Skip to main content

Intramural sports welcomes Texas hold ‘em star

November 2, 2004 By John Lucas

Nine students will square off against poker superstar Phil Hellmuth Jr. to crown the Intramural Sports Texas Hold ‘em “Champion of Champions.”

The event will take place from 7-10:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, in the On Wisconsin Room of the Red Gym. The event is free and open to the public.

Hellmuth, who attended the UW in the late 1980s, is one of the biggest celebrities in the world of professional poker. He has won the World Series of Poker nine times, collecting $3.6 million in winnings. He began playing cards at Memorial Union and ultimately left the university to launch his professional career.

In Texas Hold ‘em, each player receives two cards — known as “hole” cards — face down. The next five cards are all common cards dealt face up, meaning any player can use any of the latter to make a hand. Players bet at each stage of the deal, and have the option to go “all-in,” wagering all of their chips on a single hand.

“I have the innate ability to understand what people are doing at the poker table and away from the poker table, and I can tell if they’re lying,” Hellmuth told On Wisconsin magazine in 2003. “I think that maybe I’m the best in the world at reading people in poker.”

Students in the competitions each won a smaller “satellite” Intramural Sports tournament to qualify for a seat at the final table. No money is associated with the tournament and the only prizes are Intramural Sports T-shirts, along with books and DVDs signed by Hellmuth.

For spectators, Hellmuth will wear a microphone and there will be a table microphone to capture banter and other sounds at the table. Images of common cards will be projected onto a large screen, if technology allows. Time permitting, Hellmuth also may sign autographs.

For more information or rules for the competition, contact Michael Warren, (608) 265-3828, or by email at or visit the Texas Hold ‘em “Champion of Champions” Web site.