Widely considered to be the greatest poker player on the planet by his peers, the impregnable Phil Ivey has achieved legendary status despite being only 35 years old.
With eight WSOP bracelets and almost $20 million in online poker winnings, Ivey has proved his nous and dominance in all forms of the game.
Cool and methodical, Ivey’s refusal to let anything faze him at the felt has helped cement his reputation as the world’s leading all round player.
He is often regarded as a figure of superhuman proportions amongst poker forum circles, with a popular thread in twoplustwo simply entitled ‘Phil Ivey is the nuts’. If his supreme poker skills were not enough, Ivey’s professional, clean cut image
makes him highly marketable, and he is the prominent face on Full Tilt Poker commercials.
Despite his achievements, Ivey endured a difficult start to his poker career, going broke several times as he learnt the ropes at casinos in Atlantic City.
Phil Ivey: Best Player of All Times?
It’s difficult to know where to start when describing Ivey’s poker resume.
His in live tournament winnings places him third in the all time money list behind the charismatic Daniel Negreanu and classy veteran Erik Seidel (but he is much younger than them). Ivey’s tournament prowess ranks him a cut above regulars at the nosebleed stakes, such as Tom Dwan, Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates and Phil Galfond. He has accumulated eight WSOP bracelets including two in 2009, and is tipped to eclipse Phil Hellmuth’s record of eleven.
Ivey recorded a marathon run in the 2009 WSOP Main Event, and was unlucky to bust out in seventh when his AK was ousted by eventual winner Darvin Moon’s AQ. Ivey’s other tournament successes include a WPT title, when he took down the $10k L.A. Poker Classic for $1.5 million in 2008, and first place at the 2005 Monte Carlo Millions. Ivey has reached an impressive nine final tables on the World Poker Tour.
Ivey’s cash game exploits are equally impressive.
Whereas fellow nosebleed stakes adrenaline junkies such as Dwan, Isildur1 and Ziigmund have endured massive swings, Ivey remains a consistent winner. According to the High Stakes Database, Ivey has amassed a staggering online since 2007. He was the biggest overall winner in 2008, scooping .
Ivey is a regular at the Bellagio ‘big game’ in Bobby’s Room, and appeared on seasons three and six of GSN’s High Stakes Poker. In November 2010, Ivey’s overwhelming appetite for action saw him venture to Macau, where he crushed several Chinese business tycoons for a rumoured $10 million.
Ivey’s combined tournament and cash game pedigree is second to none. But what makes him so good?
Several attempts have been made to psychoanalyse Phil – in fact the tag line of his Full Tilt advertisement is ‘Inside the mind of Ivey’. Ivey has the perfect temperament for poker. Phil displays little emotion at the table, shrugging off bad beats in a casual manner. His indomitable, trademark stare is known to intimidate opponents, and makes him very difficult to read.
Whereas the likes of Isildur1 are known for playing epic sessions across six tables, Ivey usually restricts himself to two tables online. Ivey has a relaxed demeanour, and can be seen donning large headphones and receiving massages at the table to help concentration.
Ivey possesses ‘soulreading’ capabilities, and these are exhibited in a popular clip of a bluffing war with Paul Jackson at the Monte Carlo Millions. Watch this amazing video.
Ivey can switch seamlessly between poker’s different forms and variants – his WSOP bracelet victories include triumphs in PLO, Stud, 2-7 Lowball and HORSE. Ivey’s playing style is difficult to narrow down – it changes depending on the situation and the opposition. Although not hyper aggressive like the new generation of internet hotshots, Ivey is an expert in constructing bluffs. There is unique aura surrounding Ivey that makes him virtually unplayable.
Away from the felt, Phil is a reserved, laidback character. Pokerroad’s ‘Life of Ivey’ documentary series provided an insight into the life of the man dubbed the ‘Tiger Woods of Poker’. Phil possesses a love for gambling of all forms. He is known to have placed numerous bracelet prop bets with fellow pros, including close friend Barry Greenstein, and wagered millions at the craps table. Ivey is an avid basketball and LA Lakers fan, as well as a keen golfer.
Long haul trips in his private jet are spent playing Chinese poker with the likes of Eli Elezra and Phil Hellmuth. Despite his reputation as the world’s premier player, Ivey tends to shy away from publicity, and has been known to be irritable with the media for intruding whilst participating in live tournaments.
As , Ivey has shares in the ownership of Full Tilt Poker.
It is only a certain sentimentality for the ‘old guard’ of poker (the likes of Doyle Brunson and the late Chip Reese), who prospered when the game was less popular, that stop Ivey being labelled the greatest of all time. The only player with the same level of genius was Stu Ungar, who tragically died of a drug overdose. Regardless, Ivey remains the current number one operator, and a future hall of famer.
Phil Ivey play regularly at Full Tilt Poker. You can watch him there, and even match him if you dare.
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