Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #8 Phil Ivey
In my opinion, placing Phil Ivey on a poker list has nothing to do with “how much did he win?” It does however have everything to do with “Where did he finish this time?” There are very few people that are going to argue the fact that Phil Ivey is the greatest living poker player on the planet. There are still a great number of people who will conjecture that Ivey is probably the greatest player to have ever played the game, and they can make a compelling argument. Ivey is at the top of the leaderboard when it comes to money earned in the career tournament earnings category and finished the year with another “ho-hum” $1.6 million in earnings in 2010. But the most compelling story over the 10 years that Ivey has played at the summer series in Las Vegas has been how many championships Ivey will win at the WSOP, and in 2010, we saw him increase that number by one, making him one of the best stories of the year.
Event #37 was the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. Tournament and Ivey found himself at yet another final table that was full of poker superstardom. Finishing the event in 8th place was Chad Brown, who was followed by Albert Hahn in 7th, then David Baker in 6th. But the big names didn’t end there as Jeff Lisandro made his deepest run of the summer series, exiting the tournament in 5th place, and was followed by Ken Aldridge in 4th. This left Phil Ivey 3-handed with fellow Team Full Tilt Poker Pro John Juanda, and Bill Chen.
Chen was leading the action with about 2.6 million in chips, Ivey was holding onto 1.1 million,and Juanda was bringing up the short stack with 630k. Chen seemed to have everything going his way at the onset of play, and was raking pot after pot, and just leaning on Juanda and Ivey. At one point, Ivey was down to around 600k and Juanda with 450k, while Chen held onto more than 3.2 million chips. That’s when Ivey started to get things going, and knocked out Juanda in a Stud hand. On 5th street, Juanda check raised Ivey with nothing but Ace high, and Ivey called him up with 2-pair. 6th street paired Juanda, and the River paired him again giving Juanda Aces up, but the river deuce for Ivey filled him up, and Juanda was eliminated in 3rd place. This left Ivey, while shortstacked, playing for a chance at his 8th bracelet in just 10 years at the World Series of Poker.
3 times in Ivey’s career he had come out runner up at WSOP events. The first was in 2003 when Ivey finished 2nd to Huck Seed in the $5,000 Razz event. The second time, Ivey finished runner up to Sammy Farha in the 2006 WSOP at the $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo event. And the last time that Ivey was a runner up at the WSOP was in his only cash at the 2007 WSOP, finishing 2nd to Chris Reslock in the $5,000 Seven Card Stud Championship. But Ivey had never played the roll of bridesmaid at a WSOP event that wasn’t a $5k, and he wasn’t interested in making this the first time. There was a lot more money in side bets riding on a bracelet than what was offered even for the top prize of the tournament, and it was all about finishing off just one more opponent, despite the fact that he was a 3 to 1 dog in chips.
Ivey scrapped his way back a little at a time in Stud-8, and then got a little more in Omaha. But in Razz, the momentum swung back to Bill Chen’s favor as Ivey saw his stack dip back down below the million chip mark. Then when the action switched back to Stud-8, Ivey went on a tear again evening out the chip stacks at almost 2 million apiece, and used Hold’em to take the lead in the heads up match. In a big Omaha hand, Ivey increased his lead to 2.6 million to 1.7 million, and continued applying the pressure relentlessly, taking a 3 to 1 chip lead. But Chen wasn’t about to call it quits as he rallied back and reclaimed the chip lead at one point. But the lead was short lived as Ivey thundered back and placed Chen on the verge of elimination, until finally all the chips got into the middle in a Razz hand. On fifth street the money found the middle with Chen seeing the bad news as he held a made 7-6 low to Iveys made 6-5 low. As the cards drew out, Chen failed to improve as Ivey spiked a 4 on the river for the poetic wheel and claimed his 8th career WSOP bracelet.
The win tied Ivey with Eric Seidel for the 5th most bracelets all time, and moved him step up the ladder closer to becoming the greatest WSOP champion of all time. I think that most people just assume that at some point, Ivey will surpass Phil Hellmuth who currently holds that title of the most WSOP Bracelets and most WSOP Cashes. So the question is really not a matter of “will Ivey take the position of most bracelets won?” The question really is more “when will it happen?”