For a few moments early Monday morning at the Rio, poker superstar Phil Hellmuth Jr. flashed back to a year ago.
The self-described "poker brat" has spent four years chasing an elusive 12th World Series of Poker individual event championship bracelet.
During the 2011 World Series of Poker, Hellmuth had three second-place finishes, including the $50,000 buy-in Players Championship, finishing runner-up to Brian Rast.
He started thinking about those moments.
"That fear set in a couple of times, but I eliminated all negative thoughts and said to myself, 'I must play great,'" Hellmuth said.
Hellmuth, 47, won his record-setting 12th World Series of Poker individual event championship bracelet, further separating him from his two closest rivals. Hellmuth topped a field of 309 players to win the $2,500 buy-in Seven Card Razz event to earn the gold bracelet and $182,793.
"This event requires tremendous patience," Hellmuth told a reporter from PokerNews.com, which posted a video of the interview on the World Series of Poker website. "If I didn't have patience, I would have busted out, no question."
Hellmuth's 12th individual event championship bracelet puts him two ahead of Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, who each have 10 bracelets.
The late Johnny Moss earned nine bracelets in his World Series of Poker career. Two other players, Erik Seidel and Phil Ivey, each own eight bracelets.
"Congrats to Phil Hellmuth for making history with #12," Seidel posted on Twitter on Monday morning. Something about WSOP makes him step up & continue to amaze."
Ivey came within one place of earning his ninth bracelet Monday morning, finishing second in the $10,000 buy-in Pot Limit Hold'em event.
Hellmuth, whose final table was being played in the Pavilion Room stage, said he knew Ivey was playing for a bracelet at the ESPN feature table in the Amazon Room.
"This could have been a big swing in the bracelet race," Hellmuth said. "Ivey wants to race me to 25."
Hellmuth has earned more than $8 million in his World Series of Poker career and has cashed (finished among the money winners) in a record 89 individual events.
Hellmuth has cashed in four of the 18 events so far at the 2012 World Series of Poker, which is scheduled to hold 61 bracelet events.
Hellmuth's last gold bracelet came in 2007. His first was in 1989, when at age 24, he defeated Chan heads-up during the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold'em World Championship to become the then-youngest Main Event champion in history.
Hellmuth's record stood for 19 years until 2008, when 22-year old Peter Eastgate became the youngest to win the title.
The following year, Joe Cada broke Eastgate's record as the youngest, when at 21 years, 11 months, he won the 2009 Main Event.
"It's unbelievable," Hellmuth said after the victory on the live stream of the event at WSOP.com. "I've been waiting for this since 2007. I've been knocking, knocking, knocking on the door."
Monday morning's victory also marked the first time Hellmuth had won an event in game that didn't feature Texas Hold'em. Razz is a seven-card stud form of poker requiring players to make the lowest possible hand.
Hellmuth defeated Don Zewin of Las Vegas in a heads-up match that lasted nearly two hours.
Hellmuth led throughout, but several times he feared he was letting Zewin back into the game.
"I got back my concentration," Hellmuth said.
The final table included six former gold bracelet winners with 20 combined victories.
On the final hand, Hellmuth's five lowest cards were a jack, 10, 4, 2 and ace. Zewin had a king, jack, nine, six and three.
Zewin took third to Hellmuth and Chan back in the 1989 Main Event.
"He's a good mixed-games player," Hellmuth said of Zewin, who earned $113,024.
Ivey, who is making a return to the World Series of Poker after a self-imposed one-year exile following the U.S. government's 2011 crackdown on Internet poker, reached his second final table of the weekend in the Pot Limit Hold'em event.
He finished second to Andy Frankenberger of New York, earning $275,559. Ivey finished seventh Friday night in the $5,000 buy-in Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event.
Frankenberger, who won his second-ever World Series of Poker gold bracelet, earned $445,899 for topping a field of 179 players.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.