Has Phil Ivey gone broke?
Born February 1, 1976, Phillip Denis “Phil” Ivey Jnr. is an American professional poker player who has won one world poker tour tittle, ten World Series of poker bracelets and appeared in the world poker tour final tables nine times. Ivey is considered by both poker fans and his contemporaries as one of the greatest poker players in the history of the game. He is a player who doesn’t get beaten easily. With his stellar record at the highest echelons of the game, Ivey Jnr. is the epitome of a high roller who knows how to manipulate his opponent’s mind-set and the odds of the game to his favor. He truly earned his moniker as the “Tiger Woods of poker.”
As a guy who has won over $20 million in live tournaments and lost close to $15 million in online poker, it is hard to picture a time when Phil Ivey was broke. But like other great players, he has gone through quite a few bad spells.
Ivey’s top tournament accomplishments
Ivey’s earliest tournament accomplishments include winning three bracelets at the 2002 World Series Poker, tying Ted Forrest, Puggy Pearson and Phil Helmuth Jr. for the highest number of tournament wins in a single year. Ivey also won two bracelets in pot Limit Omaha in 200 and 2005. Apart from his ten World Series bracelets, Ivey has also enjoyed a great deal of success in the WSOP main event. He was ranked among the top 25 four times between 2002 and 2009. Ivey was the 23rd highest earner in 2002, tenth in 2003, 20th in 2005 and 7th in 2009.
Ivey defeated a field of 147 elite poker players to win his 6th bracelet in the $2,500 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Event of the 2009 WSOP in 2009. To earn the bracelet, he had to pull off a master class in a long head-to-head battle against John Monette. He went on to win one more bracelet in the 2,500 dollar Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo – Omaha High-Lo beating a formidable field of 376 players. He had to beat Ming Lee heads-up to win the tournament. While winning this event, Ivey also managed to place 22nd in the 5000 dollar Pot-Limit Omaha Eight-or-better despite only playing breaks in the main event.
Ivey garnered the highest number of votes for the Tournament of Champions in the 2010 World Series of Poker. In the same year, he won his 8th bracelet in the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event besting a final table of other top poker players including Bill Chen who came second, John Juana (3rd), Chad Brown (8th) and Jeff Lisandro (5th).
Did Ivey really hit rock bottom in 2012?
But in 2012, Ivey was knocked off the number one stop of top earners in the Full Tilt Poker Room. An avid online poker player, Ivey went on a particularly painful losing streak, accumulating nearly $5 million in losses. To put this into perspective, Ivey had netted close to $20 million in the five preceding years between 2007 and 2011, and this was from online poker tournaments alone. This means that between 2012 and 2014, Ivey lost more than a quarter of the amount that took over four years to make.
But how did this happen? Is Ivey broke now? Phil Ivey has repeatedly proven to be one of the most exquisitely balanced players skill-wise. Moreover, he had enjoyed great success in the world of online poker before. Surely Phil can win a few tournaments with his eyes closed?
Luckily for Ivey, the reason behind his losing streak was not tied to his playing style or strategy, but with Ivey himself. The poker star was getting all the wrong kind of attention over a financing and legal battle with his ex-wife Luciaetta. While this did not affect his game much, his problems were far from over.
In august 2012, Ivey reportedly won over $11 million playing in Punto Banco, but the casino refused to make any payments beyond his initial investment. The casino accused Ivey of edge-sorting, a method of advantage play that uses irregularities in the cut on backs of cards.
At the same time, he was also embroiled in a lawsuit with the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City. The casino accuses Ivey of cheating by exploited a “manufacturing design flaw” in the casino’s baccarat cards. Allegedly, the flaw allowed Ivey to precisely determine that value of cards handed to him, thereby tremendously boosting his odds. According to the establishment, the decorated player cheated them of over $12 million. While poker celebrities such as Doyle Brunson and Daniel Negreanu have defended him publicly, fighting the legal battle with the casino has proven to be an uphill climb.
By the beginning of 2014, the poker community was abuzz with rumors that Phil Ivey had hit rock bottom. But one month after the tournament, Phil stormed back to the poker scene by winning AUD $4 million in the Aussie Millions LK Boutique Challenge. Ivey only invested AUD $250,000. However since the 2014 Aussie Million Challenge had 46 entries, the total prize was well over the AUD $10 million mark, leaving the winner with no less than AUD $4 million to take home.
The win took Ivey to past the $20 million mark in tournament winnings. And if we take the $16 million won online, we can assume that the quick witted American poker pro is far from being broke.
Here is a breakdown of Phil Ivey’s top 5 tournament cashes
1. First place in the 2014 Pokerstars.com Aussie Millions No Limit Hold’em $250,000 Challenge for AUD $4,000,000.
2. First place in the 2012 Pokerstars.com Aussie Millions No Limit Hold’em $250,000 Challenge for AUD $2,000,000.
3. First place at the LA Poker Classic for $1,596,100.
4. Second place in the 2009 WSOP Main Event for $1,404,002.
5. First place in the 2005 36th Annual World Series of Poker event for $635,603
And with Team Ivey taking the coaching arena with a stable full of world class poker players, the image is only of a man trying to fight off unwanted publicity, rather that of a broke one. But it is hard to keep a low profile if you appear on the cover of ESPN magazine you are regularly spotted sitting court-side at Laker games. But while his skills on the green felt remain unmatched, the line between a hustler and degenerate in gambling are always very thin.
So is Phil Ivey really broke?
The only thing we can be certain of is this – the size of his bankroll remains a mystery, but the aura around his legend keeps growing.
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