Online poker behemoth PokerStars has announced the addition of two members of the fabled ‘November Nine’ to their roster of sponsored pros. Dennis Phillips and Ylon Shwartz, who finished 3rd and 4th in the 2008 WSOP main event respectively, have officially joined up with the likes of Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein – as well as former WSOP champions Chris Moneymaker and Joe Hachem. Like that illustrious group, the pair will represent and promote PokerStars both online and in high-profile live events.
Well known in the casinos around his hometown of St. Louis as a successful small stakes player, Phillip’s sudden leap to fame at the hands of the World Series was almost a fairy-tale story. Entering the final table as chip leader, he could not manage more than third place, collecting a still humongous $4,517,773 in prize money. His activities since the culmination of the main event have shown that the cash certainly hasn’t gone to his head. Having pledged to donate a portion of the winnings to charity, he returned to his job at a trucking company. His only small foray into the limelight has been to host a local radio show in the St. Louis area. With the backing of PokerStars we can expect to see him making more experiences on tour, with his recent success in a $5,000 event at the EPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (finishing 17th for $19,100) no doubt a sign of things to come.
Dennis Phillips has revealed that Poker has transformed hislife. In an interview, he gave a whole number of plusses that have come around since taking up the sport full-time.
“How did the Main Event change my life? Where do I begin? I went from not having a passport to travelling 200,000 miles in a single year. I’ve been to all four corners of the earth as a poker player and ambassador. I’ve become financially secure, purchased the company I used to work for and have met a large number of celebrities. There have not been a whole lot of big splurges. I still live in the same house and I still drive the same car. But I did go to a charity auction and buy a shadow box shaped like a home plate. It contains 11 baseballs that have been autographed by great Hall of Fame players like Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial. But I’ve done more in terms of investing money than spending it.”
“I’ll also say that my poker game has improved. There are several reasons for this. To begin with, I’ve been travelling around the world and playing poker at a higher level than I had been previously. Plus, I’ve gotten friendly with people like Barry Greenstein and Daniel Negreanu. I talk to them about various situations and they explain how they might have handled them. They help me to develop fresh ideas about poker hands and how the game can be played. Barry and Daniel are great guys who are very generous in terms of sharing their poker knowledge.”
“Sometimes, because people know who I am, I have to play differently than I ordinarily would. At the last World Series [during which Phillips finished a very respectable 45th, showing that his 2008 performance wasn’t a complete fluke] I had a camera crew following me for all of day one. People at my table played crazily, just for a chance to get on TV with me. So I tightened up and played like a complete nit. I couldn’t play my regular game that day. Obviously, that was completely different from day one in 2008.”
“Looking back, I can tell you that I never imagined becoming a professional poker player. I played the game because I loved it – and I still do. Poker is fun and enjoyable and now I can make good money from it too. I keep my feet on the ground and try to keep evolving as a poker player.”
Connecticut’s famous Foxwoods casino will be hosting a Mega Stack Challenge from May 11 to May 17 so expect your fair share of poker’s elite, especially after the announcement that 2008 November Niners Dennis Phillips and Kevin Schaffel will be participating in the week-long festivities.
A two-day $340 event opens proceedings with a guaranteed prize pool of $125,000 and a 300BB starting stack; this will be followed by a $560 event across another two days. The festival culminates in the featured tournament, a $1,500 + $150 event with a $250,000 guaranteed prize pool.
Affordable stuff for Phillips and Schaffel, who picked up $4.6m and $1.3m in the 2008 and 2009 Main Event respectively. Phillips has since become a PokerStars Pro and has made deep runs in several tournaments including the 2009 Main Event as well as appearing on GSN’s High Stakes Poker.
You may know who wins the National Heads-Up Poker Championship but you don’t know HOW! Check it out this Sunday!
The National Heads-Up Poker Championship starts with 64 poker pros and whittles it down to a single heads up match. Along the way the TV program shows you the highlights, but now that it is down to just four the viewers are in for some detailed coverage as Erik Seidel, Scotty Nguyen. Annie Duke and Dennis Phillips battled it out.
The show will air from noon to 3, three hours of great poker coverage that will follow the two matches to determine the final heads up battle, which will run best two out of three.