If there was a time in a poker player's life when it seems to have been worth all the pain and suffering, it's making the final table at a WSOP. And, not just any old table either. We're talking Main Event bragging rights here.
For Federico Butteroni, sitting pretty in 18th place on Italy's All Time Money List, this is a dream that has spanned several years. After finishing 20th in the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Monster Stack Event #28 at the 2015 WSOP, Federico had a taste of what it means to finish deep into a big event.
Now, with a spot at the Main Event final table in November, he carries the weight of the Italian poker community on his shoulders. It seems as if the Italians are as passionate (and vocal) about their November Niners as they are about their football.
Throughout the final two days of the Main Event, Butteroni could be heard triumphantly shouting whenever he won a pot. Also, rushing over to his friends on the rail to celebrate, Italian-style.
The Cavalry is on the Way!
Federico will enter the November showdown as the short-stack, with only 16BB in tow. It's an overwhelmingly monumental – but not impossible - task to overcome. That's not to say that Italy's only WSOP Main Event final table player since 2010 isn't up to the challenge – especially with a little help from some well-connected friends.
It's not uncommon for November Niners to find themselves thrust into the spotlight and onto a stage that they are not completely comfortable with. It would seem natural for them to turn to someone who has already been there and done that for guidance.
For Italy's Great Poker Hope, that person is none other than the mighty 14-bracelet winner, Phil Hellmuth. Letting the cat out of the bag at WSOPE Berlin, Phil revealed exclusively to 888poker that he will be that “special friend” every November Niner needs. No, not the one who comes out of the woodwork looking for a handout. The one who could possibly turn Mr. Butteroni's upside down situation into a miraculous run for the bracelet. If anyone's up for the challenge, Hellmuth is!
Inside the Main Event's Biggest Coaching Deal
So the details of this coaching deal between the “Goliath” of tournament poker and the relatively inexperienced “David” are as follows:
Butteroni gets five days of coaching from Phil in NYC.
He gets to play in Phil's Poker Charity Tournament.
And why does Phil think that Federico even has a chance with only 16BB?
Well, according to Phil, “He [Butteroni] thinks a lot like I do. He has a great story and let's see what happens. I need Federico to run it up!”
How much Phil is getting compensated for his trouble – or whether he is even getting paid at all – remains a mystery. However, in past coaching-type, mentoring deals like this, the mentor gets a percentage of the student's winnings and/ or a flat hourly rate.
Is it Worth it?
Coaching arrangements can run the gamut. Deals can involve help with poker strategy, finding holes in a player's game or help with their table persona. Some go so far as to provide assistance with self-awareness and meditation aids for concentration and calming.
It's big business – and why not! The current November Niners have each collected a healthy $1,001,020 for their efforts so far. With a whopping $7,680,021 to the first place finisher, it's no wonder that players are desperately trying to get any edge. Any minor tell or slight weakness in a player's game could be their undoing. However, a great coach can fix and even turn a player's bad habits into good ones.
When it comes to the validity of last minute coaching deals, there are two camps, well three actually. Some argue that, If you have been using coaches a lot during your poker career, hiring one for something as big as the Main Event is a no-brainer.
Others say that coaching under any circumstances will probably do some good – with or without any prior history. And, finally the naysayers. There are those who just don't do coaching, of any type, or believe in mentoring seminars.
However, this hook-up looks like a win-win combination. Phil gets publicity from his alliance with a November Niner. He can sit in the front row of the Main Event and be in the spotlight, without actually being in the spotlight.
Our man, Federico gets more fame and fortune, than the majority of poker players will ever come close to having. He also gets to break bread with a poker legend who has made it heads-up at both the WSOP and WSOPE Main Events. And that, my friends, could ultimately be the difference.