- Andrew Feldman, ESPN.com
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Welcome to the "loser's lounge" Phil Hellmuth.
Hellmuth was named the replacement for Phil Gordon as co-host on Bravo's "Celebrity Poker Showdown" Wednesday.
Hellmuth, most well known for his nine World Series of Poker bracelets and Tivo-worthy temper tantrums, may have to bite his tongue when it comes to the play of some of the celebrities.
"I've watched the show over the years and have really enjoyed watching the celebrities play no-limit hold'em the game that I love so much," Hellmuth said. "I'm looking forward to helping them out, critiquing their play a little bit and hosting the show."
The new episodes will tape from April 7-9 in New Orleans and premier on Bravo in June. Since it's premier, "Celebrity Poker Showdown" has donated over $2 million to various charities. Continuing that trend, all money generated during this season will be donated to foundations that benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"It feels pretty good," Hellmuth said. "I'm going to have to have a new level of tolerance with the celebrities' play. My intent is not to be the man that everyone hates, my intent is to not tell the celebrities how bad they may play.
"I'm planning on developing some new words and sayings such as, 'I think he could have played that one a little bit better,' or if their play is glaringly bad, I'll say, 'Well, the pros wouldn't have played that play that way.'"
Hellmuth signed on for three seasons and although he has not met co-host Dave Foley, he's not worried.
"Although I have not met Dave," Hellmuth said, "I get along with everyone really well ... unless they a pull a bad beat on me."
Residing in the loser's lounge will also be a big adjustment for the player who is one behind all-time leader Men "The Master" Nguyen in career cashes at the World Series of Poker.
"Oh man! I hate the idea of being in the loser's lounge," he said, "but since I haven't been winning enough tournaments lately, I may just deserve to be there."
Although he may think so, his nine WSOP bracelets may argue on his behalf.
Andrew Feldman is the ESPN Poker Club's columnist, editor, producer and tournament director. To contact Andrew, e-mail email@example.com.
46mMichael C. Wright