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Gossip Column: Phil Hellmuth Helps Fan Win Big, Eric Thompson Passes Away & More

Phil Hellmuth and Eric Thompson
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  • PG News September 6, 2018
  • 6 Mins Read

Poker is such a high-octane game that it causes a whirlwind of emotions with its followers. From joy to grief, from greed to charity. So, it’s not a surprise that gossip related to the mind sport would be packed with the same ingredients.

It’s always a joy to win in poker, but when that victory not only comes at a time of need but also through the exceptional playing prowess of the one and only Phil Hellmuth, that feeling is extra special. And that’s exactly what New Braunfels, Texas resident Patty Tillman felt after she staked Hellmuth’s action for “Poker After Dark”.

But like we said, where there is joy, there is also grief. Midwestern mid-major circuit player Eric Thompson was competing in a poker tournament but never returned to the felts the next day. Thompson suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away on September 1.

In the meanwhile, greed reared its ugly head in the U.S. when a New Jersey couple who were stopped by West Virginia police and stripped of $10,500 in casino winnings along with several other valuables during a road trip have now retrieved their confiscated belongings. The experience has been both traumatic and awful, says the couple who have vowed to never step into the state again.

But all was well again when we were given a glimpse of 6-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu‘s charitable side. The Canadian poker star can’t stop stressing on how important charity and giving to others is, for a meaningful life. Negreanu who has tailored his PokerStars Platinum Pass Adventure along the lines of charity, received mixed responses on social media for the same.

Phil Hellmuth Helps Fan Win Big

It would be an understatement to say that Phil Hellmuth‘s recent appearance on PokerGO’s “Poker After Dark” has been a success, not only for the ‘Poker Brat’ himself but for all those who backed him as well. One of whom was the 55-year old grandmother Patty Tillman.

Patty Tillman
Patty Tillman

An avid poker player and enthusiast, Tillman had decided to check out the action and thought it would be exciting and fun to stake a small part of Hellmuth’s action for the showdown, putting down $100 on Hellmuth.

Well, it seems that lady luck was on Hellmuth and Patty’s side, as the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner had a massive two-day run on the show, especially a $233,600 pot, he won against Jean-Robert Bellande, that went viral.

Pocket aces for @Phil_Hellmuth and a big decision for @BrokeLivingJRB! Watch how tonight’s #PokerAfterDark session ended with an over $230,000 pot! 🚀💰😱

For her investment of a hundred bucks, Patty received 0.25 percent of Hellmuth’s profit, which came to $836.50. It may not be a huge amount, but it came in the nick of time for the poker lover.

Talking about her husband Greg Tillman, who is a drilling consultant in the oil fields, Patty informed that a week before “Poker After Dark”, Greg was driving home from working in New Mexico. He received a phone call informing him that he’d been laid off due to his company releasing the rig where he’d been working – called “laying it down” in the industry.

“He’d been out of work for a little over a week when the game happened, and Phil blew everyone out of the water with how much profit he made,” she says.

I won $836.50 on a $100 investment by being one of @phil_hellmuth’s backers when he crushed the competition at Poker After Dark. My husband just lost his job, so this was a great win.

Hellmuth announced the winnings of his YouStake backers on Twitter.

To my @YouStake backers: I won $91,500 today, and $203,100 yesterday on @PokerGo App (Poker After Dark, watch both days now), in an epic game. I was risking $40,000, y’all did WELL: made over $60,000 for the 18% that you bought #YouStakePayingOff #POSITIVITY #EntertainingShow!

In an interview the poker star stated, “Not bad for two days of filming. I was told that it was one of the most exciting sessions and had some of the highest ratings that PAD has ever had. It feels great to make money for YouStake customers. I’ve posted five campaigns and made a bunch of money for the customers on three of them.”

For Patty though this win was not only a financial help but also of sentimental value. “I know that Phil is usually a terrible cash game player,” she said. “But I just wanted to tell my friends that I had a piece of Phil Hellmuth.”

Midwestern Poker Player Eric Thompson Dies Unexpectedly

September 1 was a sad day for poker as the sport lost one of its own. Midwestern mid-major circuit player Eric Thompson passed away unexpectedly following a heart attack.

Eric Thompson
Eric Thompson

Born on August 20, 1969, the 49-year-old player was in the running in the $100K Oklahoma State Championship Kickoff Event underway at the Hard Rock Tulsa, at the time of his passing. The tournament staff decided that instead of removing his stack, they would blind him off. They also honoured him with a moment of silence before the start of play on Day 2.

Thompson had accumulated $545,075 in tournament earnings since 2007 and was ranked 19th on the Oklahoma’s all-time money list. His best score of $103,228 came when he took down the 2014 Choctaw Fall Poker Series Championship and his banner still hangs at Choctaw poker events.

