Sorry if this post is a little long, but I just got a little carried away with it...

A day later than I wanted to write this, but something that I've wanted to write about for a while. Finally remembered about the idea when I saw the news earlier this week that Phil Hellmuth had won his 14th WSOP bracelet. What a remarkable accomplishment! Whether you like him or not, you have to respect the amount of success he's had in his illustrious career and how much of an icon he currently is in the game.

I have nothing but respect for him and absolutely love watching him play poker. The neat thing to notice on Twitter is how much the other pros and fans of the game love watching him too. Yes, I know that some people just want to see him go on another possible legendary rant or tantrum on someone, but I think most people are excited to see when someone of his calibre can continue to add to what has been an amazing career.

Like I've said in the past, I've been playing poker since well before I was legal age to play in a casino. I started gambling on sports through the local lottery as early as 12 years old thanks to a very nice woman who owned the convenience store beside our school and loved to talk about hockey bets with us. I started playing poker around that age as well with my friends and we got a weekly game going for many years.

However, I didn't really get serious about the game until my early 20's. My very first poker book that I read was "Playing with the Pros" by Phil Hellmuth. For whatever reason, everything he wrote seemed to resonate with me and I read it multiple times over the years. Fast forward over a decade later and I couldn't even tell you the number of poker books I've read, but I always remember the knowledge that I got from that first book.

So, I think it's pretty obvious after this long intro that my favourite player of all time is Phil Hellmuth. I'll say right now that I'm not a fan of when he blows up and I actually cringe every time I see it on an old YouTube video. However, when it comes to the game itself, I love so many aspects of his game.

The first thing I like is how he sticks with the mantra of always getting his money in with the best. He'll go to extreme lengths to preserve this notion and I know there's always going to be debate about the pure mathematics of it all, but I respect how he sticks to his guns on this aspect.

The other thing that you can't deny is how well he can read a hand or situation that he's in. He seems to always know where he is in a hand and because of that, it makes it really difficult for an opponent to extract a large amount of chips from him in one single hand.

My other favourite players of all time include:

1) Daniel Negreanu

How can you not root for the guy? There's a reason why he's the most marketable player out there and it's because of his infectious personality and ability to connect with the audience and his fans. I feel like there's too many players on TV nowadays that are good players but have absolutely ZERO personality to speak of, so the casual player just turns off the TV. Daniel keeps things entertaining and gives the casual viewer a reason to watch.

Never mind the fact that he's a pretty good player in his own right. Clearly I'm being sarcastic when I say pretty good. Another player like Phil Hellmuth that seems to know exactly where he stands in every hand and can extract the most money with his "small-ball" system.

2) Phil ivey

The only guy I think of that can seemingly yawn through the middle of hand for hundreds of thousands of dollars as if he has ice water running through his veins. Well maybe Patrik Antonius as well, but I digress.

For the record, yes I do know that there was the controversy surrounding possibe cheating at a London casino and if that was the case, then I'm absolutely against that kind of behaviour, but I just want to talk about him in a poker sense.

If Daniel Negreanu has the infectious personality, then Phil Ivey just owns the coolness factor. It's amazing how popular someone can get when they say a total of maybe 5 words during a TV taping, but that's Phil Ivey. Something about that look he has at the table where he makes everything look so effortless as he constantly rakes in large pots for lots of money.

3) Johnny Lodden

A little off-the-board with this selection, but having watched a few EPT episodes and some hands involving Johnny, the biggest takeaway from his play is just how flexible he can be with his strategy and how fearless he can be.

I know that he admitted to going broke in 2009 after playing nose-bleed level cash games, but it still doesn't take away from my enjoyment of hands that I've watched involving Johnny over the years.

I just love the fact that he seems to be able to play a particular hand a hundred different ways depending on different variables. I think it's a sign of a tremendous player when you can recognize that he could play a single hand of poker all different kinds of ways and still find a way to take the pot down. 

Other notable considerations (in alphabetical order):

1) Patrik Antonius (Just so cerebral in his poker style...what an intimidating presence!)

2) Johnny Chan (How can you not root for the guy that's the main subject in Rounders?)

3) Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak (How can you not have one without the other?)

4) Ted Forrest (So much money won in poker and reportedly so much bet on craps as kind of guy!)

5) Jennifer Harman (So well respected by her peers in a game so dominated by men)

6) John Juanda (Another intimidating player that seems to have the same expression whether he won a million dollar pot or lost a million dollar pot)

It's not a coincidence that none of the newer generation of players are on this list. I just don't find them to be too entertaining, but that's just my opinion.

Love to hear who your favourite players are and why they are. So go for it with some comments and let me know what you think.

Good luck at the tables!