Phil Ivey: The Elusive PimpernelNovember 30, 2011 3:21 pm
Phil Ivey is widely regarded as the best all-around poker player in the world today, but at 35 years old is still an enigma to much of the poker community.
Despite winning 8 WSOP bracelets, $13,859,944 from live tournaments, $19,242,744 from online cash games at Full Tilt, not to mention untold other amounts from various private games, Phil Ivey has no interest in self-promotion and will often spur publicity.
However, with the online poker boom, Phil Ivey got involved with Full Tilt Poker as part of the original design team whilst becoming a member of Team Full Tilt. Subsequently, the hitherto inaccessible poker pro became better known to the public, as he entered ever more tournaments as part of his contractual duties.
As he explained in 2005, after becoming Bluff Magazine’s Poker Player of the Year:
“Most of my time is spent playing at the big game at the Bellagio. If there was a good cash game going on, I’d sit in the tournament and try to accumulate some chips. And if I got some chips, I’d hopefully make it down to the end. If I didn’t get some chips, I’d be out early, and I’d go and play the cash game. That was generally my strategy, but now I’ve decided to take tournaments a lot more seriously. I just play as well as I can all the way through.”
Unfortunately, now that Ivey is no longer affiliated with any online poker room, he is more likely to resume focussing on the more lucrative cash games, and only the occasional $10,000 plus buy-in tournaments.
Phil Ivey was taught to play poker by his grandfather aged just 8 years old, and by 17 he had acquired a fake ID under the name ‘Jerome,’ and started playing at the Tropicana and the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. However, Ivey always sought a certain amount of anonymity and as he explains:
“It was just the name on my fake ID. I didn’t really speak to that many people anyway; I just went down and played poker and that was it. But, I told people I was Jerome and when I turned 21, I told them I was Phil.”
Recently, a Phil Ivey without logos was seen playing in the APPT Macau, on the sidelines of the enormously celebrated high-stakes ‘Big Game.’ It was his first tournament appearance since Black Friday in the US. In the absence of being offered a major endorsement deal acceptable to him, the ‘Tiger Woods of Poker’ is now likely to remain an ever more elusive player to the poker loving public.