Phil Ivey is a professional poker player, member of Team FullTilt, and winner of 5 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets. Ivey is one of the youngest stars in the professional poker circuit, known for his ability to play off a 2-7 off-suit – the worst hand in poker – as if he were holding the best hand, pocket Aces.
Born in Riverside, California, February 1, 1976, Ivey’s family moved cross-country to Roselle, New Jersey when Phil was only 3 months old. Like many professional poker players, Ivey got his start very early, already sharpening his poker skills at the age of eight. Phil would play penny-ante Five Card Stud with his grandfather, who cheated in the hope of showing young Phil the dangers of gambling. Young Ivey paid little mind to his grandfather’s intentions, however, asserting confidently that he would grow up to be a professional gambler one day.
At the age of 18, Phil Ivey acquired a fake ID and hit the casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. While not a profitable venture at the time, Ivey continued to hone his skills in this manner, eventually moving to Atlantic City at the age of 20. Ivey’s fake ID poker adventures earned him the nickname, “No Home Jerome”.
In the late 1990′s, Phil Ivey was employed at a New Brunswick, New Jersey telemarketing firm, where he frequently participated in poker games amongst his co-workers. In his early 20′s, Ivey was still perfecting his poker skills, having no idea the success that would come to him in the following years.
Phil Ivey and the WSOP
Phil Ivey saw his first major success in the 2000 WSOP. He whittled his way through the competition, making two final tables and winning his first WSOP Bracelet in a $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha tournament. Ivey earned himself $195,000 for the win, sending the biggest names to the rail at the final table, including Amarillo Slim and Phil Hellmuth. Ivey became the first player ever to defeat Amarillo Slim in heads-up poker.
Phil’s phenomenal success struck fear in the competition, which suddenly showed much respected for his young talents. In the 2002 WSOP, Phil Ivey matched the records of Phil Hellmuth and Ted Forrest, winning 3 WSOP Bracelets in a single year. That feat awarded him more than $350,000 in cash winnings.
The 2005 WSOP saw Phil Ivey take home his 5th bracelet in a $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament, worth $635,603.
Though Phil has yet to win the WSOP outright, he has shown impressive results at the Main Event, finishing in the top 25, three out of four years. In 2002, Ivey finished in 23rd place, 2003 in 10th place and 2005 in 20th place.
Phil Ivey and the World Poker Tour (WPT)
Phil’s World Poker Tour (WPT) history is a heartbreaking story to some. The professional poker player has finished in 7 final tables, but has yet to take 1st place in the Main Event. His closest finish was in 2nd place in the WPT Season One, World Poker Open. Overall, Ivey has pocketed about 1.3 million from WPT final tables. Coincidentally, several of Ivey’s final hands that knocked him out of the WPT were the same – Ace-Queen.
Phil Ivey and the European Poker Tour (EPT)
Phil Ivey made his first European Poker Tour (EPT) appearance in September of 2006, in Barcelona, Spain. Ivey made his way through the opposition to find himself seated at the final table as the chip-leader. After a long hard battle, heads-up action came between Ivey and Norway’s Bjørn-Erik Glenne. Ivey would finish in second place as Glenne came out on top.
Phil Ivey and the EPM
Europe’s first independent poker tour, the European Poker Masters (EPM), was too much of a draw for Phil Ivey to pass up. He made his way to London in 2006 to compete against the strongest line-up of poker players ever witnessed in Europe. Ivey was a fan favorite, expected to take down the tournament by many. Again, Phil made it to the final table, but did not take the 1st place prize. Phil Ivey finished in 7th place, pocketing a prize just under $15,000.
More Notable Achievements from Phil Ivey
Though 1st place finishes were not in the cards for most of Phil Ivey’s professional career, he did find a string of good fortune in late 2005. On November 20, Phil took 1t place in the final table of the Monte Carlo Millions, awarding him a cool million in cash. The very next day, Ivey played in the Full Tilt Invitational, Live from Monte Carlo”. His combination of skills and luck held true, again finishing in 1st place and earning him another $600,000.
Phil Ivey Outside of Poker
Phil Ivey, who now resides in Las Vegas with his wife, Luciaetta, has many other hobbies outside of his professional poker career. He is a noted basketball fan, with favorite teams including the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. Ivey enjoys playing video games, making proposition bets among his among his friends and colleagues, and has more recently taken a liking to the game of golf.
Phil Ivey took part in the World Series of Golf, a combination of Golf and Poker, where players must bet or fold as they come to each hole. Ivey finished in 3rd place, though he admitted afterwards that he should have arrived sooner for more practice.