - Ivey Has Proven a Master of All While Hellmuth a Master of One

Phil Ivey has eight WSOP bracelets and those wins have encompassed every form of poker offered at the WSOP short of lowball and badugi.

The non-Hold'em events are stacked with pros and limit non-Hold'em specialists. It's not as easy to find a table of rookies and stack them like it is in NL Hold'em events.

When Ivey is playing and focused, he wins. The only reason he isn't already at nine or even 10 bracelets is because he took a year off.

Hellmuth, on the other hand, has proven that he can win Hold'em events and while that is impressive, he needs to win more than just a Razz event to prove to me that he can play other games.

Yes, he had an impressive run last year. But it was just that - a run. Let him continue that past this bracelet win and then maybe we can consider him competent.

Compncards' Take - Look at the Scoreboard

When Gary Wise asked the question on Twitter regarding who the best bracelet winner was, my response was simply "look at the scoreboard."

There is little doubt that Phil Ivey is the all-around best poker player in the world but the question here was not about who the best poker player is. It's who the best "bracelet winner" is.

Phil Hellmuth is all about the bracelets. It's what defines him as a poker player and is nearly his only goal in life during the WSOP.

Ivey has the desire to win bracelets, but it's not all-consuming like it is with Hellmuth. Hellmuth steps up his game and puts everything into those events and the proof is in the 12 bracelets he now holds.

Right now, Hellmuth is the greatest bracelet winner in WSOP history. Based on raw talent and poker ability, Ivey may someday overtake him.

However, that day may be years or decades away as Hellmuth has no intentions of going quietly into poker's history books.

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