High Roller Radio Twitter Takeover Recap

It was only one word, but sometimes that’s all you need. Especially when it comes from Phil Hellmuth, perhaps the greatest tournament poker player ever. Just ask him, and he’ll tell you. With 15 gold bracelets from the World Series of Poker to his name, including the 1989 world championship, and millions of dollars won, Hellmuth is one of the game’s legendary characters. And, that’s not to mention all the flare, charisma, and drama he brings to any card table he sits down at.

The ‘Poker Brat’ was responding to a tweet about his mother from @themaplecasino that read, “Phil gave her one of his 15 WSOP bracelets,” and another about his fiery temper, “she told me he gets his competitiveness from his grandfather.”

Great tidbits, right? Well, in a space reserved for 280 characters, he managed just four. Keep in mind, @phil_hellmuth has 285,000 followers.

Short, sweet and simple, and certainly enough to confirm the statements as accurate. It’s a good thing, too. They were generated from the Maple Casino timeline, but it was actually me, yours truly, doing the typing.

Twitter Takeover

On Thursday December 10th, as part of a special promotion, Maple Casino launched a so-called ‘Twitter Takeover’, featuring the hashtag HRRxMaple. HRR? That’s me, @HighRollerRadio, and what a thrill it was to be involved. Not sure how or why Maple executives put their faith and trust in me, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise and fully appreciated.

Twitter Takeover Promo

“Keep it PG,” they said, their only directive.

So, for five hours that night, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., I was logged in and posting from @themaplecasino. So much fun. And, that short reply from Hellmuth was an ideal start to the night’s proceedings.

High Roller Radio

Admittedly, the website highrollerradio.net isn’t surging up the Google rankings, it’s not updated as much as it once was, but I am quite active on twitter @HighRollerRadio and youtube at HighRollerRadioTV. It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable, educational and rewarding hobby, and it’s afforded me the opportunity to meet and interview some all-time greats. Absolute legends.

Poker expert? They may have taken some liberties with that claim, but I do try. I love poker, and have played the World Series of Poker a few times, the World Heads-Up Championship in Barcelona, Spain, and cash games all over the world. If that qualifies me as an expert then I’ll raise my hand, but it’s likely more accurate to just say I’m a huge fan of the game, I like to test my wits, and that I’ve won more than I’ve lost.

Freelancing for Maple the past two years has been a gift. My contributions include articles on everything from gambling movies and pop culture, to strategy and rules of the game, to lengthy 2,000-word features on the true professionals. Players like Mike ‘GoLeafsGoEh’ Leah, a Canadian who’s won a whopping $8 million playing cards, Tom McEvoy, the 1983 world champion who led the charge to ban smoking in poker rooms everywhere, and K.L. Cleeton, who is batting a thousand at the WSOP, cashing in his first and only main event despite suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Another enjoyable piece was my profile on craps legend Dominic LoRiggio, the man with the ‘Golden Arm’, who is so good at controlling the dice he’s been banned from casinos everywhere. Tip #1? Never put your money on the ‘Don’t Pass’ line. It’s bad mojo.

Key to the City

We all know Phill Hellmuth is ‘must watch’ television. In the big moments, he’s box office.

“My favourite player to watch,” read one of my first tweets of the takeover. “The ‘Poker Brat,’ as he’s known, isn’t a brat at all. He’s skilled, competitive, and actually a very nice guy. Not to mention a compelling character at the table.”

Something I didn’t include on Maple’s timeline? In 2009, Hellmuth traveled to Calgary to play in the $5,000 heads-up main event at the Canadian Open Poker Championships. That’s where I first met him, and actually gave him a ride back to his hotel one night.

Phil Hellmuth

A very tall man, and quite intimidating at first, he’s enjoyable to be around and has a great sense of humour. All dressed in black, with his headphones on and listening to music, he turned heads when he confidently strolled into the Stampede Casino.

