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Mar. 31st, 2009 @ 07:49 am poker? I don't even know her - no, really
I set out to write a response to naturalborn's comment and quickly realized that I might as well be trying to write a novel in swahili. I cannot express how distant, foreign and irrelevant poker now seems to me.

Still, that doesn't mean I've become incapable of appreciating this particular genius (h/t rafe, and I think that's my first "h/t" ever, usually I let people suffer in obscurity but I feel bad about it, so...)
"Return to the Sacred" by Jonathan Ellerby is an amazing book! In March, 2008 I was feeling super stressed out, and super burned out, by the dual pressures of trying to be one of the greatest poker players in history, and dealing with the fame factor that drives so many celebs over the edge. I was starting to melt down and it was affecting my health (a little bit), and I couldn't figure out why. I mean, I had the poker records, the fortune, the fame, the wonderful wife, the great kids, the 12 million "Milwaukee's Best" beer cans coming with my picture and likeness, the NYT bestselling book ("Play Poker like the Pros"), one million subscribers on my "Phil Hellmuth's Texas Hold'em" cell phone game, a column in 40 newspapers, a piece of 18 different companies, I was on television every day, and I had much, much more. So what was the problem? Why do so many celebs with so much wealth and success melt down?

Well, first my wife convinced me to go to "Canyon Ranch" in Tuscon with her, which is the world's leading health spa, for one week. Then I called my friends at Taser and borrowed their jet for the ride down there. My wife and I joined the "Life enhancement" program, although I insisted on renting one of the best houses on campus. I thought, "If we were going to spend $18,000 for the week, then why not spend $30,000 and go in luxurious style?" Since I was starting to feel horrible around my chest and stomach (just for three or four days, thank god!), I ordered every test under the sun, and when my health scores came back "Perfect" (across the board, yes!), I knew that this physical unrest was all related to the mental side of the coin.
Believe it or not, it goes on from there. I wonder how thrilled this Ellerby fellow is to have obtained such an endorsement. Were I him, it'd be lawsuit time.
About this Entry
Date:March 31st, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
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I'm stunned that it took me until "greatest" to figure out who the author was. I should have known by the first exclamation point.

How can anyone actually write and post that with a straight face?
Date:April 1st, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
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I read the whole post. Can't seem to get my jaw to go back into place.
Date:April 1st, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)


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I am simply astounded at how often and inappropriately he uses quotation marks.
Date:April 2nd, 2009 06:11 am (UTC)
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The sickest part is that I genuinely believe he is not trying to play a character. I used to find him somewhat entertaining, now I am usually just disgusted by his delusions. Maybe again I'll cycle back to enjoying him and his delusions.
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Date:April 2nd, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
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The sickest part is that I genuinely believe he is not trying to play a character.

Hey, I've been trying to tell people that since the '90s, but mostly people would rather trust their intuition ("nobody could REALLY be like that!") than the opinion of someone who spent hundreds of hours as his captive audience.

His reception by the public benefits in dramatic fashion from this accidental generosity. He is, quite literally, too ridiculous to be believed.
Date:April 3rd, 2009 05:35 am (UTC)
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As much as I'm sure we all trust and your experiences there's a part of the brain that kicks in and says "no it has to be an act, no one is that far up their own ass".

That part of the brain is a survival mechanism, since without it I suspect there would be a large number of Hellmuth induced suicides, and a even more attempted murders.
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Date:April 1st, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
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March, 2008 eh? If that's the case it sure didn't seem to stop him from the penalty debacle at the 2008 Main Event. Did you hear anything about that Paul? I spoke with some of the other guys at the press table and got quite an earful about the history of preferential treatment of pros by tournament directors. Got any good stories?
Date:April 13th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
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Rich and famous (and attractive) people generally receive preferential treatment. Use your imagination.
Date:April 3rd, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
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Is your problem with poker the poker community, the tournament scene, or have you simply moved on to other things?

Maybe it's the lack of having to ever deal with him in person, but I find Hellmuth just plain funny and laugh at him without getting worked up about it. Maybe if I were forced to sit in a room with him and have a discussion his existence would start to actually bother me, but hey, that's true of a lot of people on the internet.
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Date:April 8th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
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It's not a problem per se, I've just spent way more than enough of my life playing cards. And I have very much moved onto something else -- which it's on my list of things to do to talk to you about. To end the suspense, software! I've spent every free minute programming for getting close to a year now.
Date:April 10th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
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I'd be interested in seeing what you've got. It's always fun to have a programming project, because forward progress is so tangible.

I feel the need to give you a little bit of advance warning thought that for anything anonymity/crypto related there's often a lot of negative feedback when you first show it to experts. The pitfall is that 'it works' is a simple bar to cross, while 'it's secure' is not. Those things are easy to get wrong!

Not that I want to discourage anything. Just be forewarned that there may be issues which require significant reworking to do anything about.
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Date:April 13th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Don't worry, I'm not hoping to impress you with anything I've already done. The only work of lasting interest I've done these last 12 months is a huge quantity of technical self-improvement. It is the uses to which I might now put that (and the rest of my resources, such as they are) that I want to talk to you about.
Date:April 5th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)

A rarity indeed!

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There is one grammatical error in this post. I've never known Paul to let one slip!
Date:April 6th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
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I cannot express how distant, foreign and irrelevant poker now seems to me.

This might be the most cheerful, optimistic thing that you have ever written.
Date:April 6th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
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How many readers would you have without poker :-)

I know I went looking for your blog because I was reading Daniel Negreanu's early blog posts and, although his heart's in the right place, his naivete on everything beyond the world of poker is just overwhelming. As an antidote I decided to look for the anti-Daniel player in terms of education and general knowledge of the world.
Date:April 13th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)


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The Hellmuth Jopke Syndrome

for advanced degenerative narcissitic personality disorder

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:[1]. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
[2]. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
[3]. believes that he or she is "special".
[4]. requires excessive admiration
[5]. has a sense of entitlement
[6]. is interpersonally exploitative
[7]. lacks empathy
[8]. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
[9]. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Love hearing about Ivy. Kids are amazing. I am so blessed to have two of my own. Did she go through the Thomas the Tank Engine phase. Can't wait to see what you have been programming on. Web based or device based. Are you a Java or .Net kinda guy. I am thinking Java. I am a database guy who would like to have better programming skills. Not enough time in the day.

Date:April 13th, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC)

Re: unvbelievable

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I highly doubt Paul is using Java (or .Net for that matter.) But WTF do I know?

Also your diagnosis of PH is missing some things. He practices self-deception and has a problem with the truth (e.g. He claims to be a winning cash game player)