- Nickname: Tiger Woods of Poker or No Home Jerome
- Facebook: Phil Ivey
- Twitter: @philivey
- Birthdate: 1st February 1976
- Birthplace: Riverside, California
- Residence: Las Vegas, Nevada
- WSOP Bracelets: 9
- Biggest Win: $2,058,948
- Total Winnings: $17,633,676+
- Sponsored by: iveypoker.com
Phillip Dennis Ivey Jr, known as Phil Ivey, has been dubbed the ‘Tiger Woods of Poker’ and this is simplistic at best. Phil is said to be uncomfortable with the title but there is a similarity between the two when we consider their games but not their personal lives. Quite simply, on their day, both are untouchable in their chosen sport. Chance plays its part in golf where a sudden subtle wind change can make the difference between a drive that reaches the green and one that falls short. Likewise, a single card on the river against all odds can completely change a hand and game of poker.
Phil started player poker at just eight years old, being hustled out of pennies by his grandfather at five-card stud. By his teens, he was telling people he was going to be a professional gambler when he was older. However at 18, it was the humbler world of telemarketing that earned him his first regular wages. $50 out of one of his pay packets went to one of his co-workers, Jerome Graham, for an ID card and suddenly the door was open to the casinos in Atlantic City.
Phil became a regular at the poker tables, so much so that the other players dubbed him ‘No Home Jerome’. Unfortunately, the nickname almost became a reality on several occasions as ‘Jerome’ lost a lot of money, subsequently was often short of rent and on occasion without electricity or water. However, while he was being unlucky at cards, Phil started a relationship with a woman from the telemarketing job, Luciaetta, who would become his wife, they divorced in 2009.
When he reached 21, Phil decided to quit being ‘Jerome,’ brazenly saying to the shift manager at the Tropicana, ‘Hey, my name’s Phil’. As he dropped his alias, he raised his game and after three years putting the practice in, the new century saw him ready to up his stakes. He was successful at the Jack Binion World Poker Open, winning one event and reaching the final table in three others. Phil followed that up with respectable twelfth and fifth placed finishes before taking his first WSOP bracelet in the Pot Limit Omaha tournament, beating the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott and Amarillo Slim Preston in the process.
In the 2002 WSOP, Ivey surpassed himself taking three bracelets, a record that he shares with Hellmuth and Ted Forrest. Since then, in terms of tournament wins, he’s been relatively quiet on the WSOP front, gaining just one more bracelet and being well short of the target of thirty bracelets that he set himself. But it is in the big money cash games at Bellagio, where the blinds are $4,000 and $8,000, that he excels and while his detractors suggest his tournament wins do not reflect his elevated status, he rarely misses the final table and in February 2008, took home $1,596,100 for winning the LA Poker Classic.
In May 2011, Ivey filed a lawsuit claiming Full Tilt had breached his contract. The suit asked for damages in excess $150,000,000 and for him to be released from his contract. Ivey later voluntarily withdrew the suit. Ivey chose not to play at the WSOP in 2011 as the Full Tilt players payments had not been arranged. After taking his break while the Full Tilt mess was cleaned up Phil has returned to big tournaments and is still at the top of his game, proving this with an Aussie Millions win in 2012, he banked $2,058,948 playing No limit Hold’em in the $250,000 Challenge.
There is talk of a mystery woman who may have led to him being refused a payout at a London casino in August 2012, Ivey was reported to have won £7.3 million (approx. $11 million) playing Punto Banco at Crockfords, he got back his £1 million stake but it remains to be seen if he will get the rest.
In late 2012 Phil announced he was about to launch a website, iveypoker.com, dedicated to teaching new players the right way to play. It’s free to sign up and enjoy the instructional services designed to entertain and educate. Team Ivey have been signed up and are an impressive bunch! The IveyPoker App is now available to download, you can check when the pros are playing, compete against them along with your Facebook friends.
2013, so far, has seen Ivey on good form; 1st place at the 2013 World Series of Poker Asia Pacific netted him $51,840 and 14th in Event #18 WSOP bringing in $15,544 are just two examples.
Phil Ivey is one of the most feared players in the game and though his flickering eyes give away that he is thinking hard, they never give away what he is thinking. He seems to have an uncanny knack for knowing what his opponents are up to though his abilities are not paired with a huge ego. He is not in pursuit of fame, just in becoming a great poker player and to this end he has, among other qualities, two things in his favor. Firstly, he is very critical of his performances, always wanting to improve and secondly, he loves poker, believing it to be ‘the greatest game in the world’. We agree.
Monte Carlo Millions 2005
On his way to winning the 2005 Monte Carlo Millions Texas Hold’em event, Phil Ivey showed phenomenal awareness to win a hand that all but took the title. In the fourth hand of the heads up against Paul Jackson and with a pot of $176,000, both players watched as the flop rolled out a 7♠ J♠ J♥. Phil with a pocket Q♠ 8♥ decided to test the water with an $80,000 raise. Jackson re-raised to $170,000 and Phil his eyes flitting from left to right, considered his options.
Doubting that Jackson had a jack, he re-raised to $320,000. Jackson came straight back and suddenly the betting was at $470,000 with Ivey needing to put another $150,000 just to call. All is quiet, barring the click-clacking of chips in Ivey’s fingers, presumably in time with the cogs in his mind. His face looked serious and he barely glanced at his opponent. Not that is until he asked Jackson how any chips he had left.
After the reply, Ivey went all in. Both players had been bluffing, Jackson had only 6♠ 5♦ and it was too much for Jackson, who folded. Ivey, with superb judgement, had out-bluffed a tremendous bluff. Two hands later, a check for $1,000,000 was his when Jackson went all in with Q♥ J♥ against Ivey’s K♠ Q♦ and neither hit anything on the board.
Last updated July 2013.