BREAKING: Phil Ivey Enters the L.A. Poker Classic
Beleagured Pro Plays First U.S. Tournament Since April 2011
Beleaguered poker pro Phil Ivey has entered a tournament on U.S. soil for the first time since the U.S. government accused the online site he represented of being involved in financial crimes.
Ivey registered for day 1 of the 2012 L.A. Poker Classic main event on Friday afternoon — a tournament he won in 2008.
Full Tilt Poker first fell into trouble after an April 2011 indictment handed down from the Department of Justice. About a month later, in response to the company’s apparent tardiness in paying back players, Ivey publicly blasted his former employer and filed a lawsuit seeking more than $150 million for “injunctive relief, declaratory relief and damages.”
The amount is what is currently owed to former U.S.-based customers.
He later backed off the legal action when it appeared the company was in talks to be sold to an undisclosed European investor. However, it didn’t stop Ivey from keeping his word on sitting out the entire World Series of Poker — an annual poker festival where he has won eight times.
More bad news fell on members of the company, as well as the poker community at large, when the DOJ piled on accusations of Full Tilt Poker operating as a Ponzi scheme. A handful of principals in the company were named in the civil complaint, and Ivey was not one of them.
About two months later, Ivey entered his first tournament since the site he played on and promoted was shutdown. In late November, Ivey took a seat in the Asian Pacific Poker Tour Macau main event.
Despite not lasting long in the event, Ivey recaptured his winning ways in January by scooping $2,130,200 in the Aussie Millions $250,000 buy-in event. As a result, he sits in second place on the all-time tournament money list with about $15.6 million.
Less than a week later, an attorney for Groupe Bernard Tapie — a French firm currently seeking to acquire Full Tilt Poker — came out publicly to say that Ivey and a handful of players owe millions to the site. The collective debt could derail the purchase, the lawyer said.
Card Player obtained information that Ivey is in debt $4 million to the site.
There have been no updates in the past few weeks from Full Tilt Poker, Groupe Bernard Tapie or the DOJ with regards to the status of the sale.
The 36-year-old has not been accused of any crime in connection with Full Tilt Poker.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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