Phil Ivey ranks 11th on the list of players with the most live tournament winnings

Phil Ivey: Biography

Phil Ivey is a legend in the poker world. What sets him apart from other poker gurus is that he is equally successful playing both offline and online, in cash games and tournaments. Like many other poker prodigies, he fell in love with the game from a young age, and his passion and hard work have led him to amazing results at the tables.

Personal life

Phil Ivey was born on February 1, 1977 in California, but his family soon moved to New Jersey. The future champion has been playing poker since he was eight years old. His grandfather taught him to play five-card stud with small bets of no more than five cents. Poker appealed to the young African-American, and as a teenager his parents tried unsuccessfully to discourage Phil from playing poker. He created a fake ID in the name of 21-year-old Jerome Graham (you must be 21 to enter a casino in the US) and spent several days at a casino in Atlantic City, the gambling capital of the US East Coast. Since then he has received the nickname “Homeless Jerome”.

While working for a telemarketing company in the mid-1990s, Ivey found success in poker games with colleagues, but constantly lost money at casinos. When he quit his job at age 20 to become a professional poker player, Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein initially viewed him as a fish. Today, however, they have become close friends and their skepticism about his poker skills has disappeared.

Marriage

Phil Ivey met his wife Luciette at age 17 and they married in Las Vegas in 2002; in 2004, the couple moved to Vegas, where Luciette played micro-limit hold’em and her husband made millions of dollars on high-stakes roulette. At the time, the poker player joked that he would come home after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to console Luciette, who had lost 75 cents that day. However, after seven years of marriage, Luciette received alimony from her ex-husband in the amount of $180,000 a month and divorced him.

Phil Ivey has now been dating an athlete named Nelly Garcia since 2013. They often appear together at charity events in South Africa, Macau, Las Vegas and London.

Hobby

Like many famous poker players, Phil is interested in sports. He is a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Buffalo Bills and is often seen wearing jerseys from those teams. In his free time, he likes to play computer games, golf and various bets. He once finished third in his first World Series of Golf tournament.

Career

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Phil’s first live tournament cash date was December 1, 1998, for a $1,000 seven-card stud tournament. By 2000, he had improved his game enough to make his World Series of Poker debut and win the $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament, defeating the legendary Amarillo Slim.

WSOP bracelets

Ivey shares second place with no less legendary Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson in the number of WSOP bracelets won – he has 10.

In 2002, even though there weren’t as many WSOP events as there are now, he accomplished the unusual feat of winning three bracelets in one series. Below is a complete list of WSOP events in which he won gold bracelets:

Year Tournament Prize money
2000 $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha $195,000
2002 $2,500 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo $118,440
2002 $2,000 S.H.O.E. $107,540
2002 $1,500 7 Card Stud $132,000
2005 $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha $635,603
2009 $2,500 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball $96,367
2009 $2,500 Omaha Hi/Lo + 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo $220,538
2010 $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. $329,840
2013 $2,200 Mixed Event $51,840
2014 $1,500 Eight Game Mix $166,986

Since 2016, Phil has been an irregular fixture in the World Series. In recent years, he has returned to the World Series, but only to the most expensive and prestigious tournaments. The poker community has been hoping every year that Phil Ivey would actually return to the WSOP, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Major career events

Year Event
2000 Having beaten the legendary Amarillo Slim heads-up, he won his first WSOP bracelet in a Pot-Limit Omaha tournament for $2,500 (+$195,000)
2002 Won three World Series bracelets in one year
2004 Joined the team of Full Tilt Poker professionals, becoming one of the founders of the room
2009 Won two bracelets at the WSOP
2010 Ivey was named Bluff magazine’s Player of the Decade, joining Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, respectively.
2014 Won the A$250,000 buy-in event at the Aussie Millions and earned $3.6 million in prize money – the biggest win of his career
2014 Won his 10th WSOP gold bracelet by winning the $1,500 8-Game Mix (+$166,986)
2017 Inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame
2020 Settled long-running litigation against Borgata Casino over card sorting case

Offline cache

Ivey is the king of cash games. Over the last 15-20 years he has excelled in some of the most expensive live cash games in the world. Even before he became a world-famous poker player, he participated in private high-stakes games organized by American porn magnate Larry Flynt and won huge prizes.

