The World Series of Poker bestowed the game’s ultimate honor today on two of poker’s premier players, inducting Barbara Enright and Phil Hellmuth Jr. into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Enright is the first woman inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in its 28-year history. Hellmuth recently won a record 11th WSOP gold bracelet, breaking a three-way tie with poker legends Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, who’ve earned 10 bracelets apiece.
“The criteria and standards for induction into the Hall of Fame are high,” said Jeffrey Pollack, WSOP Commissioner. “A gambler must have played against top competition for high stakes, played well and gained the respect of his or her peers, and stood the test of time.
“Barbara and Phil clearly meet these high standards, and we are delighted to welcome them into the Hall of Fame as the Class of 2007,” Pollack said.
Enright and Hellmuth join 33 other members of the Hall of Fame, including legends such as Brunson, Chan, Stu Ungar, Johnny Moss, “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Benny and Jack Binion, Chip Reese, T.J. Cloutier, Puggy Pearson and Nick the Greek Dandalos.
Enright was born in Los Angeles. Her first job was as a cocktail waitress, where her photographic memory enabled her to remember numerous drink orders at once, a skill that would prove useful at the poker table.
Enright earned a cosmetology license and worked as a stylist in Hollywood with several celebrity clients. During her free time, she started playing poker in the cardrooms of Gardena, California, during the 1970s. She did so well she eventually decided to quit her regular job and play poker for a living. Specializing in lowball draw games, she made enough money to support herself and her son for several years.
Enright won the very first poker tournament she entered – the Ladies World Championship at the 1986 World Series of poker. She played numerous tournaments and side games over the years and won her second Ladies World Poker Championship in 1995.
The following year, Enright made poker history by becoming the first woman ever to appear at the final table of the $10,000 buy-in Main Event – a record that still stands – and finishing in fifth place. Enright went on to win the Pot-Limit Omaha world championship in 1996 – giving her three WSOP gold bracelets.
Enright has led a colorful life both at and away from the poker table. She was once married to a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was editor of the first poker magazine for women, called “Woman Poker Player,” and today she lives in Hollywood with poker writer Max Shapiro.
Hellmuth began his spectacular poker career with a victory in the 1989 WSOP Main Event, a win that ignited a meteoric rise of personal and professional achievement unmatched by anyone over the last 18 years. Hellmuth holds – or is well on his way to holding – virtually every meaningful record in WSOP history, remarkable achievements for a man who is just 42 years old.
Originally from Wisconsin, Hellmuth dropped out of college to pursue a poker career and has since become one of the most instantly recognizable celebrities in the game. He has more cashes – 59 – at the WSOP than anyone in history. Hellmuth has gained fame for both his outbursts at the poker table and for a number of his quotable statements, including “If there was no luck in poker tournaments, I’d win every single one of them” and “I can dodge bullets, baby.”