An accountant for a trucking company in Missouri, Dennis Phillips had been playing poker for years before he made it big at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), but never on anything more than a casual basis. His rise from being an everyday man on the street to a poker hero proved that so long as you have the skills, anyone can make it to the top of the game, and reap the riches that come with it.
A regular face at card rooms across Missouri, Phillips had picked up a number of small but consistent tournament cash finishes by 2006. In 2007, he began to appear on the radar of the wider poker community when he had a good run at a World Series of Poker Circuit event in Tunica, Mississippi. Dennis made two final tables, both in $500 No Limit Hold’em side events, cashing for a combined total of US$4,578. The money was hardly life-changing, but the experience of playing live poker in large mutli-table tournaments would prove to be invaluable a year later.
The 2008 WSOP Main Event was probably the most hyped up yet. With play being stopped for a break of 117 days when only nine players remained, anticipation was reaching fever pitch by the time the action started up again in November. Phillips went in as chip leader and fan-favourite – an enviable position to have when playing for first place prize money of more than US$9,000,000. His final table experience ended up being a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, double ups and crushing beats. The end result was a third place finish and a massive payday of US$4,517,773 – not a bad return on the $200 satellite at his local casino that he won his Main Event seat in. Against the odds of another huge field, Phillips came close to making the final table of the Main Event again in 2009, finishing in 45th place for US$178,857.
Away from the poker table, Dennis is also a huge fan of sports, especially his hometown baseball team, the St Louis Cardinals. In fact, anyone who watched him playing at the Main Event on TV would have noticed him wearing a red Cardinals hat – signed by all the famous poker players he’d met on his way to the final table.