Phil Ivey: Best Professional Poker of His Time

Phil Ivey Look

Phil Ivey is one of the most accomplished poker players in history. Throughout his career he has received ten WSOP gold bracelets, a World Poker Tour title, and he has won a plethora of other tournaments and cash games.

Ivey has accumulated over $23 million dollars from live tournament wins so far, resulting in him being ranked #1 on New Jersey's All Time Money List and #3 on the Unites States All Time Money List. At only 39, we still expect to see great things from Ivey in the future.

Early Years

Phillip Dennis Ivey Jr. was born February 1st, 1976 in California to Phil Ivey Sr. and Pamela Ivey. When he was only three months old, his family moved to Roselle, New Jersey where he would spend the majority of his childhood.

When Ivey was only eight years old, his grandfather pulled out a deck of cards and taught him how to play five-card stud poker, not realizing that he was actually training a future poker sensation. They would usually put a small wager on the game, no more than five cents.

As Ivey entered his teenage years, he was desperate for some tougher competition, so he would use fake id tos get into Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos for the chance to play against more experienced players. He's still sometimes called "No Home Jerome," referring to the Fake ID he most often used back then.

After high school, Ivey joined a telemarketing firm in New Jersey where he would play poker with his co-workers, only fueling his love of the game. At this time, Ivey never would have suspected just how far he would go in his poker career.

Other renowned players such as Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein were amazed at how bad Ivey played poker when he first started; many people considered Ivey to be an easy target, as he constantly would lose games time and time again.

Negreanu noticed that Ivey used to try to play every hand, which is a horrible technique if you want to make a significant amount of money at the table. Greenstein also observed that Ivey played too loose and had poor money management. Even though they critiqued his early playing techniques, Negreanu and Greenstein are two of Ivey's closest friends today. Ivey clearly had a rocky start to his professional poker career, but we all know that there's more to this story.

Accomplishments in Poker

Phil Ivey was in his early twenties when things started to really heat up for him. He won his first WSOP bracelet in 2000 after his defeat of Amarillo Slim, becoming the first person to ever beat Amarillo Slim heads up at a WSOP final table.

Ivey started staring into the eyes of his opponents during this tournament, which became his personal trademark. His stare is linked to his success and opposing players find it difficult to raise his hand or bluff him while he's staring right through them.

In 2002, Ivey received three WSOP bracelets in 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, S.H.O.E, and 7 Card Stud, bringing him in over $350,000 dollars in prize money. Only a handful of really talented players have managed to pull off three bracelets in a year.

Ivey was on a roll and nothing could stop him. In 2005, he won his biggest cash prize from a WSOP tournament at an astonishing $635,603 on the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha. He has gone on to win several other WSOP bracelets in various categories, with his most recent being the $1,500 8 Game Mix in 2014. Phil Ivey, at only 39, is the youngest player to have ever received ten WSOP bracelets, and his goal is to reach 30 bracelets before he retires.

World Series of Poker Bracelets




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

On top of his victories at the WSOP, Ivey has also been very successful throughout other poker tour competitions, landing himself a seat at the World Poker Tour final table nine times throughout his young career. In 2008, he earned his first WPT title when he placed first in the No Limit Hold'em Championship event and he also took second place at his first ever European Poker Tour event.

In addition to tournaments, Ivey excels in playing side games. In 2006, he won over $16,000,000 after teaming up with, "The Corporation," to take down Texas Billionaire, Andy Beal. Ivey ended up being the player who defeated Beal and sent him home packing.

Ivey dominated the 2005 Monte Carlo Millions No Limit Hold'em main event, taking first place for the 1 million dollar grand prize. He also competed in the 2010 Aussie Millions Poker Championship in Melbourne, Australia, placing second and winning over half a million dollars.

Ivey has been a part of several televised poker tournaments including NBC's Poker After Dark and National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Ivey has won several tournaments on Poker After Dark, cashing in an extra $120,000 every time he wins.

Ivey is one of the few players who had repeatedly won the "Big Game" at the Bellagio Hotel, as he used to regularly play the $4000/$8000 buy-in mixed games with other high rollers. However, he now spends most of his time playing at the Aria Resort & Casino as they added a room in his honor, called simply "The Ivey Room."

When looking at Ivey's most recent achievements, one cannot overlook his results at the Aussie Million Poker Championship these past two years. He made several final tables, but it was his first place finish at both the $250,000 No Limit Hold'em challenge in 2014 and at the LK Boutique challenge in 2015 that not only got the most media coverage, but it also earned him a combined total of $5.2 million dollars.

In an interview with Nolan Dalla, Ivey was asked to reflect on mistakes he has made in his career and this was Ivey's response, "There are a ton of mistakes every session, even for me. What separates me from a lot of other players is that I recognize the mistakes when I make them. A lot of other players don't recognize when they make mistakes and I think that's important for improving your game."