His career that stretched for over two decades was highlighted by several wins including the 2010 Hard Rock Tulsa Poker Open $340 NLH for $41,132, finishing second in the 2015 Choctaw Fall Poker Series Monster Stack for $35,976, and winning the 2015 Grand Poker Series $240 Seniors Championship for $20,190.

Many of his peers and colleagues took to social media to express their grief and disbelief.

“Eric we had so many hours of Poker played together and it was always a battle,”said friend and fellow poker player John Reynolds. “You were also always there willing to share your hotel rooms and talk Poker. We had many a fun time all over, Tulsa, Siloam, Joplin, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Durant. I will cherish all the good memories buddy, you will be missed!”

Cary McFarland offered the following: “The poker community and the world has lost a wonderful soul. Although known best in his hometown of Tulsa, he was well-liked throughout the poker world as well. As fiercely competitive as he was on the felt, he was equally caring and conscientious in the real world. Always seemed to have an encouraging word for us lesser players, or a kind word of celebration and support if we somehow bested him!”

A GoFundMe page was set up to help with funeral costs which raised $1,700 out of its $5,000 goal in the first 19 hours. The funeral service will be held on September 7 at 3.00 p.m. at Christ Memorial Episcopal Church in El Reno, Oklahoma.

West Virginia Police Swipe $10k in Casino Winnings From a Couple

The roads of West Virginia are famous, what with the legendary singer John Denver forever epitomizing them in his classic ‘country roads’. So, when a couple from New Jersey decided to drive down to the Hollywood Casino in Jefferson County, in a road trip that promised adventure and fun, little did they imagine they’d be in for an awful encounter with the state police.

Not only were the couple stopped by a state trooper who charged them of allegedly making a traffic violation, without being formally slapped of charges, they were also stripped of $10,500 in casino winnings, along with a smartphone, and 78 gift and casino rewards cards!

While the couple, identified as Dimitrios Patlias and Tonya Smith have finally got their money and confiscated property back, they had to drive back to West Virginia to retrieve them.

Dimitrios Patlias and Tonya Smith
Dimitrios Patlias and Tonya Smith

The incident happened in June. Patlias and his pregnant wife were pulled over for allegedly swerving from their lane on the highway. They were finally let off two hours later but not before police took all their money, leaving them with only $2,000 in cash. The police did so under the legal umbrella of the highly controversial practice of Civil Assets forfeiture.

Patlias later narrated that he was asked point blank, “How much money do you have on you?” When he refused to answer this, he was handcuffed, and a drug dog was called to the scene to search the car. Finding nothing, police emptied their pockets and took the money. The $10,500 in cash confiscated was what the couple had won in their visit to nearby casinos, and they furnished proper documentation to prove their payout.

Reacting to the incident, a local prosecutor defended the police saying that the area was hit hard by heroin use and often people visited the state and exchanged gift cards for drugs.

However, the couple said that most of the cards they had were loyalty or rewards cards one gets at many chain businesses. They will never step into West Virginia again, they said.

Daniel Negreanu Chooses Charity to Give a Free Platinum Pass & Gets Mixed Responses

Canadian poker pro Daniel Negreanu may be one of the richest and most successful poker players of all times but has not let fame and fortune get to him. Charity is, feels the six-time WSOP bracelet winner, very important. The Team PokerStars Pro recently talked about how he felt that life was meaningless unless one gave to others or did something for them.

Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu

If all you do is poker,” Negreanu said, “you’ll feel empty!” And so Negreanu tailored his innovative way of giving out one free Platinum Pass for the PSPC, Bahamas.

Negreanu’s PSPC Platinum Pass Adventure calls out to players to showcase what they have done to benefit others. “I’m a big believer in part of living a happy life is giving. So, this was an opportunity to give something, which the winner can also give as well,” Negreanu says.

Naturally, PokerStars was only too willing to give Negreanu the go-ahead. They also shared the news on their Twitter handle.

Did you hear? @RealKidPoker is feeling generous again. Guess what? If you’re feeling generous, too, you could end up playing the biggest $25K in poker history. #PSPC. #DonateWithDaniel


Negreanu’s initiative got many positive responses.

Definitely I’ll send my submission for that. Thank you Daniel & PS for such opportunity

While there were others who reacted somewhat differently.

So the 25k comes out of his pocket?

Unfazed, Negreanu is confident many people will come forward with great acts of selflessness and charity. While he guessed that the field for the PSPC $25K Main Event will easily cross 1,094, he wants it to be a great experience for players to qualify for and compete in.

“I want that event to be special and not just a regular tournament,” Negreanu said. The ‘RealKidPoker’ has always shouted out for charity and this time he does take it to a serious level!

That’s it for this edition! We’ll be back soon with more chitter-chatter and tittle-tattle, so stay tuned!

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