Professional poker player Carter Phillips has the kind of career players twice his age dream of. At 22, he's already won a WSOP bracelet (in 2010's $1500 six-handed NLHE event) and an EPT title (season 6 Barcelona main event). By all appearances, he should be in for many more years of successful play.
So why did he announce his retirement in a posting on his Facebook page, only to take down the message later amid a swirl of controversy and speculation.
Well, the answer to that question is complicated, and apparently involves a machete. Yes, a machete.
It seems that Carter Phillips was recently involved in a bizarre and frightening incident during the 2010 EPT's Barcelona stop, which has been going on during this past week.
William Reynolds, a professional poker player and friend of Phillips's who grinds on PokerStars as Altrum Altus, recently took to the 2+2 message boards to explain the strange event that apparently gave Phillips reason to reconsider his current line of work.
According to Reynolds, he, Phillips, and fellow player Kayvan Payman had gone to a shisha/hookah bar in Barcelona during the off time between the events of EPT Barcelona. When leaving the bar, Payman was hit by a trio of thieves who helped themselves to €4,000 from his pockets then took off.
The group of poker players, never ones to give up without a struggle, gave chase.
The pickpockets escaped into a subway entrance near a restaurant and slammed down the security gates, leaving Payman, Reynolds, and Phillips stranded on the outside. Desperate to get to the crooks, they started banging the restaurant's metal door, hoping to get some help from the workers that were inside. In his frustration, Payman "punched the window."
The consequence of this last action was far from the desired outcome, as two Spanish men soon emerged through the door, carrying a frying pan and an 18" machete. Unable to communicate effectively with the three poker players, the restaurant workers started accosting them with their weapons, one makeshift and one horrifyingly dangerous. Payman apparently took a smash to the head with the frying pan, but the Spaniards retreated soon after realizing the trio of poker players meant no harm.
Phillips has been the target of a lot of criticism since this story came out on the forums. Many commenters, while sympathetic about Payman's loss in the initial robbery, feel that the three players acted foolishly and put themselves in a dangerous situation when it wasn't necessary. The vow from Phillips to quit poker was seen as little more than a plea for attention.
Phillips's response, also on the 2+2 forums, explains that the Facebook update was made while he was still drunk and doesn't accurately represent his thoughts. He writes, "I was clearly frustrated at the situation that night, but this was not the first time or worst incident of a bad thing happening to me in europe or abroad."
So is Carter Phillips still a poker player? Well, probably, but it looks like he may scale down his travels for time being.
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