It was nice to see Ivey share his personal thoughts in an interview as he often has an aloof personality and avoids being involved in the poker community. Even when he plays against other prominent and established players in the industry, he often doesn't realize who they are or what they have accomplished. His goal is to win the game, and he doesn't care to make too many friends or connections along the way.

Full Tilt Scandal

Ivey was fully sponsored by Full Tilt Poker and would regularly play poker on their sites, but in 2011 when the United States government seized their domain names, it became obvious that Full Tilt Poker executives were laundering money out of the company and didn't have the necessary finances to back all of their customer's accounts.

This infuriated Ivey, forcing him to file a major lawsuit against Tiltware LLC, the company which operates Full Tilt Poker, in an effort to help reimburse funds back to the hand of US players. Ivey claimed that Full Tilt had breached their contract, and he asked for $150,000,000 in damages. Phil Ivey decided to sit out of the 2011 World Series of Poker, in honor of all the players that had lost money as a result of Full Tilt's actions.

Full Tilt announced that its Red Pros wouldn't be reinstated when they reopened their site the following year. They allowed previous members of the group to change their screen names back to what they were before they were sponsored. For the first month of the new Full Tilt's existence, Ivey stayed away from the site completely, but he eventually gave in and started playing under the username, Polarizing.

Although, he's never been accused of a crime in the alleged Full Tilt Poker fraud, Ivey still refuses to speak out about the situation and at this point he probably will remain silent about it for the remainder of his career.

Ivey the Entrepreneur

In addition to being very highly skilled at poker, Ivey is also very innovative. In 2012, he launched, "Ivey Poker," which is a free poker app that gives players the opportunity to connect with Ivey and other professionals. In October, 2014 Ivey told Poker News in an interview that he was suspending the app for now while his team works on making the necessary improvements for a better overall gaming experience. He hopes to release the new app later in 2015.

Ivey also launched Ivey League in 2014 which is a poker training site that offers a variety of poker strategy videos where professional poker players including Ivey give advice on how to become better poker players. Chris Kruk, Patrik Antonius, and Cole South are all active coaches on the site to name a few. There are over 30 coaches available on the site that provides their gambling expertise for players of all different levels.


Ivey believes in the importance of spreading his wealth. In 2008, Ivey donated $50,000 to Empowered 2 Excel, which is an academy that's focused on encouraging academic excellence, social growth, and healthy lifestyles through detailed educational programs for children.

Ivey, with the help of his mother, created the Budding Ivey Foundation to honor the wishes of his deceased grandfather: Leonard "Bud" Simmons. The foundation was designed to be an advocate for the less fortunate children in America, to help them with all their financial, educational, and other circumstantial needs. His grandfather always preached that one person can make a difference, and Ivey is proving his words to be true today.

This foundation supplies scholarships for students in need of money to fund their higher education; a few students are selected every year. Spread the Word: Nevada's Story Book Gala is supported heavily by the Budding Ivey foundation, to ensure that children everywhere can have access to a variety of books, new and old.

Personal Life

On May 19th, 2002 Phil Ivey married his high school sweetheart, Luciaetta. They were only married seven years before they filed a joint petition for divorce and Ivey hasn't been in a serious relationship since. In November 2011, Luciaetta filed a petition with the Nevada Supreme Court after she discovered Ivey had contributed $5,000 to the campaign of Family Court Judge Bill Gonzalez, the judge assigned to their divorce case. Luciaetta claimed she didn't receive a fair settlement because of this donation and has tried several times to reopen the case, but the case still remains closed.

Ivey said this in response to his ex-wife, "Luciaetta received a purse collection worth more than $1.2 million, jewelry valued at more than $1 million, and over $180,000 a month in alimony as part of the divorce settlement, while he accepted more than $170,000 in credit card debt and more than $15.1 million in gambling and other debt."

Ivey currently resides in Las Vegas. He's an avid sports fan with his two favorite teams being the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Rockets. In his spare time, he enjoys playing video games and participating in golf tournaments. He actually participated in the inaugural World Series of Golf, where he finished in third place.

In Recent News

In 2014, Crockfords, a casino in London refused to pay Ivey over $12 million that was owed to him. They accused him of keeping track of card values by watching for design imperfections on the backs of the cards during the game of baccarat. Despite Ivey's dispute towards these claims, he lost that court case and didn't receive any of the money. Ivey is upset with the results of the case and hopes that this doesn't tarnish his good name.

Phil Ivey was asked to make a guest appearance in a car commercial for the 2015 Chrysler 300, making him one of the first poker players that's starting to receive mainstream recognition, and although the commercial didn't identify his career, it does show that poker and its players are becoming more prominent in society today.