He is a regular at the famous Bobby’s Room poker room at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, where high-stakes games ($4,000/$8,000 for mixed games) are held daily.

He was also a member of the so-called “Corporation”, a group of high-stakes professionals who shared a bank account and took turns betting against banker Andy Beal. In February 2006, with the company $10,000,000 in the red, Ivey beat the billionaire in a three-day heads-up tournament at the Wynn Resort Casino, winning $16,600,000. The tournament was held in Limit Texas Hold’em with limits of $25,000/$50,000 and $50,000/$100,000.

Phil is a regular on the legendary TV shows Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker, where he plays no-limit hold’em with blinds of $200/$400 and $300/$600 respectively. He also competed in high-stakes cash games at the Triton Poker High Roller Series. Ivey was rumored to have won large sums of money from Chinese businessmen in a high-stakes pot game in Macau, where he has been a regular since 2010. In 2015-16, he also played high-stakes live cash games in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

Online poker

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Before Black Friday 2011, Phil Ivey was the most successful online cash game player in poker history; Since 2007, he has earned $19,242,743 in net income from Full Tilt poker rooms.

Since 2011, Phil’s results have become less stellar: from December 2012 to August 2015, his Full Tilt “Polarising” account and PokerStars “RaiseOnce” account played a total of 217,170 hands, losing a combined $6,317,217.

In June 2021, Ivey won the $25,000 WPT Singles Championship and received $400,000 from PokerKing. In singles play, he defeated Manig Leather, Anthony Zinno, Stephen Chidwick and Chris Hook, and at the final table, Patrik Antonius.

Scandals

In recent years, Phil Ivey’s poker career has been marred by scandals involving his name and two casinos on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2012, he won $12 million over two nights of baccarat at London’s Crockfords casino, but the casino refused to pay him his winnings, saying he and his partner Chen Yin Soon had not played fairly. The couple asked the dealer to turn the cards 180 degrees, ostensibly for luck, but in reality to mark the correct card values. The cards were later recognized as such due to a defective back design. Ivey sued but lost both cases and received no compensation.

Also in 2012, Ivey performed the same stunt at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, USA, where he not only won $9.6 million, but also took the money. However, the casino then sued Ivey in the US, where Ivey eventually won. His assets were seized, but by that time Ivey had left the United States, transferred all his financial assets to Asia and had long since disappeared from the poker radar. In 2019, he came to Las Vegas for the first time in many years to play in the World Series of Poker. In 2020, Ivey and Borgata signed a settlement agreement, the details of which have not yet been disclosed.

Business

Ivey founded two poker-related companies: the free poker app Ivey Poker and the training site Ivey League, which closed in 2017. He also starred in a Chrysler 300 commercial in 2015 and released a poker course for multidisciplinary training platform Masterclass in 2019.

Charity

Ivy is also actively involved in charitable causes, donating to many organizations. For example, in 2008, he donated $50,000 to the Empowered 2 Excel campaign, aimed at ensuring equal opportunities for children from low-income families. He and his mother also founded the Budding Ivey Foundation in honor of his late grandfather, Leonard “Bud” Simmons, who taught him poker.

Interesting Facts

  • In honor of Phil Ivey, the famous Aria casino in Las Vegas once named one of its poker rooms The Ivey Room.
  • Phil Ivey once left the dealer a $90,000 tip after winning big at a casino. At least that’s what the legend says.
  • Authoritative magazines All In Magazine, Bluff and UK Gaming Awards have repeatedly named Phil Ivey player of the year.
  • In 2009, Ivey won a $5,000,000 bracelet bet against fellow Full Tilt professional Howard Lederer. Lederer bet that Phil would not be able to win more than one WSOP bracelet in the next three years, but Ivey won the bet that year, winning two bracelets at once.

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