Thursday, September 09, 2004

Review: Phil Hellmuth's Million Dollar Poker System

By chance I was able to view the DVD set of Phil Hellmuth's Million Dollar Poker System. A friend had borrowed them from a friend and I then borrowed them from him. I was expecting revelations bestowed upon me from a World Class Poker Player but instead was sorely disappointed.

The Phil Hellmuth's Million Dollar Poker System brought to us by Masters of Poker is a set four DVD's. The discs are broken down as the Million Dollar Poker System, Tournament Strategies, Secrets to Bluffing and Tells, and Online Secrets. The set sells for $74.95 at Phil Hellmuth's site. In this review I will only talk about the Poker System DVD. The others will follow with a post devoted to each.

Before we start discussing content lets take a look at production value and overall impressions. Granted Phil is not an actor and other than mugging for the ESPN cameras I am unaware of any real television experience. Phil does an adequate job with his presentations but his discomfort shines through from time to time. He looks just slightly off camera at odd times as if he's checking a monitor. This is slightly distracting for some reason but not enough to make you lose interest. Phil's choice of wardrobe however was very lacking. Sporting a light blue polo type shirt that seemed buttoned up a little to far just gave him a poindexter look. During one segment Phil is actually wearing a black button down shirt with the cuffs unbuttoned. Phil explains that this segment was filmed at a later time and he insisted it be inserted into the video. In his new shirt Phil appears to be trying to look "hip" but the production would have been better served if they just had held continuity with one shirt. This may be picky but seeing Phil as a poindexter then trying to pull off the hipster look was just too much.

The onscreen graphics are generally accompanied by what I'd describe as a whooshing sound to emphasize their arrival. The words are big enough on their own that it is unnecessary to announce their arrival and it seems as though they were added because someone thought it was cool. Similarly whenever a list of items was placed down the side of the screen a blue shimmering background was used. It looked good but was just too distracting. The camera operators also seemed to have some issues with focus at times so the overall production value is what I would relate to a program done in someones basement with very little funding.

Now for actual Poker content. If you've played poker for more than a month or two this DVD is not for you. I was expecting a look into the mind of Phil Hellmuth and instead was given a rudimentary introduction to the game of Texas Hold'em. A hurried explanation of the rules of the game were given in a wholly inadequate way. This video is targeted to the newbie yet I believe someone who has never played the game would still be a little confused after hearing his explanation. When the hand rankings were presented, instead of using a traditional format and listing them from High Card to Royal Flush, Phil listed them in the opposite order. I believe that the general public would be able to understand it better working bottom to top instead of top to bottom. Phil also makes the comment that millions of dollars have been won with just one pair. Thanks for encouraging the fish Phil. Granted this is a true statement, but the way it was presented was misleading without a knowledge of the subtleties of the game.

At a 69 minute run time including credits and advertising the DVD is far to short to adequately explain what it needs to. Everything that Phil talks about can be found on the internet with very little effort. The only original item that Phil imparts on his audience is the Phil Hellmuth Top Ten Hands. Since I'm sure these are copyrighted in some way you should only get this info from the DVD or his book. If you wanted to put it to the man though I'm sure these could also be found somewhere on the internet. Phil touches on several subjects including the starting hand requirements, player types, pot odds, and when to raise and fold. A small comparison between limit and no limt play is also discussed but again all of this information is presented in greater detail and in easier to understand terms on the internet.

There are times when Phil even seems to contradict himself as you can tell he's thinking in advanced terms yet trying to speak in the most basic. A lot of this could and should have been cleaned up in editing but as mentioned the production value is minimal. Overall this product just wouldn't get my money. If I was given a copy for free I might have someone who's never played before watch it, but I'd have to be there to answer their questions if I did. I am hopeful that the remaining three DVD's will offer greater value but I can't say I'm optimistic.

Up next Tournament Strategies...