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Dennis Phillips, Poker Biography


by Jennifer Newell

Dennis Phillips was born in 1955 in the St. Louis metropolitan area in Missouri. He was born and raised in the Midwest United States, and he worked for a living for many years of his adult life as an account manager for a commercial trucking company in St. Louis called Broadway Trucks.

Poker was a longtime hobby for Phillips, and he often spent his leisure time at the casinos in and around the St. Louis area. He played low limit poker and only dabbled in the occasional tournament when his bankroll allowed. For example, in 2007, he spent a bit of his vacation time on a trip to Tunica, Mississippi, where he competed in the World Series of Poker Circuit series. His performance there was admirable, as he made the final table of the $500 no-limit hold'em tournament and finished in ninth place for $2,386, and he followed that up two days later with a seventh place finish in another $500 NLHE event for $2,192. He discovered that he not only enjoyed the competition but that he had the skills to make more money from his endeavors, though he continued to work his day job and had no idea where his poker abilities would eventually take him.

Phillips had long wanted to play in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, so when the opportunity to compete in a satellite tournament at his local Harrah's Casino in St. Louis arose in the spring of 2008, he didn't hesitate to compete. He played in a $200 satellite and won his entry into the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event, the biggest and most prestigious NLHE tournament in the world.

He headed to Las Vegas in the summer of 2008 to play in that Main Event, and he continued to run well throughout the tournament. And after numerous days of action, he was one of the nine final table players that was to take a four-month break after cashing for the minimum of nearly $900K. He and his opponents departed Las Vegas in July but returned in November to compete for the first semi-live ESPN broadcast of the final table as the chip leader. Along with him was a sizable crowd of friends and family, all wearing Phillips' signature trucking company shirt and St. Louis Cardinals red baseball cap. The Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio in Las Vegas was alive with support for the everyman, and he ended up finishing the tournament in third place, which was worth a payout of $4,517,773.

Phillips turned his third place finish into a poker career. Though he initially claimed that he would return to work no matter the outcome of the 2008 tournament, opportunities arose for him in the poker world, and he found that he truly enjoyed the tournament circuit. He also took on a sponsorship from PokerStars, which allowed him to play online as well as in live events around the world to represent the site. The responsibilities and joys of poker were just beginning for Phillips, and he quit his job to concentrate on it.

It was in 2009 that Phillips began to travel more often, starting the year with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas, and he cashed in the $4,800 NLHE tournament there, taking home $19,100 for the 17th place finish. He also finished in tenth place in a preliminary event at the Latin American Poker Tour's tour stop in Punta del Este in Uruguay. In April, he was in Las Vegas for some tournaments and won a $500 buy-in NLHE tournament that was part of the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza, and the win paid $36,496. But the tournament that garnered the most attention that summer was the WSOP Main Event, where he aimed to make a second final table. Though he wasn't able to accomplish that goal, he went deep, and out of 6,494 players, he finished in a very respectable 45th place for $178,857. And months later, he final tabled the European Poker Tour London high roller tournament and finished in seventh place for nearly $100K.

While 2010 has yet to produce the caliber of results seen in 2009, Phillips did start the year with a grand performance at the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, where he played in the $20,000 buy-in tournament and ended up finishing in third place for $125,000.

While Phillips continues to play the live tournament circuit, he has also become an avid supporter of a number of charities and plays in charity tournaments whenever the opportunity arises. Many of the events he has attended have been in St. Louis, and he was even recognized by the St. Louis Cardinals by being asked to throw out a pitch at a home game at Busch Stadium, something that meant a great deal to Phillips. He remains an affable, friendly face in events around the world and looks to add more poker accomplishments as his career seems to be in its beginning stages.

Read Dennis Phillips's Profile for more information including his tournament results and total winnings.

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Jennifer Newell Jennifer Newell is a freelance writer, originally from St. Louis but now living in Los Angeles. She fell in love with poker while working at WPT and began writing about it in 2005.