A little-known fact about Phil? During his stay in Calgary, he was treated by politicians to the pomp and pageantry of a ‘White Hat’ ceremony, which is effectively like being handed the key to the city.

While he played his opening match, it was a true pleasure to sit and chat for hours with his mother, who shared so many great stories about her son.

Sister Scores a Selfie

Years later in Las Vegas, at the 2015 World Series of Poker, I played against him during the inaugural Colossus, which set the record for most entries ever in a live poker tournament, a whopping 22,374. Imagine the odds. All those people, and we somehow landed at the same table, directly across from one another.

“Got moved to his table,” I told Maple’s audience. “Was dealt cards, folded, as did he, and before I had my chips out of the tray, he was moved to a different table. One hand!”

Trust me, I was ready to bust him, too. He was just as friendly the second time around, and actually stepped away from his table to pose for a selfie with my sister Erin.

HRR's sister with Phil Hellmuth

The Trip of a Lifetime

“Don’t ask me how I did!”

It was fun reflecting on my time in Barcelona as well. In 2007, playing a $40 online satellite on 888 Poker (Pacific Poker then) with 242 players, I managed to win the tournament, and the trip of lifetime in the process. The prize was entry into the World Heads-Up Poker Championship, and a chance at life changing money. All expenses paid, too.

“I’m asking! How did you do?” replied a curious @puppypack1.

Sad to say, not good. I was KO’d my first match by a pretty crafty American, who managed to get most of the money in the middle while holding pocket kings to my pair of eights. Fair play. The frustrating part, I would have been up against Dave Ulliot, one of the true characters of the game, in Round 2. That would have been a treat. The ‘Devilfish’, as he was affectionately known, passed away in 2015 and was posthumously inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame two years later.

Dave Ulliott

The event was played at the Grand Casino, on the shores of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, and was won by London England’s Jeff Kimber.

“Memories,” he said, retweeting one of our posts.

The takeover was flowing nicely now. Kimber, by the way, was much more gracious with his time than just a simple retweet. He also granted us an interview in the days leading up to our special evening.

“The World Heads-Up Championship was really important for me. It was my first year as a full-time poker player, I’d left work, and felt like the title was a pat on the back, an affirmation that full-time poker was the right direction to go.”

Jeff Kimber

It was fun for Kimber to reflect on that tournament and, like me, fondly recalls the antics and exploits of Ulliot that week.

“He was a real showman. As you entered the casino, at the bottom of the stairs there was a piano, and Dave would be playing on that and singing to nobody in particular. I’d never heard the song Desperado before, and I never wanted to hear it again.”

It’s interesting that he remembers The Eagles, I remember Elvis. Rest in Peace Devilfish.

Darts, Anyone?

You might say we hit the bullseye with this promotion. The takeover featured more than just poker and gambling, the game of darts was also on the docket. I love darts and follow it quite closely. New Brunswick’s Jeff Smith, Canada’s #1 player, who was set to depart for London, England, just two days later for the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, somehow squeezed us in for quick Q&A. I’m happy to report it was picked up by Dartsweb, a publication across the pond in the UK, and it was an excellent write-up.

Transcontinental press? On our first attempt? The twitter takeover was working.

Awesome Night

At one point during the evening, we mentioned world champion Greg Raymer, and those highly intimidating sun glasses he wore during the 2004 WSOP main event. Remember them? Scary.

Greg Raymer

“Thank-you for your kind words,” he said.

Again, another indication the twitter takeover was working.

By all accounts, it was a huge success. Maple Casino really is Canada’s premier online casino guide, and continues to succeed in connecting people like me, a recreational, semi-serious poker player, with the best online gambling sites on offer in the country. The people at Maple are terrific, super flexible and easy to work with. Special thanks to all those who took part.

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver

Derrick Oliver Dewan is the founder of High Roller Radio and has interviewed a number of the world’s top poker players and gamblers. A former radio and television broadcaster, Derrick was brand manager for Poker Pro Canada magazine and has written for a variety of publications, including the Toronto Star & Windsor Life.

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