Phil Ivey is a living legend; no doubt about it. Arguably the best all-around player in the world, Ivey has a chance to add to his credits when he returns to the felt in November for the World Series of Poker Main Event final table. He is the most well-known player at the final table — and he is also the most feared.
When he first found that he had a knack for the game, he was known as "Jerome" because he was too young to legally play in the casinos in Atlantic City. Once he turned 21, he began what has become one of the storied track records in the game. Winning his first bracelet at 23 ($2,500 WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha), Ivey began setting a standard in the game that few have been able to match.
Scoring three WSOP bracelets in 2002, one in 2005, and two in 2009, Ivey has proven to be an unstoppable force in a variety of games. In addition to winning his WSOP bling, Ivey has made a career of milking the top cash games for millions. A consistent winner in both online and live "big games," Ivey continues to develop his game while taking profits like the one in a recent victory in which he landed nearly $1 million in one hand on Full Tilt.
If you still have any doubts about his prowess, consider this statistic: Ivey has won over $12 million in career tournament earnings. The only thing more impressive than that is that he may possibly have won more money on side bets about his WSOP play than he did actually winning the bracelets themselves.
Although he is short going into the final table with 9,765,000 chips, Ivey is easily the most experienced player of the November Nine and he has the ability to make things happen like no one else can. The only question is whether he will get the cards that will let him exploit his poker prowess. If he catches the right cards, he will be impossible to stop, especially considering that he stands to make a great deal of money in side wagers on his play.
The Path to the November Nine
Ivey started his play on Day 1c and immediately started winning pots that demonstrated he was playing as well as he did when he won his previous two bracelets this year, finishing the day with 84,000 chips. On Day 3, Ivey quickly doubled early in the action and continued to amass a big stack throughout the day, ending the day's action with 350,000. On day 4, Ivey managed to pass the 1 million chip mark, finishing the day with 1.27 million and a spot among the chip leaders. On Day 5, Ivey took some hits but managed to regain his earlier form and chipped up to 1.38 million.
On Day 6, Ivey battled with the remaining 185 players to make the cut of 64 players that would start Day 7. Ivey nailed a few crucial hands and eliminated a number of players on his way to building his 6,345,000 stack. Day 7 saw Ivey jump to the top of the chip counts, albeit briefly, as he continued to mow down his opponents in an impressive fashion. He finished the day with 11,350,000, positioning himself to make a run at the Main Event bracelet.
Unfortunately for Ivey, Day 8 was rough as he dropped several million early in the day as many wondered if this was the end of his run. Despite having lost one-third of his stack, the calm Full Tilt star rebuilt his chip castle while others dropped out of contention. Fortunately, he managed to grind his stack up while avoiding the landmines that befell the majority of the returning players as the field narrowed to the final nine players.
What to watch for
Ivey sits in Seat 3, giving him position over chip leader Darvin Moon (Seat 1) and Jeff Shulman (Seat 9). Ivey will have to be wary of James Ankenhead in Seat 2 because he will most likely look to double up early. Although Steven Begleiter (Seat 5) and Eric Buchman (Seat 6) have sizable stacks, expect them to be less of a factor for Ivey as they try to avoid giving Ivey any momentum.