Aggressiveness: 8
Looseness: 8
Short-handed: 9
Limit: 8
No-limit: 7
Tournaments: 9
Side games: 8
Steam control: 7
Against weak players: 8
Against strong players: 8

Best game : Seven-card stud
Weakness : Now focuses on cash games, not tournaments

I think he is the best tournament player in the world. He’s the only player to graduate from the tournament field and be successful at the biggest game. Some of the top players are still skeptical, but they don’t seem to realize he is still an improving player and he has unmatched raw talent.

I often hear people saying Phil has been less successful than he has been in the past. 2004 has been Phil’s best year in poker, but he hasn’t played many tournaments. And when he has played in a tournament event, he has played tired because of the cash game the night before. (I know because I have been in the games with him.) He also has had to adopt a style geared to build up quickly or get knocked out quickly during the event, so that he won’t wear himself out for the cash game later that night. There were two big events in 2004 where there wasn’t a big cash game: the live Fox telecast in Turning Stone, New York which Phil won and the Monte Carlo Millions in which he came in third.

Amusing anecdote

Phil had started playing in Los Angeles several years back and he asked me, “Where is the best place to live?” I told him, “I live in the best area, but it’s pretty pricy.” Phil always thinks big. He said, “I want to take a look at it.”

He came over to the house with his wife Luciaetta, and I needled him when I said, “See, this is how a successful poker player lives.” He said, “This is out of my league now, but some day I’ll own a big house like this, too.” Phil was especially interested in the sit-down Ms. Pac Man game that was in my gameroom. I mentioned that I bought it for my girlfriend because she was the best that I had ever seen at it. He said he was the best that anyone had ever seen. I got a call from someone at the airport who wanted me to pick them up. Phil and Luciaetta were having fun with my kids and I asked them if they minded watching my kids until I got back. Phil asked, “Can I play the Ms. Pac Man game?” I said, “Of course.” When I returned an hour later, Phil was still sitting playing the game. He smiled and said, “Well, your girlfriend doesn’t have the high score anymore.”

Title: Pinball Wizard
Artist: The Who
Year: 1969

Reason for this song choice

Phil becomes one with his environment — “part of the machine” as the lyrics say — better than anyone else, whether he is playing video games or playing poker. Although he is far from “the deaf, dumb, and blind kid” of the song, it always surprises me when people occasionally attribute “dumb luck” to the great results of this extremely intelligent player.